By: Kylan Watson
Yesterday’s Rose Bowl game saw a great matchup between the University of Southern California (USC) Trojans and the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) Nittany Lions. The game itself was very exciting. The Trojans would ultimately prevail by a score of 52-49. An interception thrown by PSU quarterback Trace McSorley, would lead to a last minute field goal scored by the Trojans and that would be the difference.
To most fans and experts this was just a regular bowl game, but it means so much more to the PSU and USC faithful. Both programs have gone through so much and the last few years. Up until 2015, the Trojans were under NCAA sanctions for playing with deflated footballs during the Pete Carroll coaching era, USC was also sanctioned again for violations that happened with the recruitment of Reggie Bush. As a result of those back to back sanctions USC lost scholarships and opportunities at being in a bowl game until this year. Carroll ran to the NFL to avoid actually facing consequences for the mess he made leaving his players to face the consequences. It is a testament to the fortitude of the Trojans that they could still not suffer a losing season despite all of these sanctions and distractions during the past two seasons. The Trojans were able to make it to a Rose Bowl game something they have not done since 2004. The Trojans really stayed to their “fight on” mantra. As they kept fighting despite losing a coach last year due to public intoxication, no one can ever deny the willingness of their football program to keep fighting.
Penn State was given what essentially amounted to a death penalty, due to Jerry Sandusky’s child molestation case and the negligence that went along with that case of many officials at the university. Penn State was banned from the post season for four years, all of their wins were vacated, and they were given a 60 million dollar fine. During that time players were allowed to transfer and some did, but there was a small group of seniors who persevered. They went through two coaches, Bill O’Brien left the program in 2014 to become the head coach of the Houston Texans, and James Franklin was hired to lead football program. Fast forward to two years later, a strong group of seniors who were freshman when the sanctions were handed down; are now leading a strong group of PSU players to the Rose Bowl to face the Trojans. Ultimately, the Nittany Lions would fall to the Trojans, but it speaks to the willingness to persevere of the program and the players to keep on despite these sanctions.
The Rose Bowl yesterday was more than just another football game if you look past all of the pageantry that comes with the Rose Bowl and pull the curtain back, fans and experts can see two teams who fought to get to this game after going through so much in the last four seasons.