PASADENA, Calif. –– USC wrote another chapter in its already glittering football history Thursday with a 38-24 victory over Penn State in the 95th Rose Bowl, with quarterback Mark Sanchez being named the offensive player of the game for passing for a record-tying four touchdowns and 413 yards and running for a fifth score.
The victory before a crowd announced at 93,293 was the Trojans' third in the past three Rose Bowls and 24th in their record 33 Rose Bowl appearances. It was also their sixth victory in Bowl Championship Series Bowls in the past seven seasons.
USC left little doubt about the final outcome by scoring 24 points in the second quarter, taking a 31-7 halftime lead. The Trojans' 31 first-half points was the most in a Rose Bowl, while their 24-point halftime lead was their largest since a 26-0 advantage over Pittsburgh in the 1930 Rose Bowl.
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Penn State made the final score closer with 17 points in the fourth quarter on Daryll Clark's two-yard pass to Derrick Williams, Kevin Kelly's 25- yard field goal and Clark's nine-yard pass to Jordan Norwood. Clark scored the Nittany Lions' first touchdown on a nine-yard run in the first quarter.
A bad snap on a punt resulting in a 37-yard loss in the final minute gave Penn State the ball on USC's 14-yard line and a chance for the Nittany Lions to make the final score closer, but Cary Harris intercepted Clark's fourth-down pass on the final play of the game.
Clark completed 21 of 36 passes for 273 yards and two touchdown and had two passes intercepted.
Penn State entered the game fourth among the 119 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in points allowed per game -- 12.4 -- but was able to do little to contain Sanchez and the USC offense. The junior from Mission Viejo generally had plenty of time to throw to receivers who were frequently open, completing 28 of 35 passes for a record 80 percent completion percentage, breaking the previous record of 78.9 percent by Michigan's Chuck Ortmann in the 1951 game.
Sanchez's four touchdown passes equaled a Rose Bowl record, previously accomplished four other times, most recently by USC's John David Booty in the 2007 game. His 413 passing yards were the second-most in Rose Bowl history, behind only Oregon's Danny O'Neil, who had 456 against Penn State in the 1995 game.
A 9 1/2-point favorite, the Trojans out-gained the Nittany Lions, 474 yards to 410, and led 27-19 in first downs.
The 38 points were the second-most the Nittany Lions had allowed in their 35 bowl games under their 82-year-old legendary coach Joe Paterno, the winningest coach in major college football history. The only time Penn State had allowed more was in a 50-39 victory over Brigham Young in the 1989 Holiday Bowl.
Sanchez threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Damian Williams in the first quarter on a drive kept alive by an offsides penalty against the Nittany Lions which nullified a fumble recovery when Sanchez was sacked.
In the second quarter, Sanchez ran six yards for a touchdown and threw 19- and 20-yard touchdown passes to Ronald Johnson and C.J. Gable. David Buehler also kicked a 30-yard field goal for the Trojans in the second quarter.
Sanchez's final touchdown pass came with 12 minutes, 2 seconds to play on a 45-yard pass to Johnson, putting USC ahead 38-14.
Trojan linebacker Kaluka Maiava was named as the defensive player of the game.