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USC Trojans headed to the Rose Bowl to play Penn State Nittany Lions

It was a rough start to the season but the Trojans bounced back in a huge way

Rose Bowl - Penn State v USC Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The USC Trojans will play the Penn State Nittany Lions in the 2017 Rose Bowl.

The USC Trojans had a brutal 1-3 start to the 2016 season that included a blow out loss to Alabama, 2 conference losses and a quarterback switch. September 2016 was one of the worst (on the field) months in USC football history. September 2016, however, now feels like ancient history.

Trojans Quarterback Sam Darnold got red hot and carried the rest of the offense with him. Juju Smith -Schuster began to return to form, tight ends were getting in on the action and unless they turned it over the USC offense seemed to be able to score at will. The Trojans defense also tightened up, caused plenty of havoc in the backfield. and repeatedly kept high-scoring offenses to their lowest point total of the season.

After the 1-3 start USC rattled off 8 straight wins beating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, UCLA Bruins and both Pac-12 Conference championship participants the Colorado Buffaloes and conference Champion Washington Huskies. If September was one of the worst months then October and November may have been two of the best. The Trojans had climbed from the cellar all the way to number 11 in the College football playoff rankings by the end of November.

Unfortunately for the Trojans 8 wins in a row did not erase their two early conferences losses to Stanford and Utah. As a result USC needed the Utes to upset Colorado in the final week of the regular season in order for the Trojans to make the conference championship game. The Buffs took care of business unfortunately and USC was forced to watch the Conference championship game from home and await their fate.

Despite missing the conference championship game USC still had a path to the Rose Bowl but it was narrow. USC was ranked 11th and Colorado was ranked 8th. USC would need Washington to make the playoffs and then need to finish ranked ahead of Colorado after the conference championship game. This path would require the Huskies to win the Pac-12 and defeat Colorado by a wide margin to make sure Colorado dropped behind the Trojans.

The Huskies held up their end of the bargain winning 41-10 against the Buffs on Friday night. USC fans would have to wait all day Saturday and into Sunday morning to see if the College Football Playoff Committee would hold up their end and keep Washington in the top 4 while dropping Colorado behind USC. If the CFP Committee failed to do either one of those then the Alamo Bowl was ready and waiting to jump on the Trojans with the first pick after the New Years Six Bowls were determined.

Early Sunday morning we found out the CFP Committee slotted Washington at number 4. With the Huskies headed to the Playoffs the Rose Bowl would have a slot open. When the remaining matchups were announced. Around 11:37 we found out that the committee kept the Huskies in the top 4 and moved the Trojans up ahead of the Buffaloes and giving USC a trip to the Rose Bowl game for the first time since January 1, 2009. This is the Trojans 34th time playing in the Rose Bowl game and their record in 24-9.

The USC Trojans last trip to the Rose Bowl was against Penn State with USC winning 38-24. Once again the Trojans will play Penn State who rallied back from a 28-7 deficit to win the Big 10 Championship. The Rose Bowl is scheduled to kickoff Monday January 2, at 1pm pst.

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