Joe McKnight ran for 125 yards and a touchdown and caught six passes for 45 yards for the Trojans (11-2), who made their 32nd Rose Bowl appearance. USC posted a 32-18 victory over Michigan in last year's Rose Bowl.
Juice Williams passed for 245 yards while completing 21 of 35. But he had no touchdown passes and two interceptions for Illinois (9-4). It was Illinois' fifth trip to the Rose Bowl but its first since 1984.
Rashard Mendenhall rushed for 155 yards, including a 79-yard touchdown run for the Illini, who rode a four-game winning streak into the game. Arrelious Benn caught five passes for 80 yards and a TD.