Now that Penn State is locked into January’s Rose Bowl, they have the luxury of formulating opinions on possible opponents. Unless Oregon State stumbles this weekend, the Nittany Lions are looking at a rematch of an earlier season College Station rout of the Beavers. OSU is playing better football these days, but Penn State receiver, Deon Butler, has already indicated that he’d like to pass on a second meeting. "They're a great football team, don't get me wrong, so if they deserve to be there, they'll be there. But obviously if you go to a bowl game, you want to play someone that you haven't played all season," says Butler. If you don’t want Oregon State, you’re asking and hoping for USC, with the Trojans being the only other possibility.
Ohio State wanted the exposure of playing USC, so they were added to the regular season schedules of ’08 and ’09. The September meeting only exposed the Buckeyes as a fraud. In the last 3 Rose Bowls against Big 10 opponents, The Trojans have outscored the Midwestern boys 109-49, and let’s not forget the thrashing of Iowa in the Orange Bowl. In the spirit of accomplishment and excitement of a conference title, you may call out the big boys on the block. But when the dust settles in coming weeks, and you descend from that cloud, what you’re asking for will become clear. With Branch not wanting Oregon State, he’s asking to travel to Southern California to play USC in the postseason, and in their house. The Bruins may rent that space for home games, but the Trojans own the joint. For a program celebrating one of the best season's in recent years, that's a lot to ask for. It's an invitation to the woodshed, with the Trojans holding the paddle.
The Lions’ receiver said it’s about not playing the same team twice in the same season. I’m sure the Buckeyes would have loved the Rose Bowl invite, to have another crack at the Trojans and an opportunity for redemption. If Penn State and USC opened the season, I’m sure they wouldn’t mind closing it the same. It’s all about being on the grandest stage and playing the biggest programs. His statement isn’t about playing a team for a second time, and his thoughts are likely shared by the Rose Bowl committee. It’s about Oregon State not being USC, the biggest test for any program, and one of the biggest financial draws in the country. And of course, I'm sure the Beavers wouldn't care who the Rose Bowl opponent would be, considering the program hasn't played in that game since 1964. Just making it there would be special.