USC leapfrogs Colorado in final rankings to earn Rose Bowl bid

Despite not playing in last week’s Pac-12 Championship game, USC will be headed back to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2009 to play Penn State, the Big 10 champions.

The Trojans (9–3, 7–2) benefited from Washington’s 41–10 beat-down of then-No. 8 Colorado in the Pac-12 Championship last Friday.

It was thought that even if Colorado lost, it would not be penalized for playing an extra game and still go on to Pasadena because Washington would by-pass the Rose Bowl bid to play in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl CFP Semifinal.

The Rose Bowl Committee selects the highest-ranked Pac-12 team in the in the final CFP rankings if the conference champion is eligible for the CFP. With Colorado’s embarrassing performance, USC jumped from No. 11 to No. 9 to land ahead of Colorado, who fell to No. 10.

Colorado players and coaches were upset about being left out, but USC is riding an eight-game win streak and beat Colorado head-to-head. They were also the only team to defeat Washington.

USC will square off with arguably the nation’s other hottest team in Penn State. After defeating Wisconsin 38–31 in a 21-point comeback victory to secure the Big 10 Championship, The Nittany Lions (11–2, 8–1) extended their win streak to nine games.

Penn State leads the overall series 4–2, with Both USC wins coming in the Rose Bowl in 1923 and 2009. Led by quarterback Mark Sanchez, USC won the 2009 meeting 38–24.

USC has an overall Rose Bowl record of 24–9 and has won 11 of it’s last 13. They won three-straight from 2007–2009, defeating Michigan and Illinois in addition to Penn State.

Penn State finished the season ranked No. 5 and was the first team to be left out of the four team playoff.

“There was a handful of guys that showed a little bit of frustration and body language and things like that,” Franklin said via ESPN’s article: PSU’s James Franklin: Excitement for Rose Bowl outweighs frustration. “But 99 percent of the guys in there are just excited about staying together as a family and being able to play in such a historic bowl game.”

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