PASADENA (CNS / FOX 11) - USC was selected Sunday to play in the 103rd Rose Bowl Game, where it will face Big Ten champion Penn State on Jan. 2.
With Pac-12 champion Washington finishing fourth in the final College Football Playoff rankings, and a thus taking a spot in the nationwide playoffs, the Tournament of Roses was forced to select a replacement from the conference.
While the tournament traditionally selects the next-highest ranked team from the conference, there is a clause in the contract that "if the next-highest ranked team is in a 'cluster' of teams, meaning there is another team or teams from the same conference ranked within several spots of each other, the Tournament of Roses will select the team from that cluster that will result in the best possible matchup for the Rose Bowl Game,'' Rose Bowl Management Committee Chair Scott Jenkins said before the selection was announced.
The Trojans were ninth in the final national AP rankings, which were released today, one spot ahead of Colorado. But Colorado beat USC and won the Pac-10 South Division.
Penn State was ranked fifth by AP.
The Trojans will be making their first Rose Bowl Game appearance since 2009, when they defeated the Nittany Lions, 38-24, in what was also Penn State's most recent appearance.
USC also faced the Nittany Lions in the 1923 Rose Bowl Game, the first played at the Rose Bowl Stadium. The Trojans won, 14-3, in a game that started 50 minutes late because the Penn State team was stuck in traffic.
USC will make its 33rd Rose Bowl Game appearance, the most appearance by any school. The Trojans have a 24-8 record in the Rose Bowl Game.
The Nittany Lions will make their fourth appearance in the Rose Bowl Game. They have a 1-2 record, with the lone victory in 1995 when they defeated Oregon, 38-20.
USC is 9-3, winning eight consecutive games after a 1-3 start.
Penn State is 11-2, winning nine consecutive games after a 2-2 start.
The game is being played on Jan. 2 because of Tournament of Roses' "Never on Sunday'' policy, which began with the Rose Parade, then extended to the football game.
Officials decide to move the 1893 Rose Parade to Monday, Jan. 2 to avoid frightening horses tethered outside of local churches, which would interfere with Sunday services, according to the tournament's website.
It was 1922 when the next New Year's Day fell on a Sunday, and that year's game was moved to the first Monday.
This will be the 14th time the Rose Bowl Game to be played on a Jan. 2, and first since 2012.
Additional tickets will go on sale at 8 a.m. Tuesday online at ticketmaster.com or by calling (800) 653-8000. Travel and ticket packages can be purchased online through PrimeSport.
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