USC in the Rose Bowl: When facts are fun

So much to know about USC and its second home in the Rose Bowl and its rivalry with Penn State. So away we go.

Thanks to the way the Rose Bowl schedule works out this year, we have plenty of time to check out all the history of the Trojans in their second home -- as well as their rivalry with Penn State starting back in 1923 when the Nittany Lions showed up -- late -- for the first game at the Arroyo Seco site.

USC calls some of these nuggets "Fun Facts" in the Rose Bowl Media Guide. We just think these Trojan football factoids -- past and present -- are fun to find out.

*** Interesting the way USC generously recognizes teams with 10 or more bowl games under their belt and says that with its .660 winning percentage (33-17 according to the NCAA), USC is the seventh-highest all-time in bowls, behind Marshall's.846, Utah’s .789, Miami of Ohio’s and San Jose State’s .700, Boise State’s .688 and Toledo’s .667 with USC’s 33 bowl victories -- second behind Alabama’s 36 for most all-time with each team having one win vacated.

*** But we think the way Penn State does it, figuring the nation's all-time winningest bowl teams based on 20 bowl games, which avoids so many of the lesser programs above with wins in lesser bowl games. Going by that metric, USC is No. 1 and Penn State No. 3. That's what we're talking about here. No. 1 vs. No. 3.

*** And while USC can take credit to a mere 50 bowl appearances thanks to the shamefully corrupt NCAA Committee on Infractions, we're counting them all -- 52. That would tie USC for No. 3 all-time moving them ahead of Tennessee and Georgia with 51 each and into a tie with Nebraska at 52 and behind only Alabama's 65 (we gave the Tide one the NCAA took away) and Texas' 53. And this year's Rose Bowl would move USC up to 53 and a tie with the non-bowl-bound Longhorns. Just one more reason to demand the record book to be restored for USC. 

*** One place this does work for USC is that with the vacated 2006 loss to Texas, USC has a 24-8 (.750) Rose Bowl record instead of 24-9.

*** For point of reference, the rest of the Pac-12 in the Rose Bowl is 27-32-3. That means the Pac-12's overall 51-41-3 Rose Bowl record is due to USC -- and it's not even close, especially with USC winning 11 of its last 13 in the Pasadena bowl.

*** And did you know that USC's nine-game bowl win streak (the 1923-30-32-33-39-40-44-45 Rose Bowls and 1924 Christmas Festival) is second only the Florida State's 11.

*** USC played in an unprecedented seven consecutive BCS bowl appearances, counting them all, behind the nine of Ohio State and Oklahoma and eight of Florida State with its five BCS bowl wins tying Oho State for No. 1 all-time.

*** USC is 74-28-3 (.719) against current Big Ten opponents and had won 13 straight against the Big Ten until last year's embarrassing 23-21 Holiday Bowl loss to Wisconsin and USC has won 41 of its last 51 games against Big Ten teams. Penn State, meanwhile, is 24-13-0 (.649) against current Pac-12 members (4-5 against USC) with the Trojans in the 2009 Rose Bowl (38-24 USC win) the last Pac-12 team Penn State has played.

*** As far as USC at the Rose Bowl all-time (counting regular season games), the Trojans are 34-20 (counting the Texas game) after playing the first-ever game there in 1922 (a 12-0 loss to Cal). 

*** By the numbers together, USC has 11 national championships, Penn State 2. USC has seven Heisman Trophy winners (including Reggie Bush, Penn State 1). USC has 166 first-team All-Americans, Penn State 99. Not only do the programs share legendary coaches -- USC with Howard Jones, John McKay, John Robinson and Pete Carroll, Penn State with Hugo Bezdek, Rip Engle and Joe Paterno. And both programs have distinctive, classic and uniforms (USC’s cardinal and gold, PSU’s blue and white), with name-free jerseys. USC is “Tailback U.” with Penn State “Linebacker U.”

*** Some USC-Penn State connections currently: USC TE Cary Angeline is from Dowington East High in Exton...Penn State's one player from California is LB Koa Farmer of Notre Dame High in Sherman Oaks . . . USC running backs coach/run game coordinator Tommie Robinson is the cousin of Penn State CB Christian Campbell with both from Phenix City, Ala. . . . Silas Redd played tailback at both Penn State (2010-11) and USC (2012-13) . . ..USC athletic director Lynn Swann was a long-time resident of Pennsylvania during and after his playing career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he won four Super Bowls and eventually ran for Pennsylvania governor . . . Penn State assistant track coach Lucais MacKay played football and track at USC (1999-2000) . . . USC offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Tee Martin played quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers (2001-02) . . . USC defensive line coach Kenechi Udeze was an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Pitt (2014) . . . Two former Trojans are on the NFL’s Pennsylvania teams: WR Nelson Agholor with the Philadelphia Eagles and TE Xavier Grimble with the Pittsburgh Steelers . . . and finally, Penn State corner Grant Haley's younger brother, Wesley, is a USC manager. They are from Atlanta.

*** A total of 15 USC football lettermen all-time have claimed Pennsylvania as hometown and attended school in the state before coming to USC: FL Gene Arrington (Steelton/Harrisburg HS); S Gerald Bowman (Philadelphia/Imhotep HS); RT Mike Bundra (Catasaugua/Catasaugua HS); RG Tom Chantilles (York/Penn HS); QB Ben Charles (Lancaster/ Catholic HS); C Joe Chuha (Johnstown/Johnstown HS); LHB Angelo Coia (Philadelphia/North East Philadelphia HS); LT Dan Ficca (Atlas/Mt. Carmel HS); OT-OG Michael Gaytan (Malvern/Great Valley HS); QB Jim Jones (Harrisburg/Harris HS); QB Ellsworth Kissinger (York/Penn HS); LG Jim Samuel (Quakertown/Quakertown HS); DT Delvon Simmons (McKeesport/McKeesport HS); C Jack Trier (Lancaster/Catholic HS) and FB Patrick West (Burgettstown HS, U. of Pittsburgh).

And finally, here are some official "FUN FACTS" from USC's Rose Bowl Media Guide:

*** Both USC and Penn State posted a 2016 regular season victory over a team that is playing in this year’s College Football Playoff semifinals with USC beating Washington in Seattle, 26-13, and Penn State beating Ohio State at home, 24-21.

*** Once USC plays Penn State Jan. 2, the Trojans will have played in the Rose Bowl Game during the term of every U.S. President since that of Herbert Hoover in 1929.

*** Two of the three 2017 Rose Parade Grand Marshals attended USC and are among Troy’s most famous Olympians -- Allyson Felix and Janet Evans.

*** This is the 75th anniversary of the only Rose Bowl not played in Pasadena when weeks after the Pearl Harbor attack, the U.S.government banned large public gatherings on the West Coast for the duration of World War II so the 1942 Rose Bowl Game was moved to Durham, N.C., where Oregon State defeated host Duke, 20-16.

*** Former USC tailback Ricky Ervins is among the newest members of the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame (joining fellow 2016 inductees Bobby Bell, Art Spander and Tommy Prothro). They will be inducted during a Jan. 1 ceremony at the Rose Bowl, then introduced on the field during the USC-Penn State Game. Ervins ran for 126 yards on 30 carries, including a 14-yard game-winning TD with 1:10 to play, in his 1990 Rose Bowl MVP a 17-10 win over Michigan. He also caught five passes for another 44 yards in that game. He appeared in two other Rose Bowls, starting as a 1988 sophomore against Michigan and appearing as a backup against Michigan State as a 1987 true freshman. Ervins grew up three minutes away from the Rose Bowl and attended Muir High in Pasadena. As a prep senior, he spent New Year’s Day of 1987 parking cars for 11 hours at the Rose Bowl Game. Ervins is USC's 24th member of the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame.

You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at

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