The Penn State Nittany Lions stand on the doorstep of the most important game of their modern era after an incredible season that will forever go down in the history books. Sitting at 2-2 after the first four games, even the most loyal of fans could not have possibly imagined that they would be ranked #5 at the end of the season, just one slot short of the 2016 College Football Playoff.
They will star in the Rose Bowl, which will take place in the late-afternoon and evening of Monday, January 2. PSU will square off against USC, and the location suggests that it is basically a home game for the Trojans.
But Penn State coach James Franklin has encouraged the masses who are going to make the massive cross-country trip to come dressed in all-white, which will clearly delineate the Lions supporters from those from the Men of Troy.
As far as the numbers go, this is expected to be a high-scoring affair. The Trojans won the final eight games of their season, exactly like the Nittany Lions did. But Penn State finished their epic run with a dramatic 38-31 victory in the Big-10 Championship in Indianapolis.
The keys to this game will lie in just how effective a handful of stud defenders from USC are able to be. The squad has a defensive lineman, a linebacker and a defensive back who are all expected to go on the top two rounds of next year’s NFL Draft, and they will clearly have plenty of time to game plan for the Penn State attack.
Once again, the gravity of the game will likely fall upon the sturdy shoulders of sophomore quarterback Trace McSorley, who will look to get the team out to a hot start. PSU has trailed in so many games this season going into the half, but they have absolutely dominated the second half this year, including a historic run over the last month and a half.
That is a testament to amazing coaching, which just might be enough to propel the storybook squad to victory on the second day of 2017. Las Vegas currently has Penn State as a 6 ½ point underdog.