One word for the Rose Bowl experience: Ouch

On January 1st 2009, the Granddaddy of Them All made Nittany Lion Nation its red-headed stepchild.

During the first half - which saw the Trojans put up 31 points, it seemed that all that my fears had come true.

I feared that USC might kick the crap out of Penn State.

I feared that USC's oversized receivers might rip Lydell Sergeant, AJ Wallace and Anthony Scirotto apart.

I feared that USC's defense would be far too good for Penn State's offense.

With the half-time score of USC 31, Penn State 7 in the Rose Bowl - I was right.

Truth be told, though, it wasn't all about USC. Penn State could shoulder a lot of the blame - particularly in THAT second quarter - when the Trojans put up 24 unanswered points after being held 7-7 in the first quarter.

Here are just some of the mistakes:

Early on in the first quarter, Aaron Maybin forced USC quarterback Mark Sanchez to fumble. It was brought back for offside - on Maybin.

Darryl Clark had a 49 yard completion - and it was pulled back for illegal movement by the receiver, Deon Butler. Clark's night was capped right at the end by a desperation pass with a second on the clock that flew into the end-zone and was intercepted.

Far too many penalties? Check. Derrick Williams not a factor? Check. Darryl Clark not moving out of the pocket? Check. USC's defense getting through and Penn State looking desperately undersized? Check.

Oh, and things were made a lot worse by Evan Royster spraining his knee, leaving everything up to Stephfron Green.

At the end of the second quarter, Green looked as though he might take the ball to the house - and then fumbled it.

But Penn State never gave up - unlike two other Big Ten teams who played USC in 2008.

And in fact, the second half was all about Penn State football. The defense stepped up. The hits continued to come, and so did a turnover from CJ Gable.

On the other side of the ball, the 'Darryl Clark roll left' move caused problems for USC, and Derrick Williams and Jordan Norwood both caught touchdowns. Too little, too late? Maybe. But at least Penn State didn't lie down and die.

Speaking of Norwood - did anyone see Taylor Mays' hit on him? It still makes me quiver. Personally, I think that Mays should have been ejected for the challenge.

Anyway, the season's over. USC won 38 - 24, and the adoration of a nation is theirs once again. This team SHOULD be in the National Championship Game. They're better than either Florida or Oklahoma.

P.S. Thanks for a great season, Nittany Lions.