LOS ANGELES (AP) -The Granddaddy of 'em All hasn't been kind to the Big Ten.
The Big Ten hasn't fared too well in recent years in other big bowl games, either.
And No. 5 Southern California (11-1) and its stingy defense are definitive favorites heading into the Rose Bowl in a virtual home game for the Trojans.
All of which gives this year's Big Ten rep to the Rose Bowl, No. 6 Penn State, some extra motivation as they prepare for Thursday's glitzy matchup.
``Everyone outside the state of Pennsylvania doesn't think we have a chance,'' Nittany Lions quarterback Daryll Clark said Monday. ``That's another thing to put in the back of your mind when you go into this football game. We've been playing as underdogs and I feel we can handle it one more time.''
goal in early November.
A win over the Trojans would give a tremendous boost to the team's already solid resume, as well as the Big Ten's shaky bowl reputation.
So far, the conference isn't off to a good start this bowl season. Wisconsin was blown out by Florida State 42-13 at the Champs Sports Bowl.
Ohio State's struggles in the last two BCS title games, both blowout losses, have been well-documented. Last season at the Rose Bowl, the Trojans overwhelmed Illinois, 49-17, pushing USC to 3-0 by a combined 109-49 against the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl under coach Pete Carroll.
At the very least, a win for Penn State would end a five-game losing streak for the conference at the Rose Bowl dating back to the 2000 game, when Wisconsin beat Stanford, 17-9.
Clark said there's no extra weight on Penn State to improve the Big Ten's reputation.
``I feel that if you add any unnecessary pressure, that's when nerves get involved and you play out of your element. So we really haven't been thinking about that,'' Clark said. ``It's just another football game for us, for Penn State.''
If anything, USC could be bored with playing at yet at another Rose Bowl. This makes it four straight postseason games in Pasadena for the Trojans.
otivated bunch.
Defensive tackle Fili Moala said while it would have been nice to end the season at another destination, ``we appreciate the fact that we're here right now, with the opportunity to play in this game, playing a very capable team.''
Penn State's spread HD offense, which scores more than 40 points a game, figures to face its toughest challenge yet with a USC defense that allows 7.8 points per game, tops in the nation.
Penn State Receiver Deon Butler has heard all week long about how physical the Trojans can be on defense, especially with All-Americans such as safety Taylor Mays and linebacker Ray Maualaga.
Given the Nittany Lions' own success and one-loss season, Butler said he doesn't feel like Penn State is an underdog.
``But the media has definitely put us an underdog,'' Butler said, ``so we have no choice but to take that role, but we don't mind.''
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