That’s why I love college football.
Yes, I’m talking about Southern California’s 52-49 win over Penn State on Monday, in which the Trojans held a two-score lead in the first half, then came back from a two-point deficit in the second half and scored the final 17 points of the game.
Things didn’t look good early for the Nittany Lions, after mishandling the opening kickoff to start at their own 3-yard line, then throwing an interception on the first play of the game. Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley threw another pass on the second drive of the game, another interception. McSorley didn’t complete a pass until 21 seconds left in the first quarter — a 2-yarder to Chris Godwin — and by that time USC had a 13-point lead.
But then something magical happened for the Nittany Lions — yes, the team that ended up on the losing end of an improbable comeback; I’m getting there — Penn State scored four touchdowns. In a row. On four consecutive offensive plays.
McSorley capped off a drive in the second quarter with an 11-yard pass to Mike Gesicki to make it 27-21 USC after the point-after.
USC made a drive and missed a long field goal just before halftime, and the opening drive in the third quarter went basically nowhere to set up a punt.
Penn State’s Saquan Barkely promptly ripped off a 79-yard touchdown run.
USC punted again.
McSorley found Godwin on a 72-yard touchdown pass.
USC quarterback Sam Darnold threw a pick to Brandon Bell, but tackled his unintended receiver at the 3-yard line to prevent a pick-six.
McSorley punches the ball in from the 3-yard line on the next play.
Count ‘em up, that’s four touchdowns in four offensive plays. The entire bonanza lasted less than a 12 minutes of actual play. It made a two-score SC lead evaporate into a 41-27 deficit.
Incidentally, the scoring frenzy broke the Rose Bowl record for the highest scoring game. According to ESPN’s CollegeFootball Twitter account, that happened in the third quarter.
It was like that time in college when my roomates and I changed the video game’s difficulty setting to rookie mode, just to see how many touchdowns we could score before class startedI know what you’re thinking — “But Stucki, I thought you said Penn State lost in dramatic fashion?”
Well they did.
See, after that weird four-scores-in-four-plays nonsense, USC apparently set Penn State’s difficulty mode back up to the Heisman level and shut the Nittany Lions out during the entire fourth quarter.
When Darnold threw the touchdown pass to Deontay Burnett that made it 49-49, I figured the ensuing Penn State drive would sputter out and send the game into overtime.
I was only half-correct.
I’ll admit it; I went into the other room to grab some more bean dip. When I came back to see USC players celebrating on the field, I figured it had been a quick overtime.
I soon realized my error. I missed McSorley’s interception, and I missed Trojan kicker Matt Boermeester’s 46-yard field goal as time expired.
But sometime during the frantic dash to my laptop and the furious typing to pull up the highlights I missed, I couldn’t help but smile as I thought to myself — “this is why I love college football.”
Tavin Stucki is a sportswriter from Midvale, Utah, who has a healthy distaste for most football teams in the Pac-12 and the Big 10 — and most Power 5 teams, for that matter. Send any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.