South­ern Cal­i­for­nia meets Penn State in 103rd Rose Bowl

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and Penn State fol­lowed two dif­fi­cult paths to reach a re­mark­able re­union eight years later in the Rose Bowl. The Tro­jans will face the Big Ten cham­pi­ons on Jan. 2 in the 103rd edi­tion of the Grand­daddy of Them All. The re­match of the 2009 game show­cases two ven­er­a­ble foot­ball pro­grams that have emerged from bad times since their last trip to this tra­di­tional post­sea­son desti­na­tion for their con­fer­ences.

“I can’t think of a bet­ter re­ward for our foot­ball team af­ter this sea­son,” USC coach Clay Hel­ton said. “These are the things you dream about as a lit­tle kid.” USC (9-3) will meet Penn State (11-2) in a re­match of the Tro­jans’ 38-24 vic­tory eight years ago - the last trip to the Rose Bowl for ei­ther team. Since then, both pro­grams were rocked to their foun­da­tions by scan­dals and NCAA sanc­tions. But both capped years of progress with break­throughs this fall, re­cov­er­ing from sim­i­larly slow starts to be­come two of the na­tion’s top teams. Coach James Franklin’s Nit­tany Lions have won nine straight games, cul­mi­nat­ing in a 38-31 vic­tory over Wis­con­sin on Satur­day night in the Big Ten cham­pi­onship game. Penn State fin­ished fifth in the fi­nal Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off rank­ings, just ahead of Michi­gan. “How hum­bled and hon­ored we are to have this op­por­tu­nity,” Franklin said. “I think this is a game and a bowl that play­ers and coaches grow up dream­ing about hav­ing an op­por­tu­nity to play in and be a part of one day.”

Hel­ton’s Tro­jans have won eight games in a row, capped by back-to-back vic­to­ries over top ri­vals UCLA and Notre Dame. The Tro­jans barely missed out on the Pac-12 ti­tle game be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Colorado - who were both beaten con­vinc­ingly by USC - but over­took the Buf­faloes in the fi­nal play­off rank­ings to snag their record 34th Rose Bowl berth. Penn State will make its fourth ap­pear­ance in the Rose Bowl, in­clud­ing three against USC. The Rose Bowl berth is an­other milestone in the pro­gram’s re­vival af­ter the scan­dal sur­round­ing for­mer de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Jerry San­dusky, who was in­dicted on 40 counts of sex crimes in 2011.

USC has played in far more Rose Bowls than any other team. The Tro­jans’ down­town cam­pus is 15 miles from the sta­dium, which be­came the pro­gram’s sec­ond home dur­ing the dom­i­nant years of coach Pete Car­roll.—AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.