College football bowl season is here, bringing with it a star-studded College Football Playoff and several enticing bowl games.
Chief among the non-playoff games with the potential to be an awesome watch is the Rose Bowl Game, which features two of the hottest teams in all of college football: Penn State and USC.
Penn State is 11-2 and riding a nine-game winning streak into the Rose Bowl. USC is 9-3 and turned things around following a 1-3 start to win its past eight games. All signs point to an explosion of offense on January 2.
Related: Complete 2016 College Football Bowl Game Schedule
Jan. 2, 2017: 5 PM ET
USC is 64th in the FBS this season in passing yards per game allowed (225.3). Penn State averages 261.2 yards per game and just torched the stout Wisconsin Badgers defense for 384 passing yards and 38 points in the Big Ten Championship Game.
The Trojan offense was credited for the team's turnaround this season, but the defense has grown by leaps and bounds, too. After giving up 36.7 points per game in their first four matchups (with losses to Alabama, Utah and Stanford in the stretch), USC has allowed only 18.6 points per game during their eight-game winning streak.
Trace McSorley — QB, Penn State
Saquon Barkley — RB, Penn State
Chris Goodwin — WR, Penn State
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley is looking to hit the deep ball. He completes just 50.7 percent of his passes, but averages 16.3 yards per completion. Four Penn State receivers — Chris Godwin, Mike Gesicki, DaeSean Hamilton and DeAndre Thompkins — have at least 25 catches and 400 receiving yards each. Saquon Barkley is a talented, two-time 1,000-yard running back, and Penn State's defense, while lacking star power, has improved down the stretch.
Sam Darnold — QB, USC
Adoree' Jackson — CB, USC
JuJu Smith-Schuster — WR, USC
Sam Darnold solidified USC's shaky quarterback situation early this season to help inspire the Trojan's turnaround. JuJu Smith-Schuster is an explosive weapon in the receiving ranks and cornerback Adoree' Jackson will affect the game on defense, special teams, and possibly even offense. Ronald Jones II rushed for more than 1,000 yards this season and averaged 6.5 yards per carry along the way.
Penn State finished the season No. 5 in the College Football Playoff, and probably isn't happy that a team they beat — Ohio State — was included in the playoff despite not winning the Big Ten Championship. USC is better than their 9-3 record after cleaning up a rough start, and has shown it can slow down a prolific passing attack in a road win at Washington.
Can either defense slow down the opposing offense in the Rose Bowl? Will McSorely connect on enough deep passes to keep the Nittany Lions in the game? In a matchup of two explosive offenses, the better/hotter defense will prevail.
Penn State: 34