Early season long-shots prep for the Rose Bowl

Written by Craig Rhodes | Dec 30, 2016 11:21 AM

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Penn State head coach James Franklin holds the trophy after Penn State won the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, in Indianapolis. Penn State won 38-31.

(Pasadena, CA) -- As preparations continue in Pasadena for next week's 103rd Rose Bowl Game, it's important to go back a few months and remember what it took for the participants to get here in the first place.

It was the end of September, just one month into a new college football season, and Penn State and USC were a combined 3 and 5, staring again at a season of mediocrity.

So how did this Rose Bowl Game come to feature two of the nation's hottest teams?

After a 2-2 start that included a 39-point loss to Michigan, the Nittany Lions somehow managed to right the ship on October 1st. They haven't lost since.

"We faced a lot of adversity.  We were 2 and 2 at one point, but we were able to overcome that and that's kind of what this year has been. We've been down and have been able to overcome adversity a lot.   To get here is special and shows the true heart of this team.  It shows how special this team is to be able to play in the Rose Bowl this year," said running Saquon Barkley.

The Trojans faced a very similar situation. They started out 1-3, lost to Alabama by 46 and were left for dead in the PAC-10.

October rolled around. Coach Clay Helton made a quarterback change, the team rallied, and eight straight wins later they're playing Penn State in "The GrandDaddy of Them All."

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