College football: one of America’s greatest treasures. Similar to professional football, fans from all around the country come together every saturday to support their hometown team or the team where they spent four years of their life at. What separates college football, however, is its rich history and traditions. The tomahawk chop at Florida State, touching Howard’s Rock before every Clemson home game, and throwing toilet paper on the trees at Toomer’s Corner in Auburn all exemplify the rich history of college football.
Two programs with some of the richest histories are the University of Southern California, USC, and Pennsylvania State, Penn state. We tend to think of these teams as the blue bloods of college football, the teams our grandparents would root for back in the day. This, however, is all about to change because these two programs full of pride, and some scandal, are finally back on the national stage. For the first time in years you can say the words Penn State or USC and national championship contender. Both programs have had their dark days. For Penn State it is the Jerry Sandusky case that not only shocked the nation, but it tore down the Nittany Lions program that had been so prominent for years. For USC it was Reggie Bush accepting gifts while he was still a player. Both programs were stripped of wins, scholarships, and most importantly their pride. These programs that had raucous fan bases and school pride built around the football team were being torn apart. The coaching carousel was in full affect at both programs as nobody was willing to take the job in these now shameful programs or those who were brave enough to take the job couldn’t produce the results that these schools were so used to. With Clay Helton and James Franklin at the helm, the two schools have tough minded coaches who have handled adversity and are now ready to rise to prominence.
Coaches are great but what makes these two teams special is the talent they have. In Sam Darnold and Saquon Barkley, these are two of the nation’s top players and two heisman candidates. Darnold is the redshirt sophomore quarterback who is expected to be the first pick in next year’s NFL draft. As a freshman Darnold threw for 3086 yards and 31 touchdowns, while leading the Trojans to a Rose Bowl victory over the Nittany Lions. Barkley is the Nittany Lions star running back who as a junior season ran for 1496 yards and 18 touchdowns. In his junior season, Barkley is one of the top candidates for heisman and looking to lead the Nittany Lions to the playoffs.
These two programs met last year in the biggest non-playoff bowl game: the Rose Bowl. After surprising the nation and getting to the Rose Bowl, these two programs are looking for more this year. It isn’t about surprising people anymore, it’s about proving that the Trojans and Lions are back and better than ever. USC is ranked fourth in the nation while Penn State is ranked sixth and the nation couldn’t be happier. These two programs that had taken a back seat to the rise of Alabama and the SEC are finally ready to take back the throne. The Blue Bloods are back and better than ever, hungry for their first taste at the college football playoff. The season is young, but for the Trojans and Nittany Lions, it is a chance to show that the big boys are back.