By Charles Jay
Well, there aren’t too many teams in the country who were hotter down the stretch than the USC Trojans and the Penn State Nittany Lions. USC got things done with a brand-new quarterback at the helm, while Penn State got its act together after a horrific beating at the hands of Michigan (49-10) and didn’t lose again, culminating its come back as a program with a win in the Big Ten championship game, coming back from 14 points down to do so. These teams meet in the Rose Bowl, which begins at 5 PM ET and will be televised on ESPN. BetAnySports customers can watch this game and place their wagers in real time, as they access the state-of-the-art software made available through live Live Betting Ultra.
USC was 9-3 straight-up on the season, with a 8-4 record against the football pointspread. Penn State went 11-2 straight-up and was 9-3-1 ATS. But that doesn’t really tell the story of these teams. USC, which sent Cody Kessler to the pros (and a starting assignment for the Cleveland Browns) had to find another quarterback, and they gave the job to Max Browne, a widely heralded talent from high school who had actually lost of the job to Kessler originally. But Browne, although serviceable, could not get the team moving in a manner that satisfied coach Clay Helton. So, in a game against Utah which the Trojans eventually lost, Sam Darnold was inserted into the game, and everything changed after that. After a 1-3 start, which included a shameful 52-6 loss to Alabama, USC has won eight games in a row, covering seven of them. Only a 21-17 victory over Colorado was a single-digit margin during that time. In the highlight, of course, was the 26-13 victory over Washington, in which Darnold threw for 287 yards and the Trojan defense completely shut down the Washington offense, holding them to just 17 net rushing yards.
In the Rose Bowl odds that have been posted on this game by the people at BetAnySports, USC is favored by a touchdown:
USC Trojans -7
Penn State Nittany Lions +7
Over 59 points -110
Under 59 points -110
This is the 33rd Rose Bowl appearance for USC, which finished up its season playing in Los Angeles County, beating traditional rivals UCLA and Notre Dame by a combined 81-41 margin. This is a team with a superior offensive line, which cleared the way for 5.3 yards per carry in the rushing game and allowed to Darnold to be sacked only five times. And quite obviously everyone knows that would all the great recruits they get, USC has a lot of speed on defense. Very few teams were able to run on them with any kind of success, and since the time Darnold took over, only Arizona and California (which was surprising) ran on them at all.
They have a pair of great cornerbacks in Adoree’ Jackson and Iman Marshall, and that will certainly be a challenge for Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley, who has been able to get the ball down the field with some regularity (9.4 yards per attempt) and threw for 25 touchdown passes. BetAnySports patrons know that the Nittany Lions also have great balance on offense, with running back Saquon Barkley, who scored 16 touchdowns on the ground on the way to 1302 rushing yards. Penn State shut a lot of week teams down on the ground, although Wisconsin did manage 241 yards from its infantry in that Big Ten championship contest. But Penn State came back from a two-touchdown deficit in that one, and they have shown the ability to come back in the second half with huge efforts all season long.
Will turnovers be a factor? USC was minus-2 in turnover margin for the season, while Penn State was at +3. However, Penn State, with 38 quarterback sacks, is probably the bigger threat to get pressure on the passer.
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