They don’t call the Rose Bowl the Granddaddy of Them All for nothing, and the 2017 incarnation of the game proved to be perhaps the best ever.
USC’s Sam Darnell, who saved the Trojans’ season when he has put in the starting lineup four games into the campaign, throwing for 453 yards and five touchdowns in USC’s 52-49 win over Penn State.
The Trojans kicked a 46-yard field goal as time expired for the victory, rallying to the win despite giving up a combined seven touchdowns to the Nittany Lions in the second and third quarters.
The comeback overshadowed a brilliant 194-yard, two touchdown performance by Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.
Where does the photo finish rank among the lists of Rose Bowl greats? Let’s try and put it in perspective.
2006: Texas 41, USC 38
The go-to default greatest Rose Bowl game ever largely because it was also for the national championship and featured two of the game’s most electrifying talents: USC running back Reggie Bush and UT quarterback Vince Young. Both teams were undefeated and USC was in pursuit of a third straight national title. Young scored an eight-yard-touchdown on fourth down with 19 seconds left and the Longhorns made the two-point conversion to account for the final score. It was also the final game in the historic broadcast career of Keith Jackson.
1963: USC 42, Wisconsin 37
Both teams were undefeated and ranked No. 1 and No. 2 heading in. It looked like a Southern California rout as the Trojans took a 42-14 lead in the fourth quarter, but Wisconsin scored 23 unanswered points with three touchdowns and a safety to fall just short. Wisconsin set a still-standing Rose Bowl record with 32 first downs.
2005: Texas 38, Michigan 37
While most people remember Vince Young’s performance the next year best, he exploded onto the national spotlight on January 1, 2005, rushing for 192 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Longhorns to a comeback victory over the Wolverines. No surprise, the rushing total remains a bowl game record for a quarterback, as Young propelled the Longhorns to a last-second game-winning field goal by Dusty Mangum from 37 yards out as time expired.
1975: USC 18, Ohio State 17
The Buckeyes had been ranked No. 1 for most of the year before getting upset by Michigan State. That dropped them to No. 2 behind Alabama, with USC ranked fourth.Trojan legendary quarterback Pat Haden pulled USC within 17-16 on a late 38-yard touchdown pass. By that time news that Alabama had been upset by Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl, meaning an Ohio State win or a tie would give the Buckeyes the national championship. Instead, USC went for two – there was no overtime back then – and delivered it, giving the Trojans a one-point win. UPI pollsters jumped the Trojans up to No. 1, giving them the national title. It was the last time USC legendary coach John McKay would take the Trojans to the Rose Bowl, His son J.K. McKay caught the 38-yard touchdown at the end of the game.