2011 Bowl Projections: Stanford In Line For Rose Bowl, But Has BCS Championship Game In Mind

Andrew Luck and the Stanford Cardinal won their 16th consecutive game on Saturday night, a 56-48 triple overtime thriller over the USC Trojans in Los Angeles. With the win, Stanford jumped two spots to number four in the latest BCS rankings, and remain in line for a berth in the 2012 Rose Bowl. Though the Cardinal have larger goals in mind, like the BCS Championship Game. Here is a look at some scenarios for the Rose Bowl:

Pac-12

Stanford (8-0, 6-0) has a showdown with the Oregon Ducks (7-1, 5-0), who are ranked No. 8 in the BCS standings, on November 12 in Palo Alto. That game will all but certainly decide the Pac-12 North Division, with the winner in line to host the first-ever Pac-12 Championship Game on Friday, December 2.

The Arizona St. Sun Devils (6-2, 4-1) have the inside track in the Pac-12 South Division, especially with the USC Trojans (6-2, 3-2) ineligible for postseason play. Surprisingly, the UCLA Bruins (4-4, 3-2) still have a shot, especially if they are able to beat the Sun Devils at home in Pasadena this coming Saturday. A UCLA win over ASU would give them the tiebreaker, and the Bruins follow with game against conference newcomers the Utah Utes and Colorado Buffaloes, who have combined for one Pac-12 win so far this season.

The wrinkle here is that if Stanford continues to win out, they have a decent shot at finishing in the top two in the BCS standings, which would send them to New Orleans for the BCS Championship Game. If that happens, the Rose Bowl would get to choose a replacement for Stanford. Assuming Oregon wins the remainder of their games outside of the Stanford game, the Ducks would make a fine replacement in the Rose Bowl.

Important game this week: Arizona St. at UCLA, 4:30 p.m. PDT Saturday, November 5 (Versus)

Big Ten

The No. 16 Penn St. Nittany Lions (8-1, 5-0) are in the driver's seat in the Big Ten Leaders Division, but they have a very tough end to their schedule. Penn St. ends with a home game against the No. 10 Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-1, 3-1) and road contests with the Ohio State Buckeyes (5-3, 2-2) and No. 20 Wisconsin Badgers (6-2, 2-2). The Badgers lost to the Buckeyes on Saturday, but if they win out there is a good chance that home game on November 26 against Penn St. will decide the Leaders Division.

The Big Ten Legends Division is more tightly bunched, with the three ranked teams all at 3-1 in conference play. Nebraska beat the No. 17 Michigan St. Spartans (6-2, 3-1), and the Spartans beat the No. 15 Michigan Wolverines (7-1, 3-1). Michigan hosts Nebraska on November 19, which is looking like a key game in determining the division champion. But don't count out Michigan St., who ends their schedule with four games against teams with a combined 4-14 conference record.

The inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game is scheduled for Saturday, December 3, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Important game this week: Michigan at Iowa (5-3, 2-2), 9 a.m. PDT, Saturday, November 5 (ESPN); in an unexciting week for the Big Ten, this is the only game featuring two teams with winning records.

The 2012 Rose Bowl Game will be played on Monday, January 2, 2012 in Pasadena. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. PDT. The game will be televised by ESPN, with Brent Musberger, Kirk Hirbstreit, and Lisa Salters on the call. Stay tuned for more updates as the game approaches.

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