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USC hits FG at gun, beats Penn State 52-49 in epic Rose Bowl

PASADENA, Calif. — After 98 combined points and 1,040 yards of spectacular offensive play, the highest-scoring Rose Bowl in history rested on the left foot of a Southern California kicker who had already missed two field goals.

Matt Boermeester somehow blocked out the cacophonous tension in the chilly air. He focused only on securing a perfect ending to an epic evening.

“Game was on the line, but you’ve got to keep true to your technique and trust it,” Boermeester said.

His technique was sound. His kick was true. And the Trojans got their storybook finish in Pasadena.

Boermeester hit a 46-yard field goal as time expired , and No. 9 USC rallied from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter for a 52-49 victory over No. 5 Penn State on Monday night in the 103rd edition of the Granddaddy of Them All.

Freshman Sam Darnold passed for 453 yards and five touchdowns while leading a stirring comeback by the Trojans (10-3), who won their ninth consecutive game and triumphed in their first Rose Bowl since 2009. USC trailed 49-35 with nine minutes to play, but persevered to win one of the greatest Rose Bowls ever played.

“It was just two really good football teams playing at the highest level and competing until the absolute, very end,” USC coach Clay Helton said. “The greatest players shined brightest on the biggest stage. It’s what fairy tales are made of.”

Deontay Burnett, who had three TD receptions, caught a tying 27-yard scoring pass from Darnold with 1:20 left to cap an 80-yard drive in 38 seconds with no timeouts available.

Leon McQuay III then intercepted an ill-advised long pass by Trace McSorley and returned it 32 yards to the Penn State 33 with 27 seconds left. In an instant, the Trojans went from preparing for overtime to having a chance to win.

“I didn’t know whether to block or celebrate” after McQuay’s interception, USC defensive lineman Stevie Tu’ikolovatu said. “I kind of did both.”

The Trojans set up Boermeester, and the junior confidently drilled the Rose Bowl winner , sprinting away as it went through the south uprights and set off pandemonium on the hallowed field.

“It’s beautiful,” McQuay said. “This is a special group of guys. Oh man, this is the time to step up. This is the time to make plays.”

McSorley passed for 254 yards and threw two of his four touchdown passes to Chris Godwin for the Nittany Lions (11-3), whose nine-game winning streak ended in heartbreaking fashion.

Saquon Barkley rushed for 194 yards and two TDs as the Nittany Lions (12-2) followed up their 21-point comeback in the Big Ten title game with another ferocious rally, only to watch the Trojans rally back.

“That game doesn’t really define us,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “I wouldn’t be any more proud tonight sitting here with a win … after what might have been the most exciting Rose Bowl game ever.”

With one jaw-dropping play after another from two talent-laden offenses, the teams obliterated the combined Rose Bowl scoring record in the third quarter, surpassing Oregon’s 45-38 victory over Wisconsin in the 2012 game.

NO. 7 OKLAHOMA 35, NO. 17 AUBURN 19

NEW ORLEANS — Baker Mayfield passed for 296 yards and two touchdowns, including one scoring pass to fellow Heisman Trophy finalist Dede Westbrook, and seventh-ranked Oklahoma ended its season on a 10-game winning streak by winning the Sugar Bowl.

Sooners running back Joe Mixon heard repeated boos from Auburn fans who also shouted derisive comments regarding a recently publicized video of Mixon punching a woman in the face in 2014. Mixon, who has apologized for the assault, also drew cheers from crimson-clad Oklahoma fans with his play. His two short touchdown runs were among the highlights of a performance in which he gained 180 yards from scrimmage — 91 rushing on 19 carries and 89 receiving on five catches.

Auburn (8-5), which wound up in the Sugar Bowl despite dropping its last two Southeastern Conference games to Georgia and Alabama, entered the game hopeful that it would be buoyed by the return of quarterback Sean White, who’d missed the Tigers’ final two games with a throwing shoulder injury. White led Auburn to a touchdown on its first series — Chandler Cox’s 3-yard run on fourth down — but the quarterback left the game for good in the first half with a right arm injury.

NO. 8 WISCONSIN 24,

NO. 12 WESTERN MICHIGAN 16

ARLINGTON, Texas — Wisconsin tight end Troy Fumagalli made a leaping 8-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter and the Badgers won the Cotton Bowl to deny Western Michigan an undefeated season.

The TD catch by Fumagalli with 14 minutes left, in the back of the end zone between two defenders, came three plays after a rare interception thrown by Zach Terrell and made it 24-10.

With their “Row The Boat” mentality inspired by young head coach P.J. Fleck, the Broncos (13-1) made it from one win during his first season in Kalamazoo three years ago to the last FBS team other than No. 1 Alabama this season with a chance to be undefeated.

NO. 20 FLORIDA 30, NO. 21 IOWA 3

TAMPA, Fla. — Austin Appleby threw for 222 yards and two touchdowns, helping No. 20 Florida end a two-game losing streak with a rout in the Outback Bowl.

 

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