By the evening of Sept. 24, USC and Penn State had completed a month of football with seasons nose-diving toward oblivion. Penn State had just lost by 39 points to a division rival. A day earlier, the Trojans had dropped their second Pac-12 Conference game in two tries.
Neither team had a winning record. Neither team was ranked. Neither team has lost since.
Now they are headed to the Rose Bowl.
USC reeled off eight consecutive victories after starting 1-3, enough to overtake Pac-12 South Division champion Colorado in the final College Football Playoff rankings.
Washington, which won the Pac-12 title Friday, was selected for the CFP. That opened the Pac-12’s...