#2 2016 Penn State-USC Rose Bowl
The Nittany Lions used that Ohio State win to crack the national rankings at #24. The following week they traveled to West Lafayette and rang up 62 points on the Boilermakers. The next two weeks they hung 40 spots on both Iowa and Indiana.
Then they went on the road to shut out the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers. That win, along with some timely losses throughout the college football landscape, put Penn State in the Top Ten for the first time since the 2009 season. They closed out the regular season at home against Michigan State.
The Spartans actually had a 12-10 lead at halftime before McSorley unloaded four second-half touchdown passes and the defense shut out Michigan State for the remaining 30 minutes in a 45-12 victory to end the regular season 10-2.
After being .500 after the first four games of the season, the Nittany Lions rattled off eight consecutive wins in what was becoming a true Cinderella story.
The next chapter was written as the Buckeyes handed Michigan their second conference loss of the season, which gave Ohio State and Penn State identical Big Ten marks, with the Nittany Lions holding the tiebreaker because of their win during the season.
Their reward would be playing in their first Big Ten Championship game against the Wisconsin Badgers.
A true slugfest, Wisconsin had a 21-point lead in the second quarter, only to see McSorley hit wide receiver Saeed Blacknall for a 40-yard touchdown reception right before half, making the score 28-7.
Trying to outdo themselves, these two Lions hooked up for a 70-yard score early in the third quarter. Barkley tied it on a 1-yard TD plunge and Wisconsin kicked a 23-yard field to put them back in front 31-28.
Penn State scored the only ten points in the fourth quarter to triumph and win their first Big Ten championship since 2009.
The Nittany Lions squared off against USC in the 2017 Rose Bowl in what many consider one of the top five Rose Bowls in history.
As it seemed to be their fashion this season, Penn State spotted USC a 13-0 lead before Barkley got the Lions on the scoreboard with a 24-yard TD run in a second quarter that featured a combined 35 points by both squads.
USC went three and out to open the second half. On the first Penn State offensive play of the second half, Saquon Barkley did what Saquon Barkley does.
Unfortunately, the fairy tale end of the season was not to be, as USC ended up rallying from being down 14 points themselves and won with a field goal at the end of regulation, 52-49.
Few losses in my history as a Penn State fan sting more than this. But Barkley’s run looked like something straight out of a video game.