Breaking Down the Rose Bowl's Key Matchup: PSU's Offense vs. USC's Defense

Anthony EliasCorrespondent IDecember 30, 2008

Apparently it is a foregone conclusion that Penn State's good defense will butt heads with USC's good offense and pretty much deadlock.

Although this matchup will be fun to watch, many analysts, sports writers, and fans all agree on one thing, and that is...

The key matchup in this game is Penn State's 11th-ranked offense against USC's first ranked defense in the nation.

Simple as that.

If we take an in-depth look at Penn State's offense we will find a balanced and multi-faceted one.

Spread HD. Two words that struck some fear into many teams this season.

Daryll Clark passing to a trio of wide receivers in Derrick Williams, Jordan Norwood, and Deon Butler that have combined for 121 catches, 1769 yards, and 15 touchdowns.

If he is not passing, he is handing it off to the 1-2 punch of Evan Royster and Stephfon Green, who combined for 280 carries, 1723 yards, and 16 touchdowns. 

Pretty lethal. Not to mention, Clark can run.

75 carries for 265 yards and 12 touchdowns.

And that offensive line?

The main reason this offensive unit has been averaging 40 points a game.

Pretty good...although there were a couple of games where moving the ball was a problem, especially at Ohio State and Iowa.

USC's defense?

They are first in the country in total defense.

They allow how many points per game?




Award winning linebacker?

USC has him. His name is Rey Maualuga.

This 6'3" 250 pound linebacker has terrorized the Pac-10 for much of his career at USC.

This year though, the man has played lights out, leading the Trojans with 66 tackles.  He has a knack for the big plays, and has two interceptions this year. 

Watch for yourself: Ray's Highlight Reel 

Amazing. Stellar. Unbelievable. But just like Penn State's offense had some trouble in select games, this USC defense had a bad game at Oregon State, in which they were gashed by Jacquizz Rodgers for 186 yards and two touchdowns as well as allowing a season high 27 points to the Beavers.

So will Penn State move the ball against them? And if so, how?

Daryl Clark must play flawless. Not be great. Just flawless.

If he does not throw a single interception or touchdown pass, but Penn State wins, that would be great.

But who cares if he throws for five touchdowns...but throws the pick six that wins the game for USC!?

I never thought I would say this.


If you cannot find a way to light up that USC defense without something costly, then play like Anthony Morelli in bowl games. You think I'm kidding? 

In a 2006 Outback Bowl victory over Tennessee, Morelli went 14-25 for 197 yards and a touchdown pass. No mistakes.

In a 2007 Alamo Bowl victory, Morelli was 15-31 for 143 yards and a touchdown pass. No mistakes.

Morelli found a way to play it safe in bowl games, and still lead the team to victory. That is the role Clark must play at the least.

That is what PSU needs at the very least.

My prediction is ala Jacquizz, Penn State will move the ball and control the tempo of the game through the running game.

The Penn State offensive line is tops in the country, especially in seniority. It is a talented bunch that could open up some major holes.

Royster and Green will be the difference in this game, especially because running up the middle will neutralize USC's speed on the outside.

If these guys have a big day, it could lead to big things for Penn State.

Also look for Derrick Williams out of the Wildcat formation to really spice things up, and vary things a bit.

All in all, if Penn State is to have any chance at this game, they will have to beat USC on the ground, minimize the mistakes through the air, and play Penn State football.


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