College football: Who will take home the Rose Bowl title this season?
Pasadena, California - The granddaddy of college football bowl games AKA the Rose Bowl is set with a traditional Big Ten vs. Pac-12 matchup with Penn State suiting up to take on back-to-back Pac-12 champions, Utah.
For the second-straight year, Utah has proven to be the best team in the Pac-12 and clinched a berth to the most prestigious New Year's Six bowl game.
Returning from their high-powered Rose Bowl matchup against Ohio State last year that ended in a disappointing 48-45 loss, the Utes are coming back with a vengeance.
Quarterback Cameron Rising will come into the game with plenty of confidence after taking down USC twice this season, including last weekend for the Pac-12 championship. The QB posted a stellar performance of 300+ yards passing and three touchdowns.
In last weekend's outing, Jackson posted 105 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Ready for a bigger stage, the Rose Bowl will be the perfect game to test his young abilities.
Utah and Penn State's showdown at the Rose Bowl will be the first time that the two programs meet on the field, and like Ohio State last season, the Nittany Lions may be a big threat.
With their last win in 1995 and their latest Rose appearance in 2017, the Nittany Lions just might be the wolf in sheep's clothing who can shake the table and shock the college football world with their hunger for the Rose Bowl title.
Penn State's young talent may sneak their way to a Rose Bowl win
The Tournament of Roses marks just the fifth Rose Bowl appearance for the Nittany Lions, and the team is bloody thirsty to end its 26-year-long winning drought.
The Nittany Lions had a strong 10-2 season this year, and their only losses were to the two Big Ten teams playing in the College Football Playoff: Michigan and Ohio State.
Led by sixth-year senior quarterback Sean Clifford, the four-year starter is the school's all-time leader in passing yards (10,382) and passing touchdowns (84).
Without top cornerback Joey Porter Jr., who will skip the showdown to prepare for the NFL Draft, Clifford will rely on the talented pair of true freshmen, Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen, who have been nothing short of outstanding this season.
The two rushers have combined for 1,771 rushing yards – with 49 runs of 10 yards or longer – and 19 massive touchdowns.
If the Nittany Lions can establish a good running game early, they will be able to take the pressure off of Clifford and weaken Utah's defense. The Utes are known for getting after the quarterback, as they're tied for eighth nationally with 38 sacks. Huge!
The Rose Bowl showdown will take place on January 2 at the Rose Bowl Stadium, with kickoff set for 5 PM EST.
Cover photo: DAVID BECKER / SCOTT TAETSCH / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP