Rose Bowl 2017: USC outlasts Penn State in instant classic

This one looked like it was going to get out of hand early. USC, who jumped out to an early 13-point lead against the Nittany Lions, and were pumping on all cylinders. After the first quarter, the two teams seemed to be going in totally different directions; Penn State was in way over their head.
That’s when Saquon Barkley flipped a switched and jumpstarted the Penn State offense. Barkley would break a 24-yard run and unleash a flurry of scores that wouldn’t stop for the rest of the game.
If you like high-flying offenses, this one was for you.
During the second quarter, the Trojans and the Nittany Lions would exchange scores and go into the half separated by only six points; 27-21. Coming out of the half, Penn State would score on its next three plays. Not possessions, plays. They would go:

  • 79 yard touchdown run for Saquon Barkley.
  • 72 yard touchdown pass from McSorley.
  • 3 yard run from McSorely.

How did the Nittany Lions get to the three-yard line? On this bobbled and batted interception that was nearly taken all the way back for a score.
The madness wouldn’t end there.
The Nittany Lions would hold a two-touchdown lead with 8:15 left in the game before USC would start mounting its comeback. After a touchdown run, the Trojans would force a stop and get the ball back before mounting another drive that would culminate with a touchdown score.
Now, with a little over two minutes to go, USC had tied the game. With a careful clock management, the Nittany Lions could put themselves in position to win the game with a field goal as time expired.
Not so fast, my friend.
Disaster struck, as the Penn State quarterback, trying to force a little “Flutie Magic,” would throw an interception that would be returned deep into field goal territory.
The Trojans decided to put the ball in the hands, or foot, of their kicker. Miraculously, they still had a chance to win this game despite falling behind and having the appearance of listless team only a quarter ago.

USC pulled off the blown lead, come from behind victory.
For Penn State, who had a legitimate gripe for not being put into the College Football Playoff after winning its conference, they played a valiant ball game. USC appeared to be the thoroughbred in this one, though.
Final score: USC: 52, Penn State: 49
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