Penn State Loses Rose Bowl to USC 38-24

Jonathan SzenicsCorrespondent IJanuary 1, 2009

In yet another testament to the power of the Pac-10, and to the lack of power in the Big Ten, USC won their third straight Rose Bowl, beating Penn State 38-24 in Pasadena, California. 

In a game that was not as close as the final score, USC dominated much of the game. 

After a closely contested first quarter, USC broke the gates open with a huge second quarter of play, which almost relegated the Trojans to mop up duty in the second half of the game. 

Mark Sanchez threw for over 400 yards and totaled five touchdowns in the game, dominating throughout in a game that may quickly become his coming out party for a possible trip to the NFL. 

In a game that was supposed to be all about defense, Penn State had no answer for the Trojans all day long, and they were outmatched from the very beginning. 

The bigger shock in the game though was that Penn State did not give up, and they actually did win the second half against the Trojans. 

Yes, USC was relaxing a little bit, but instead of sleepwalking through the rest of the game, the Nittany Lions played with pride throughout the second half. 

They scored with regularity, and in the process, they became the first team to score more than seven points in the second half against the vaunted USC defense so far this season. 

As a result, they made a game out of it, and gave their fans a little something to be happy about for the off season. 

Yes, the Big Ten was blown out again in front of a national television audience, and yes, USC did dominate the game for the most part. 

Would any other team have been able to do what Penn State did against the Trojans though? 

The answer here is probably not. 

Most any other team would be been going three-and-out for the entire length of the second half when faced with a huge deficit after half time, especially against a defense like the Trojans', which may go down as one of the best in college football history.

Joe Paterno made sure that Penn State proved that they at least belonged in the game though, and for this, the legend is to be commended. 

Proving that the school was smart in giving him a three-year extension, he got the best out of his players, and he made them look into the eyes of an animal that could probably have been in a national title discussion if there was a playoff system in college football. 

He made his players believe that they could still win the game if every bounce went their way, and the result was a loss that will not look all that terrible in the record books years from now. 

When combined with the knowledge that Iowa is the only Big Ten school to win a bowl game so far this season, Penn State at least has something to be proud about. 

Yes, Iowa beat South Carolina, a marginal team at best, but that was the first of only two losses that the Nittany Lions suffered all season. 

Of course, Ohio State is getting ready to play Texas, but, in reality, unless something really odd happens, Texas should win this game in a walk. 

38-24.  It does not look like much to be happy about at first glance. 

Considering the team Penn State played though, and what many said should have happened in this game, this is actually very close to a victory. 

When combined with another lackluster bowl season by the conference as well, Penn State has nothing to be ashamed of with this loss. 

Penn State obviously has a lot of work to do next year with most of their core graduating in a few months, but the pieces are in place. 

With Paterno at the helm and with him still coaching great football, as proved by the Nittany Lions hanging tough against the Trojans, anything is possible moving forward for this football team down the line. 


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