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2009 Rose Bowl Stream-of-Conciousness Notes
USC QB Mark Sanchez
USC QB Mark Sanchez
Posted Jan 1, 2009

Another year, another USC blowout in the Rose Bowl. Mark Sanchez and the Trojans were laughing their way to the 38-24 win over Penn State. Pete Fiutak gives the quarter-by-quarter, play-by-play look at the 2009 Rose Bowl - USC vs. Penn State.

Fiu's Stream of Consciousness Notes

2009 Rose Bowl - USC vs. Penn State

By Pete Fiutak
Welcome again to my pretentious, goofy and self-serving stream-of-consciousness thoughts and notes on the big games, the broadcasts, the ads and the teams for the attention deficit disordered. E-mail me with your own thoughts and notes and what you'd like to see. 


- Aw great. The pregame show's opening moments sucked. John Saunders: "The one thing we know for sure to start the season is that we'll have a traditional Big Ten - Pac 10 matchup, and it's going to be great." First of all, no, we don't know that. The last two years haven't had a "traditional" matchup, since the Big 10 champs were off playing in the national title game. Second, there's no guarantee that the Rose Bowl doesn't take a team from another conference if the Pac 10 or Big 10 play for the national title. Third, this game usually sucks. The Big 10 has been rocked by USC and there's no guarantee that this game will be any good. C'mon, John. This was your first statement and you're that loose?

- Did anyone else see the filler-time Todd Blackledge plus-one proposal at the end of the Capital One Bowl? Five BCS games, 10 teams, take the top two according to a BCS system after that. Todd, spend more time on your theories than thinking about what omelet to eat next. According this bizarre idea, let’s say USC blows out Penn State, Oklahoma wins its bowl in a blowout, and Florida wins its game in a blowout. Now what? Ten teams and a plus one?! To paraphrase Napoleon Dynamite, this is pretty much the worst playoff idea I’ve ever heard.

- Nice going NHL. Detroit beat Chicago 6-4 in Wrigley. Did anyone know this game was on? Everyone would’ve watched this on Christmas Day. It would be the sporting event of the day, but who watched this that normally wouldn’t have been watching a NHL game anyway?

- Another Saunders misfire: “And it’s a final. Nebraska wins the Gator Bowl, 26 to 21.” Dewey defeats Truman? There’s still four minutes to play and Clemson is marching in a terrific game. You know some producer was in Saunders’ ear screaming “they’re going to change the channel … nooooooooo.”

- Pete Carroll: “Those who think we don’t want to be (in the Rose Bowl) and don’t want to be there don’t understand.” They’re called your fans, Pete. Explain it to them and the rest of us why you’d be the slightest bit pleased, with this team you’ve put together, to not be in the national championship. You’re happy with being in Pasadena over Miami? No you’re not. No … you’re not.

- Kirk, Todd, and all the other announcers … quit apologizing for the BCS sucking. You can still have the Big Ten – Pac 10 Rose Bowl and have a playoff.

First Quarter

Penn State
on its own 26
- Derrick Williams needs to come up with a big return at some point in the game. USC isn’t going to give him much of a shot to break one.
- That’s a statement on the first play. Penn State is going to want to pound the ball with its offensive line, and on the opening snap, it goes wide on a pitch to Williams for three yards. That’s Penn State saying “we’re not afraid of your speed.”
- Daryll Clark has to be better than that when he gets time. His O line gave him all day, he locked on to one receiver, and he threw it into the stands.
- Pass attempt two: Clark had time, he thought he didn’t, danced in the pocket, and forced a throw that should’ve been picked off. Three and out and Penn State didn’t try to pound the ball once.

USC on its own 27
- Everyone’s gushing over the USC speed and defense, but Navarro Bowman and this Penn State defense is every bit as good. USC has to do something on this first drive to show that its offense isn’t just along for the ride like it’s been all season.
- USC goes wide on its first two plays. Neither team goes with the power game on the opening drive, but so far, the Penn State D line has been stronger.
Penn State on its own 12
- And there’s the Penn State offense. Shove USC DT Fili Moala out of the way, use the power to create the crease, and get Evan Royster moving.
- USC is challenging Clark by bringing everyone up. Fine, Penn State, you want to power the ball, you’re going to have to bust through a second level that doesn’t believe you can throw.
- 4th and 1 from the 38 … Not even a thought about going for it.

USC on its own 13
- And USC follows suit with the power game. C.J. Gable rumbles for a decent gain. He has to show he can hang on to the ball, and Penn State will be going after it whenever he has the ball.
- Penn State looks fast. They’re swarming all over the USC offense on wide plays.
- NICE block from tight end Rhett Ellison to come up with the block for the first down.
- The Trojans aren’t letting Mark Sanchez make any tough throws early on. USC is keeping it close to the vest. It’s like they’re trying to prove a point with the running game.
- And it’s working. Another USC first down on the ground.
- Whooooooo. Again, Penn State is really, really fast. Aaron Maybin blew past Charles Brown for a sack of Sanchez and forced a fumble, but got nailed for lining up offsides. That’s not why he got to Sanchez, but it cost Penn State the ball.
- Sanchez came out throwing on the next play and got rid of the ball in a big hurry even though he didn’t have to.
- USC is having success up the middle. The holes aren’t opening up wide, but the yards are there in mini-chunks.
- Five minutes left in the first quarter and Penn State isn’t getting blown out. And there was much rejoicing.
- Patrick Turner isn’t going to do anything deep on this Nittany Lion secondary. He’s not good enough.
- Sanchez connects on a nice dart on a quick three step drop then fire. USC needs to speed up the game a little bit. There’s no tempo to the offense.
- Very, very nice run by Stafon Johnson for a first down. He bounced the ball to the outside well, let the offensive line collapse the Penn State left side, and got a 15-yard run.
- Sanchez throws a strike to Damian Williams for a touchdown. Uh oh. Five minutes left in the quarter and Penn State fine. 4:12 left and USC is up. That was too easy against a Penn State secondary that didn’t give up a thing all year long. The Nittany Lions had better answer on this drive or this could be the typical USC-Big Ten game in a hurry.

USC 7 … Penn State 0

Penn State on its own 20
- Clark has to get involved in a hurry. He has to show that he can complete a few throws and he has to get his tremendous receiving corps involved.
- Third and two on a drive without a running play.
- No, no, no. The option worked for the first down, but USC will destroy the PSU attack if the plays keep going to the outside.
- Where are the great USC linebackers? Rey Maualuga hasn’t been a part of the show yet.
- Both teams are starting to mix it up a bit. Clark made a great throw with Taylor Mays about to deliver the boom. Williams makes a better play taking the pas for the first down.
- Deon Butler makes a tremendous catch and a better run, but Penn State will get flagged for holding …
- … yup. That’s the second huge play of the game against the Nittany Lions on a dumb, dumb penalty. Lining up offsides on Maybin was the first, and Butler got nailed for an illegal shift. It might be 14-0 Penn State right now without those two plays.
- USC might end up winning this game, but it’s an important to keep making to try to eliminate the stereotypes: Penn State is every bit as fast as USC.
- Clark is getting ten days to throw. He’s not looking off his receivers like Sanchez did on the USC scoring drive, but he stepped up in the pocket and delivered a perfect pass to make it first and goal.
- The Penn State coaches just came up with a drive for the ages. Clark obviously made it all happen, finishing it off with a nine-yard quarterback draw for a score, but in one big drive, the Nittany Lions took the ball and on this supposedly impenetrable USC D and it 1) ran with power, 2) made plays with speed, and 3) might have stripped away the thoughts of invincibility. Then again, there are four seconds left in the first quarter. It’s not like USC is going to panic.
- PSU LG Rich Ohrnberger was amazing on that drive.

Penn State 7 … USC 7

USC on its own 20
End of the first quarter …

First Quarter Score: Penn State 7 … USC 7

Second Quarter

- USC isn’t afraid to push the ball deep. It has now become obvious that Sanchez has found his groove and is going to trust his receivers.
- Great play by Sanchez. Everything was falling down around him and he still made a big throw to tight end Anthony McCoy.
- Penn State is getting the pressure on Sanchez, but Sanchez is still making the plays.
- Joe McKnight is out with what seems to be a turf toe problem.
- Third down …
- … anything you can do … Sanchez looks Clark-like in a QB draw for a score.
- Those were two very, very easy scoring drives.

USC 14 … Penn State 7

Penn State on its own 20
- Evan Royster is being looked at on the sidelines. Apparently he has a knee sprain, but he’s expected to be back and very, very limited.
- It’s the Stephfon Green show now. That might not be a bad thing; he’s very Jacquizz Rodgers-like.
- There’s the USC D. Kyle Moore holds off Ohrnberger and knocks down Green on third and one. USC forces a three and out, but Penn State got a huge break on Stefon Johnson falling down on punt return.

USC on its own 13
- Keep Sanchez chucking. After the last two drives, he has to keep pushing it deep.
- How many head coaches have USC had since Joe Paterno been the head coach at Penn State? I’ll guess six, but that’s a total guess.
- Penn State makes its third moronic penalty of the game. Anthony Scirrotto makes a late hit out of bounds and now USC is out of trouble.
- Penn State needs to do something positive on D. It’s been almost a full quarter since the defense came up with a stop on any play.
- First USC drive: Nine yards. 161 yards and 2 touchdowns on the next two.
- Someone on the Penn State D line has to touch Sanchez.
- Damien Williams took away Lydell Sargent’s jock on a deep route for a 35-yard catch. That was an NFL throw from Sanchez.
- Joe McKnight is out for the game.
- The field must be having problems. It seems like everyone is slipping.
- The big USC receivers are starting to give the short Penn State corners problems.
- 7:30 to play in the first half Penn State holds USC to a field goal.
- David Buehler hits the 30-yarder.

USC 17 … Penn State 7

- Remember, that drive started at the 13.
- Six. That’s the answer to the AFLAC trivia question.

Penn State on its own 7
- Another Penn State penalty. A block in the back puts the Nittany Lions into a hole it needs to blast its way out of.
- Big help for PSU. USC’s Cary Harris holds Deon Butler and now PSU is on its 17.
- With Royster out, Penn State appears to be afraid to run up the gut. This is 100% Clark at the moment.
- Third and short. This might be the ball game. If USC stuffs this 3rd and 2 and gets the ball back, it’ll score by the end of the first half and this won’t be pretty.
- Clark didn’t feel the pocket and he didn’t sense Brian Cushing slipping by Ohrnberger for the sack.

USC on its own 33
- USC is so good at capitalizing on positive momentum. This is when the offense could put in the dagger.
- A 24-7 USC lead would mean it’s time for a nap.
- The USC offensive front isn’t dominating, but it’s playing the Penn State defensive front to a draw. Penn State needs to come up with a big play, a turnover, a sack, something to change the momentum.
- Penn State is really fast, but USC’s timing is perfect. Perfect.
- ANOTHER Penn State penalty. That’s five so far in the first half.
- Navarro Bowman worked his way to a huge sack. Sanchez appeared to be too comfortable, and Penn State has to change that with one more sack to force more hurries.
 - The Penn State corners are having a miserable first half. They have yet to show up.
- 1:49 to play. Penn State is better than this, but USC makes everyone look bad.
- Patrick Turner had the ball in his hands and he should’ve come up with the big catch, but he got it knocked away.
- Penn State got the pressure on the blitz, but Sanchez never took his eyes off the play, hit Williams on the move, and the Penn State secondary got pantsed once again.
- Sanchez doesn’t get touched, steps into his throw, and he throws yet another perfect touchdown pass against a pass defense that gave up six scores on the year. Anthony Scirrotto is too experienced to not be reading things better. Ronald Johnson made the grab, and now it’s over.
- Well, this was fun. Thanks for playing, Penn State.
USC 24 … Penn State 7

Penn State on its own 20
- This is the time when USC usually drops the hammer. This is when the opposing team presses, makes a mistake, and USC’s D makes the big play to screw things …
- As I type that, Stephfon Green tore off a huge, huge play, only to blow it by fumbling it away. Cary Harris just punched it out. It wasn’t even anything special.

USC on its own 40
- 1:12 to play.
- Kirk and Brent are puffing up the Pac 10 conference after going 4-0 in bowls so far before this one. There’s a reason everyone dogged the league; it got rocked by the Mountain West.
- What’s the time of possession? Penn State hasn’t seen the ball at all this second quarter.
- :55 to play. Penn State has to find something defensively that works for just one big play. It’s 3rd and 1.
- Kirk and Brent are in blowout mode.
- First down. USC is about 25 yards away from field goal range.
- And there it is. ANOTHER bad play from the Penn State corners, giving Williams too much room, then comes the face mask, and it’s going to be 31-7 at halftime.
- :43 and USC is on the 20.
- Nothing’s working for Penn State. They brought the blitz, USC’s coaches were 19 steps ahead of the Penn State coaches, Sanchez drops the ball off for Gable, and it’s 31-7.
- Anyone have that Detroit – Chicago hockey game on DVR anywhere?

Penn State on its own 16
- Take a knee. Get out as is because you’re not going to get points on this drive.
- Oooooooh. It was just out of the reach for a pick six.
- No. Stop it, Brent. If the AP chooses USC the national champion, it doesn’t matter. IT … DOESN’T …MATTER. If you’re not winning a game in Miami on January 8th, you’re not the national champion.
- Seven penalties on Penn State. Eight seconds to go … TAKE A KNEE. Get out.
- Well, that sucked. Thanks, Penn State.

Halftime Score: USC 31 … Penn State 7

Third Quarter Score

USC on its own 20
Step one here for Penn State to make this interesting; come up with a three and out. Step two, take chances on being beaten deep. This zone D isn’t working; there can’t be so much of a cushion allowed.
- USC comes out winging, keeping it short.
- Third and one and Penn State brings up the corners, but USC gets the first down up the middle.
- Kirk is wrong on this: Sanchez hasn’t had time. He’s had a little time, but he’s been getting hit, for the most part.
- Paterno didn’t get down to the locker room but he did send a message: Play Penn State football. Ooooooh. Now that’s coaching. Like the team perked up and collectively said, “yeah, that’s right,” and now the team will start playing well.
- Sanchez is a late second round draft pick.
- Finally, there’s a play. The Penn State coaches finally guess right and Josh Hull made a big stop to make it third and 15.
- Sanchez makes the play on the roll out, Penn State gives too much of a cushion, and it’s close. Really close.
- Fourth and one on the Penn State side of the field. Of course you go for it if you’re Carroll.
- Yup, I love Pete Carroll.
- Of course it’s a first down. Of course.
- And Penn State finally comes up with a big play. Gable fumbles, and Penn State gets its big break to finally slow down the USC attack.
- Thanks for playing, Gable. You’ve GOT to hang on to the ball.

Penn State on its own 43
- Penn State has to go into two-minute mode. It can’t stick with the run-and-power game. Clark has to start winging it and he has to start showing why he was such a top playmaker in the Big Ten.
- Clark is getting a ton of time to throw, but the receivers aren’t getting open.
- Is Rey Maualuga in the game?
- Taylor Mays blasts Clark. He’s talking about coming back, but he’s a top 15 pick.
- It’s four-down territory on the USC 41. Penn State has to go exclusively to the passing game.
- And there’s Maualuga. He matches Green step-for-step and makes the stop.
- Clark gets time, makes a move, and completes the pass … short of the first down. Penn State turns it over. And the pain and suffering for all who are watching continues.

USC on its own 42
- Oh gee, and here we go. Brent and Kirk are talking about a Plus One and whining about why USC should be playing someone else for a national title. Two words: Oregon State.
- The Penn State safeties have gone bye-bye. Anthony Scirrotto is having a miserable game.
- At least this clunker is going by quickly. Four minutes to go in the third.
- Bowman is the one Penn State player who has shown up.
- If the Plus One moaning is part one of the Rose Bowl blowout banter, then part two is the blasting of the Big Ten. Look, people, around 112 other teams would be getting obliterated by USC in Pasadena on New Year’s Day.

Penn State on its own 20
- Penn …. State … is … going … two … miles … per … hour … deliberately … going … to … the … huddle … and … not … showing … any … sense … of … urgency.
- If Penn State was offered the option of the final score being 31-7 in exchange for two tickets to see Valkyrie, it seems like half this team would go see the flick.
- Ohhhhhh. There’s a penalty flag thrown on the play on Taylor Mays for a helmet-to-helmet hit. College football needs to institute a rule that players who come up with a hit like that should get tossed. Those are the kinds of plays that end careers.
- Penn State is marching, but it didn’t do anything in the lightning fast quarter to get back in the game.

Third Quarter Score: USC 31 … Penn State 7

Fourth Quarter Score

- Clark rumbles down near the goal line, gets popped, and fumbles. It gets reversed.
- Penn State finally gets back on the board with Clark finding Williams for a touchdown. That was a great drive showing tremendous pride, but it took way too long.
- Alright, I’ll be the one to kickoff this typical blowout rant. Penn State gets a quick stop, finds a way to score, there’s eight minutes left in a ten point game. I’m just rooting for an interesting game.

USC 31 … Penn State 14

USC on its own 20
- Now is when USC is USC. This is when it the team answers with the drive to end any thoughts of a comeback.
- Penn State, if you really deserve to be in the Rose Bowl, this is when you come up with a stop.
- Give the Penn State coaches credit for being stubborn. They’re not adjusting at all with the coverage. Sanchez is drooling out there when he sees how wide open everything is.
- Ronald Johnson is wide open … 45 yard touchdown.
- Scirrotto gets blown past after biting on a short play. It’s not all his fault, of course, but he’ll want to quickly forget this game.
- I don’t believe it. Keyshawn Johnson, possibly the worst color analyst this side of Mike Ditka, and the ultimate USC homer, doesn’t fall for the Brent softball of wanting to see USC play the Oklahoma – Florida winner. Johnson remarks that Oregon State is why USC isn’t playing for the national title.
- What the fu……? That’s G?
USC 38 … Penn State 14

Penn State on its own 15
- And to think, Penn State was a last second field goal against Iowa away of playing for the national title.
- Third and eight and Clark is starting to find his targets a little bit better.
- Penn State hasn’t been able to go with its strength, the running game, at all.
- Clark is making plays on the move. The receivers aren’t open, but they’re not playing all that poorly and they’re starting to come up with grabs.
- Penn State is marching, and it’s not because USC is letting up.
- Oooooh. Stephfon Green busts through the middle, Cary Harris tries to make a bit his, and takes the worst of it.
- Clark had a man wide open and overshot him. He’ll never have a receiver that open ever again.
- Penn State has to take three more shots into the end zone. A field goal doesn’t matter, pride or no, at this point.
- Why? Penn State gets stopped by Maualuga and now it’s fourth and short. Why possible good does a field goal do? Ooooh, it’s 38-17. That matters for pride. Ooooh.

USC 38 … Penn State 17

USC on its own 21
- Two stopped plays and it’s 3rd and 16. USC runs it with just over six minutes to play. Penn State gets its stop, and now, it’s vital to chuck it and hope for something interesting to happen. Penn State has to try to prolong the game.

Penn State on its own 45
- They’re moving the ball. Clark and the passing game aren’t bad, and again, USC is trying.
- Penn State is letting 30 seconds roll off the clock on every play. If this is really about pride, you go for the quick touchdown and the onside kick.
- Jordan Norwood is back from the big hit by Mays and he gets Penn State close.
- Yes, this does matter. 38-24 and then USC’s defense can’t be called the greatest of all-time.
- Stephfon Green is now hurt.
- Five minutes to play.
- Brent and Kirk are so into the USC lovefest that they’re blowing off the storylines that are happening. Penn State might get this thing to two touchdowns. They’re battling.
- Touchdown Penn State. Jordan Norwood makes the grab, and now it’s 38-24 with 4:24 to play. With the way the Penn State passing game is clicking, with a successful onside kick, this could get fun. I’m reaching here in search of something interesting, but Brent and Kirk are too busy doing other things.

USC 38 … Penn State 24

USC on its own 20
- WHAT?!??!!!?!  How can you say you’re trying to play for pride, get within two touchdowns, and then kick it deep? Penn State might be hoping for a quick three and out, but if you’re trying to win the game with 4:24 to play, you go for the onside kick.
- To me, Penn State has either quit, or the coaches just made a tremendous tactical error.
- Third and three. Penn State has to come up with the stop here, or this just didn’t work.

Penn State on its own 37
- And there goes that. The receiver slips, Clark gets hit as he throws, and USC picks it off to end the fun. This was about to be interesting, but Clay Matthews, who might be the defensive MVP of this game, all but ended the fun.

USC on its own 45
- No, Kirk, you can’t have it both ways. He said USC kept trying, but it took its foot off the gas in the second half. Not on defense it didn’t.
- Fourth and four and USC is punting with under a minute to play. Penn State should send everyone including Paterno’s bad hip to come up with the block.
- Bad snap on the punt, USC has the ball on the 13.
- Could Penn State make the final score 38-31? USC is having a nightmare of a time closing.

Penn State on the USC 13
- This could be Christmas time for those on the Penn State side of the ledger …
- And Brent alludes to it. Penn State scores and covers, and this would be the miracle of all sports betting miracles.
- I know betting isn’t supposed to be a part of this, but there’s almost nothing better than being in a Vegas sportsbook at this exact moment.
- Clark stops the clock with seven seconds to play.
- USC defense … here’s your final test and your final statement.
- Clark ends the game with a bizarre play, throwing it into the end zone to no one in particular. Picked off. USC holds.
- Yuck … last year it should’ve been Georgia vs. USC. This year, can we see what Texas and USC are doing a week from now?

Final Score: USC 38 … Penn State 24