The #5 Nittany Lions are the underdogs against the #9 Trojans, despite the championship and overall record.
#5 Penn State (11-2, 9-1 Big Ten East; Big Ten Champion) vs #9 Southern Cal (9-3, 7-2 Pac 12 South; Division Runner-Up)
5:00 p.m. ET, January 2, 2017--ESPN
Rose Bowl Stadium (Capacity: 92,542 / Pasadena, CA)
The Redzone TD% and Redzone TD% Defense are calculated by me and not ranked by the NCAA. Determining who has the advantage in these categories is strictly my arbitrary judgment.
Once again, I expected there to be more red - especially with how the media narrative is that Penn State will get destroyed (sound familiar?).
My thoughts on the actual numbers, though? That the categories that USC seems to have a strong advantage in (3rd down conversions, time of possession, first downs while the Nittany Lions are on offense) have more to do with the style of offense that Joe Moorhead runs than any deficiency in PSU's game. For example, every team they've played has had a TOP advantage - some significantly (like Wisconsin, who was first in the nation in time of possession prior to the Big Ten Championship). But that conventional wisdom simply doesn't work with this offense.
And I'd expect the passing stats to be even more of a tick in Penn State's favor - giving Moorhead a month to gameplan means new and exciting play installations, and likely the pass opening up the run of Saquon Barkley.
What do you all think?