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BCS Bowl Predictions: Who Will Play In 2011 Rose Bowl?

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The college football season is almost over, but the Rose Bowl picture isn't very clear. What we do know is that January 1, 2011 will feature a matchup of two of the top six or seven teams in the country. It appears that this year won't be as simple as Pac-10 champ versus Big Ten champ, and that the BCS standings will likely be involved in determining both teams headed for Pasadena.

The Rematch: Unlikely

Last season, the Ohio State Buckeyes beat the Oregon Ducks in the Rose Bowl, 26-17. This year, Oregon is even better, atop all the polls and rankings, and appears headed for the national championship game on January 10. The only way the Ducks return to the Rose Bowl this year is if they lose one of their final two games (Arizona, at Oregon State).

Oregon's Replacement: Depends on Auburn

If the Ducks make the national title game, the Rose Bowl must choose a team to replace the would-be Pac-10 representative. Normally, that would be the second place team in the conference, the BCS No. 6 Stanford Cardinal, but this year it's not that simple. Per BCSFootball.org, the Rose Bowl must select the automatic qualifier from a non-BCS conference, which would mean Boise State or TCU. However, there can only be one automatic qualifier from a non-BCS conference (the other would get an at-large bid). If No. 2 Auburn loses to either Alabama or South Carolina in the next two weeks, one of Boise State or TCU would become an automatic qualifier in the national title game, leaving the Pac-10 to choose an at large team, which would open the door for Stanford to make a run for the roses.

The Big Ten - Muddled

With one game to play, three teams are tied for the conference lead. Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Michigan State are all 6-1, and if they all win next week the tiebreaker will be their place in the BCS standings. These three teams are ranked as follows in the BCS:

Team BCS Rank BCS Avg Coaches Harris Next Opp
Wisconsin 7 .7688 5 5 Northwestern
Ohio State 8 .7148 7 8 Michigan
Wisconsin 10 .6063 10 10 at Penn St

Michigan State really needs both Wisconsin and Ohio State to lose for it to have a chance to make the Rose Bowl.

Conclusion

If everybody wins out, expect Boise State to battle Wisconsin in the 2011 Rose Bowl.