2017 Cotton Bowl Betting Prediction: USC vs. Ohio State

USC vs Penn State Rose Bowl Spread, Pick & TV Info

Written by on December 30, 2016

The 103rd Rose Bowl Game will feature No. 5 Penn State, champion of the Big Ten Conference, and No. 9 USC. Known as the oldest of bowls, the Rose Bowl Game began in 1902. Since then, the game has been home to 19 Heisman Trophy winners and produced 29 national champions. Neither the Trojans nor the Nittany Lions have lost since September. Penn State is riding a nine-game winning streak after rallying from a three-touchdown deficit to beat Wisconsin for the Big Ten championship. And the Trojans are on an eight-game win streak and solid favorites on NCAA odds playing in their backyard.

USC vs Penn State Rose Bowl Spread, Betting Pick & TV Info

When: Monday, Jan. 2, 5 PM ET
Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
Stream: WatchESPN
Radio: USC / Penn State
Opening NCAA Football Lines: USC -7 (59)

Why Bet on Penn State?

Penn State won its fourth Big Ten title after a comeback victory over Wisconsin, 38-31, to finish the season 11-2 overall and 8-1 in conference play. The Nittany Lions will make their fourth appearance in the Rose Bowl Game, with their last appearance in the Granddaddy of them All in 2009. Their overall record in the Rose Bowl Game is 1-2, with their lone victory in the 1995 Rose Bowl Game against the University of Oregon.

Penn State sophomore Saquon Barkley is the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and rushed for 1,302 yards. Barkley also caught 23 passes for 347 yards and another three touchdowns as a receiver. If Penn State is going to pick up a win over the Trojans, it will need Barkley to be at his best.

Signal-caller Trace McSorley tossed 25 TDs and has a 156.6 passer efficiency. Over the last two games, McSorley has arguably been the country’s best signal-caller. In that time, he completed 72 percent of his passes for 760 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions.

But this week, Penn State's James Franklin, the Big Ten Coach of the Year, announced that junior wide receiver Saeed Blacknall and sophomore linebacker Manny Bowen were both suspended due to a violation of team rules. Blacknall led the team with a 23.1-yard average per catch, with 15 receptions for 347 yards and three touchdowns. He had six catches of 20 or more yards. Blacknall was a big reason the Nittany Lions rallied to beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game as he had career highs with six catches, 155 yards and two touchdowns (on receptions of 40 and 70 yards).

Bowen was a 12-game starter this season and a key cog in Penn State's No. 23-ranked defense. He is fifth on the team in tackles (68) and tied for second in tackles for a loss (8.5). Bowen found a permanent spot in the starting lineup following a season-ending injury to Nyeem Wartman-White.

Why Bet on USC?

USC finished the season 9-3 overall and with a 7-2 mark in the Pac-12. USC beat Colorado in October and closed the season on an eight-game win streak, thus beating the Buffaloes out for the Rose Bowl spot opposite Penn State.

USC sophomore Ronald Jones II rushed for 1,027 yards — and actually outgained PSU’s Barkley over the last five games. USC quarterback Sam Darnold threw for 26 TDs and boasts a passer efficiency mark of 161.0. The Trojans’ offensive line gives Darnold plenty of time, and when there are breakdowns, the redshirt freshman has the ability to create on his own.

The defense has handled both the run and the pass well, the offense has dynamic playmakers at running back and receiver, and Adoree’ Jackson is probably the most dangerous kick and punt returner in the country. Jackson figures to have an expanded role in USC’s offense, too. After recording 27 receptions in 2015, he had only one reception this season, but it came in the regular-season finale against Notre Dame and went for a 52-yard touchdown.

Jackson was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and honored with the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s best defensive back, and JuJu Smith-Schuster is considered a potential first-round pick. Together they form arguably the best receiver-cornerback duo in college football. Over the past three years, Smith-Schuster’s 206 catches for 2,959 yards are the most in the Pac-12, and his 24 touchdown receptions rank No. 2.

As good as the Penn State offense is … it’s terrible on third downs. This is a big play offense that chucks it downfield and takes plenty of deep shots, but it doesn’t do much to move the chains converting just 32% of the third down tries. Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin, the Nittany Lions converted 9-of- 32 chances. USC’s defense is 15th in the nation on third downs.

The Trojans will make their 33rd Rose Bowl Game appearance, the most appearance by any school in history. Their last appearance in the game was in 2009 against Penn State, a 38-24 win, and finished a stretch during which the Trojans played in four straight Rose Bowl Games and five in six years. They hold a 24-8 overall record in their Rose Bowl Game appearances.

USC vs Penn State Rose Bowl Betting Pick: USC Trojans

Nittany Lions are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games.Over is 8-3- 1 in Trojans last 12 non-conference games.

Take USC and go over the betting total.