The two hottest teams in all of college football since the beginning of October are going to do battle in the iconic Rose Bowl Stadium on the afternoon of Monday, January 2 when the Pennsylvania State Nittany Lions take on the University of Southern California Trojans.
Success of the teams
By the first Saturday in October, the two teams had a combined record of 3-5. They each ran the board from there, rattling off a combined total of 17 consecutive victories to finish the season. Needless to say, this is one highly-anticipated bi-coastal showdown with a lot of bragging rights on the line. Here are some important factors as to how the game will likely break down.
During Penn State’s current nine-game winning streak, they have beaten some very impressive opponents. The Ohio State Buckeyes stand out on the list, but PSU also soundly beat the Iowa Hawkeyes and Michigan State Spartans en route to the Big 10 Championship Game, where they prevailed in insanely dramatic fashion over a Wisconsin team that had them down 21 points at the half.
For Penn State coach James Franklin, the run of success has been absolutely magical. It has made him one of the most popular head coaches in all of college football, and the way that his squad has won games proves that he and his staff know exactly what they’re doing. The Nittany Lions are an incredible second-half team, as much of the college football world saw in the aforementioned interconference battle with Wisconsin.
This means that if Penn State falls down to USC early, it will be no cause for panic. The defense can cook up stops and turnovers quickly once they get warmed up, and sophomore quarterback Trace McSorley is among the greatest players in all of college football — as far as the “pound-for-pound” label goes. He leads the 39th-ranked passing attack in all of college football, garnering just over 260 yards per game through the air. The Nittany Lions also have a very strong rushing attack, led by once-Heisman trophy contender SaQuan Barkley.
Penn State will have one of the biggest challenges in all of college football with a Southern Cal team that has flexed their muscles and shown their dominance in waves over the course of the last several decades. After a clear downtick last year that led to the departure of a coach half-way through the season, the squad has been on an amazing uptick since the calendar turned to October.
The most impressive performance on the eight-game winning streak that the Trojans concluded the season with was at Washington against a Huskies team that is now in the four-team College Football Playoff.
The speed and athleticism of the Trojan defense made their highly-ranked PAC-12 rivals look mediocre at best. If they are able to cook up that same magic against Penn State, the Nittany Lions might not be able to rely on second-half magic. Additionally, many Trojan fans will only have to travel a few dozen miles to witness this game unfold in Pasadena, California. The trip isn’t quite as convenient for Penn State fans looking to be there in person, as they will have to travel a little over 2560 miles to get from State College to the warm sunshine of the Southern Pacific Coast. But travel they will. Expect this to be one of the more entertaining games of the major bowl season. Prediction: Penn State 45 USC 43.
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