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SCS.COM BOWL PREVIEW SERIES: ROSE
December 30, 2008

SCS.comĎThe Granddaddy Of Them Allí is easily the best bowl game in college football. Nothing can beat the late afternoon start that allows the viewer to watch the kickoff in daylight and the 2nd half under the lights. The Big 10-Pac 10 tie-in is classic college football at its best. Listening to Brent Musburger call the game is as good as it gets after the legendary Keith Jackson retired in 2006. The Rose Bowl is all about history and pageantry. Ask Southern California, this will be their 30th appearance in the Rose Bowl. The Trojans will meet Penn State, who will be playing in their 3rd Rose Bowl. USC is 3-0 in Rose Bowls (if we do not include their national championship loss to Texas) since 2004. Penn State is going to have to play a perfect game if they want to beat the explosive Trojans.

Rose Bowl - Southern California vs Penn State
January 2 - 4:00 PM CST ESPN TV - Memphis, TN

The matchup...

USC and PSU both come into the game with one loss. If you erase those losses, these teams are playing in the national title game, not the Rose Bowl. Penn State was upset at Iowa. PSU was beaten by a last-second field goal. If that kick hooks out, Joe Paternoís Nittany Lions would be a perfect 12-0. The Trojans lost on the road to Oregon State. After that loss, USC dominated every Pac-10 foe that got in its way. Many feel the Trojans will treat Penn State like they treated Ohio State earlier in the season.
Intro to game; Paragraph 2, about 50 words

When USC has the ball...

USC has a balanced offense that relies on its athletes to make big plays. USC does not have a single rusher with more than 650 rushing yards for this season. However, they have the 17th ranked rushing offense in the nation. Joe McKnight leads the stable of backs with 648 yards rushing. Stafon Johnson leads the group with nine touchdowns. C.J. Gable might be the best of them all. He has 604 yards and eight touchdowns this year. Quarterback Mark Sanchez is not Carson Palmer or Matt Leinart, but he has been sufficient. Sanchez has thrown for 2784 yards and thirt touchdowns and ten interceptions. He has three primary targets, Ronald Johnson, Patrick Turner, and Damian Williams. Those three combined for 24 touchdowns catches during the regular season.
USCís offense is full of five star super athletes. However, PSU prides itself on defense. The one thing it has over Ohio Stateís defense, a defense that was torched for 38 points, is great defensive line pressure. Aaron Maybin ranks fourth in the nation with 12 sacks. The way to beat the Trojans is to get pressure on Sanchez. PSUís depth at defensive end bodes well for them in this game. Penn State has the nationís 5th ranked total defense and 3rd ranked scoring defense. As long as they keep USC in the 20s, the defense will have done its job. If any defense can slow USCís offense down, it is PSU.

When Penn State has the ball...

Another defense that could shut USC down is USCís defense. Not because they know the plays and formations. No, they could stop the USC offense, or any offense in college football for that matter, because USC has the best defense in the country. They rank 1st in pass defense, total defense, and scoring defense. Linebackers Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing are future NFL stars. Safety Taylor Mays looks like a pro-bowl safety. USCís defense is fast, physical, and opportunistic. Only two teams have scored more than ten points against USC. However, Penn State is better than your average Pac-10 team (UCLA, Arizona).
PSUís offense was unstoppable until they were slowed down by Ohio State and Iowa. However, they regrouped and scored 83 points in their final two games. Evan Royster has been a pleasant surprise this season at running back, rushing for 1202 yards and 12 scores. Stephon Green and Derrick Williams will line up in the back field from time to time as well for PSU. Quarterback Daryll Clark is mobile, but he prefers to stay in the pocket. He was very efficient this season, throwing 17 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions. His nine rushing touchdowns will keep USC honest. Just like USC, PSU relies on three receivers for most of their passing attack production. Seniors Deon Butler, Derrick Williams, and Jordan Norwood combined for 121 receptions, 15 touchdowns, and 1769 yards. Their offense will push USCís top ranked defense to its limits.

Star watch...

Derrick Williams, after years of mediocrity, is finally coming into his own. The speedster is utilized in several ways. He returns punts and kick offs. He is the often used to rush the ball. He is also Clarkís primary receiving target. He has nine total touchdowns this year, one in each category of special teams, rushing, and receiving. He is explosive and dangerous. However, to solidify himself in PSU history, he needs to have a big game against a highly ranked opponent, something that many have failed to see from him. Williams will get well acquainted with USCís star player, Rey Maualuga. The 2008 Chuck Bednarik Award winner plays with a mean streak that is unmatched in college football. He leads the team in tackles, 73, and has intercepted two passes this year (one of which was returned for a touchdown). He is the brightest star on this star-filled defense.

Deciding factor...

Can PSU, who is from the Big 10, slow down the Trojanís high powered offense? OSU has a great defense, but they were gashed for huge gains when they played in September. PSU has a chance to put the Big 10 back on the map with a win against one of the nationís best teams. It is not out of the question to suggest that PSU will be shut down by USCís defense. However, will PSU return the favor? If they want to win, they have to force turnovers, three and outs, and be more physical than one of the most physical teams in the nation.
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