Coming up roses: Trojans headed to Pasadena for Rose Bowl

USC heads back to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2009 and will face the same opponent, Penn State, as its last trip.

The postseason is coming up quite rosey for the USC Trojans.

USC is heading back to Pasadena where it will play in the Rose Bowl for the first time since January 2009. In that game, the Trojans beat Penn State 38-24 to claim their record 24th Rose Bowl victory.

USC will once again play the Nittany Lions, but the Trojans won't be going as the Pac-12 champion this season. Instead, the Trojans slid into the Pac-12's Rose Bowl spot after conference champion Washington finished No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings. The Huskies are headed to Atlanta to play in the national semifinal against No. 1 Alabama in the Chik-Fil-A Peach Bowl.

That left the Rose Bowl open for the next highest ranked Pac-12 team. The Trojans were No. 11 in last week's rankings and needed to jump No. 8 Colorado, but the CFP selection committee dropped the Buffaloes two spots to No. 10 after a 41-10 thrashing from Washington in the Pac-12 championship. Though it was idle, USC moved up to No. 9, following the lead of the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls, which both had USC at No. 8 and Colorado at No. 11.

It is possibly USC's most improbable run to a Rose Bowl berth after starting the season 1-3 before reeling off eight consecutive wins. The unlikely run sets the Trojans up for a 10th all-time matchup with the Nittany Lions, who rallied for a 35-31 win over Wisconsin in the Big 10 championship, scoring 31 of the final 34 points of the game against Justin Wilcox's defense. USC leads the all-time series 5-4 thanks to wins in the last two matchups -- the Kickoff Classic XVIII in 2000 and the Rose Bowl at the end of the 2008 season.

USC will try to improve upon its 24-9 record in the Rose Bowl and try to build upon its 34-18 all-time bowl record. Penn State is 28-16-2 all time in bowl games, including a 1-2 record in the Rose Bowl. (Penn State was an independent for 106 years before joining the Big 10 in 1993.)

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