USC-Penn State Rose Bowl Should Feature Great Offenses And Theatre

rose bowl

Thursday, December 29, 2016 2:14 PM GMT

The Final Four in college football might have the four best teams, but right now it would seem unlikely any of them would want to do battle with No. 9 USC or No. 5 Penn State the way they finished the season. The Trojans and Nittany Lions square off in the Jan. 2 Rose Bowl. 

Both these teams had "that moment," which turned what was looking like a rather ordinary season into a great one and resulted in Rose Bowl berth for both. Southern Cal is -7 on college football odds.

The Trojans started freshman QB Sam Darnold against Utah and had the Utes beat before giving up touchdown with 16 seconds left. Both the offense and defense realized they could not play timid and hope to win.

Most think the improbable win over Ohio State gave Penn State the confidence to think it was a very good team. While the Nittany Lions started to believe they could compete with anyone, three weeks prior they came from behind twice against Minnesota, including in the final seconds of regulation, and knocked off the Golden Gophers in OT to get the ball rolling.

Time to delve into who can pull this one out for college football picks.

Penn State Covers & Possibly Pulls Upset By ...

Continuing to hit big plays like the Lions have in closing the season 9-0 and 8-1 ATS. No Big Ten quarterback was hotter to finish the season than Trace McSorley, who was 39-for-54 passing for 760 yards, eight touchdowns and no picks in final two contests. It should be noted 384 of those yards came against a Wisconsin secondary that had allowed only 191 YPG passing coming into the Big Ten championship contest. Also, RB Saquon Barkley, the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, should be completely healthy with the time off and the Penn State defense was tied for 10th nationally with 39 sacks. USC has playmakers in the secondary, but the Nittany Lions receivers go get the ball and are underrated.

USC Wins & Covers By ...

Being able to run the ball on Penn State. The Nittany Lions more rely on hitting "chunk plays," while USC averages four more minutes of offensive possessions than this opponent. In studying the numbers, the Men of Troy average 206 YPG on the ground, and while Penn State can create negative plays, against the eight bowl teams they faced they permitted 206 YPG on the ground. Darnold also has talented pass catchers who can gain yards in a hurry. The Trojans defense has great individual athletes who came together to help their team finish 8-0 and 7-1 ATS, and USC seldom gives a poor showing in January in Pasadena.

Motivation Level

With how these teams finished, both peaked at the perfect time and should be ready mentally and physically to play their best football.

What To Watch For

It would be really easy to take USC, playing in its backyard as a favorite. However, there is something about this Penn State team, which just keeps making plays, and I will forecast they will hang with the Trojans. If the Nittany Lions force turnovers, they will the game; if not, they fall by either three or four points.

NCAAF Free Pick: PSU +7

Best Line Offered: BookMaker

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