But it's all clarified now.
USC will play Penn State on January 2nd in Pasadena.
Both teams have huge winning streaks. USC's got an 8-game winning streak since starting 1-3 on the season. Penn State's currently running a 9-game winning streak, so the Rose Bowl match-up promises to be one of the most exciting of the New Year's "Big 6."
See the USC Trojans sports page, "No. 9 USC Football To Play No. 5 Penn State In 2017 Rose Bowl."
And at LAT, "USC earns Rose Bowl berth, capping dramatic turnaround":
@LindseyThiry can you tell me how USC is in the rose bowl? I thought the winner of the PAC-12 goes. UW is 4 so why isn't it Colorado?— Andrea Cajuste (@GoodLooknNSmart) December 4, 2016
After Pac-12 Champ goes to CFP, Rose Bowl takes next highest ranked team, which ended up being USC (Beat UW & CU, plus CU lost badly to UW) https://t.co/ZitiBZ96Jm— Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) December 4, 2016
The return to the Rose Bowl culminates a stunning turnaround for USC, which lost 52-6 to Alabama in the season opener, then dropped games on the road to Stanford and Utah. The Trojans finished the season with a 9-3 record.
During that stretch, pundits speculated about Clay Helton’s job security in his first season as full-time coach, and Helton changed quarterbacks, entrusting the offense to Sam Darnold. The redshirt freshman quarterback dropped his first start to Utah on a late comeback, but he has not lost since, becoming one of the most effective quarterbacks in the nation.
USC dominated its last eight games, winning by an average margin of almost 20 points. It played in only one close game late, against Colorado, when USC turned the ball over four times. But USC still would’ve won that game by two scores if not for a late knee by JuJu Smith-Schuster, who opted to end the game rather than score an unnecessary touchdown.
USC and Penn State first met in the Rose Bowl in 1923, resulting in a 14-3 USC win. They didn't meet again until 2009 for a 38-24 USC win.
Neither team has been back to Rose Bowl since. In the interim, each team was rocked by some of the most crippling NCAA sanctions in the organization’s history — USC for its student-athletes accepting impermissible benefits, Penn State for its wide-ranging child sexual abuse scandal.
USC will make its record 34th appearance in the bowl game, where it has a 24-9 record. Penn State will make its fourth. It has gone 1-2 all-time.