It would be 14 long years before Penn State would make a return trip to Pasadena. The 2008 season saw PSU finish 11-1, ranked #8 in the BCS polls. Their foe awaiting them was the University of Southern California, 11-1 themselves, coached by Pete Carroll and ranked #5.
USC took an early lead on a TD pass from Mark Sanchez. PSU answered with a 9-yard TD run from their own QB, Darryl Clark. That was as close as it would ever get, as USC scored 24 points in the second quarter and never looked back, cruising to a 38-24 victory.
Turnovers and USC’s passing attack told the tale of the tape. Penn State’s ground game actually outgained the Southern Cal 137 yards to 61 yards. What makes that stat more impressive is USC only averaged 1.7 yards per carry, compared to 4.7 by PSU. But 4 Penn State turnovers and USC gaining 410 yards and 4 TDs in the air offset any edge PSU might have had elsewhere.