2009 Rose Bowl Preview and Picks – Penn State Nittany Lions vs. USC Trojans

No. 5 USC Trojans -10, 45 O/U (11-1) 6-6 ATS, 3-9 O/U vs. No. 6 Penn State Nittany Lions +10, 45 O/U (11-1) 7-3-1 ATS, 7-4 O/U January 1, 2009 Pasadena, California Rose Bowl (92,000) 5:00 p.m. EST
by Wilson of Predictem.com

The USC Trojans are once again favored to win the Rose Bowl, and they may want to send the Oregon Ducks a nice Christmas gift. The Ducks beat the Oregon State Beavers which resulted in the Trojan’s benefit, as the Beavers upset the Trojans earlier this season which gave them priority to Pasadena given they win out in the Pac-10. Oregon spoiled the Beaver’s season by thumping them in the annual Civil War game.

Now that the Beavers are out of the way, the Trojans look to dig in against a tough Joe Paterno led Penn State out of the Big Ten. The last time these two teams met was in 1923 when Penn State made its first Rose Bowl appearance. The Nittany Lions lost that game 14-3. The payback opportunity is finally here, some 86 years later. Both teams are 11-1 and are very similar on paper.


USC is averaging nearly 38 points per game while Penn State is putting up 40 points per contest. The Trojans have the advantage on defense as they only allow 7.8 points per game to their opponents while the Nittany Lions are not far behind at 12.4 points per outing.

Penn State’s QB, Daryll Clark, showed that he was ready to play in the Rose Bowl by having a career day behind center. Clark threw for 341 yards and four touchdowns as the Nittany Lions destroyed No. 22 Michigan State 49-18. Penn State has now joined just six other collegiate programs that have won 800 football games or more.

USC beat their cross town rival UCLA last week 28-7. The MVP of the game goes to the entire defense. The Trojans held the Bruins to 7 first downs and 157 yards of total offense. Defensively, the Trojans are second to none in the country, and they have been consistent all season minus the loss to Oregon State (even a blind squirrel finds a nut from time to time).

This will be USC’s fourth straight Rose Bowl appearance and their seventh consecutive 11-win season. The Trojans come into the post season enjoying a 9-game winning streak where they have outscored their opponents 342-56! Break down that game-film! What will Penn State do to fool or avoid the fearsome Trojan defense? Maybe Joe will give one of his tackles his cane to help fight off the rush or trip up a linebacker in pursuit. But let’s not forget about the Penn State defense as they boast a respectable game as well.

Personally, I think this game will be a great matchup. The Trojans are favored early by 10 but I think that line will tighten by New Year’s Day.

The way USC has been playing lately they certainly look unbeatable, but they were ranked No. 1 when they lost in Corvallis, Oregon to the OSU Beavers. Penn State smashed the Beavers earlier this season, so anything is possible.

Both Penn State and USC have confident QB’s in Clark and Sanchez who will, no doubt, lead their teams but it may likely come down to a grinding defensive battle, a game of stops, a classic Big Ten/Pac-10 shoving match! If defense decides this contest I have to lean towards USC and their 7.8 stingy allowances per game.

Wilson’s Pick: If you’ve never been to the Rose Bowl you should go, but bring a sweatshirt as it cools off considerably in the second half! I like the home town hero in this game. USC 28, Penn State 21; State covers the spread. Luck to ya.