Don’t let anyone tell you the Rose Bowl wasn’t the best bowl game of the 2016 season.
USC (10-3) scored twice in the final 90 seconds to win the Rose Bowl 52-49 after trailing 49-35 heading into the fourth quarter. The winning score came courtesy of a Matt Boermeester field goal as time expired. He had missed two field goals earlier in the game, but drilled the 46-yard game-winner down the middle.
His kick was set up by a Leon McQuay interception with 27 seconds left. After USC quarterback Sam Darnold found wide receiver Deontay Burnett for the game-tying touchdown with 1:20 left, Penn State (11-3) attempted to drive for the game-winning score. But quarterback Trace McSorley’s final pass of the game was intercepted.
Penn State trailed 27-21 at halftime and scored 21 straight points in the first 4:34 of the third quarter to take a 42-27 lead.
USC didn’t disappear, however. The Trojans got within 49-42 with 12:36 left in the fourth thanks to a 10-play, 83-yard drive that ended with a Ronald Jones touchdown run. Jones, who normally wears No. 25, wore No. 4 during the Rose Bowl in honor of former USC running back Joe McKnight who was killed in a road rage incident in New Orleans in early December.
And then the game-tying score came in just 30 seconds after the Trojans forced Penn State to punt with 1:50 left. Darnold, a freshman who took over as USC’s starter following a 1-2 start, had 453 yards passing and five touchdowns, the most prolific passing performance for a USC quarterback in Rose Bowl history.
The combined 101 points are the most points ever scored in the Rose Bowl too, smashing the previous record of 83 set in the 2012 Rose Bowl when Oregon beat Wisconsin 43-38.
McSorley had a very good game, but it was sandwiched by a poor start and a poor ending. He finished 18-of-29 passing for 254 yards and four touchdowns. But he had three interceptions. In addition to the game-ending pick, he threw interceptions on his first two passes of the game, allowing USC to take a 10-0 lead early in the first quarter.
Burnett had 13 catches for 164 yards while Penn State wide receiver Chris Godwin had nine catches for 187 yards and two scores, including an incredible 72-yard juggling touchdown catch in the midst of Penn State’s third-quarter flurry. The outburst started with a 79-yard touchdown run by running back Saquon Barkley, who finished with 194 yards on 25 carries.
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