Let’s just rename the event and call it “The woodshed” powered by Citi. For the third consecutive year, the Trojans have dragged their Big 10 Rose Bowl opponents behind that Pasadena shed, where they were paddled into submission. A new program, new coaching staff, new theories, and a fresh batch of criticism, yet we have the same results. Though the 38-24 final score may appear respectable and hint of a 4 quarter war on the football field, this was total domination by USC, in a game that was basically over at the half.
All the Penn State offerings that were supposed to make this game different than others were wrong. Daryll Clark was hardly a weapon, same goes for Royster, Norwood, Maybin, and any others you’d like to include. The underdog factor was insignificant, and Joe Paterno’s month of preparation was irrelevant. But of all the criticism, the one furthest from truth, and most likely to make “experts” embarrassed of their own words, was the so called “struggles and inconsistency” of the Southern Cal offense.
After 2 quarters, USC already had 31 points on the board, with Penn State stuck on 7. Mark Sanchez orchestrated a merciless passing attack that made the Nittany Lions secondary appear as one of the softest the Trojans had faced all season. Of the 33 Rose Bowl games played by USC, the 31 points scored represent the most ever by a Southern California team in the first half. Sanchez finished the day with 413 yards, completing 28 of 35 passes. He threw for 4 touchdowns, and added another on the ground. Damian Williams had his way with the Lions secondary, concluding his day with 10 receptions for 162 yards and a score.
The well publicized Trojans defense lived up to the billing in the first half, clamping down and restricting any Penn State movement. After scoring early in the first quarter, the Lions were shutout in the 2nd and third quarters, before accumulating meaningless scores and yards in the fourth, with the Trojans clearly in command and anticipating the final ticks of the clock. Even after the Lions went 80 yards on 10 plays for a 4th quarter touchdown, against a defense that surrenders few scores in the second half of football games, the Trojans quickly answered with a 3 play 85 yard drive that was capped by a 45 yard touchdown pass from Sanchez to Ronald Johnson. If the Lions questioned the Trojans ability to resurrect the offense, they shouted an affirmative answer on that drive.
The often scrutinized Pac 10 finishes 5-0 in the postseason, defeating 4 ranked opponents in the 5 games played. If you include Notre Dame’s victory in the Hawaii bowl, 5 of USC’s regular season opponents were triumphant in Bowl games, with Ohio State still waiting to play. The Trojans became the first program to win 3 consecutive Rose Bowls, and Pete Carroll becoming the first coach to do so. The Trojans have now won 9 straight over Big 10 opponents, with all games decided by double digits. The victory also gives USC a 6-1 record in BCS Bowl games, and their 31st bowl victory to tie Alabama for the most all time.