Well, the Stanford Cardinal won't make the Rose Bowl this season, something they haven't done since the 1999 season. Wins Saturday by both the Oregon Ducks and Auburn Tigers have all but clinched their spot in the BCS National Championship Game. That means, barring some wacky movement in tomorrow's final BCS standings, your 2011 Rose Bowl will feature the TCU Horned Frogs against the Wisconsin Badgers.
Oregon beat the Oregon State Beavers, 37-20, in the Civil War on Saturday, giving the Ducks the outright Pac-10 conference championship, while Auburn beat the South Carolina Gamecocks, 56-17, to win the SEC Championship. The Ducks and Tigers will play for the BCS championship on January 10 in Glendale, Arizona. With a Pac-10 team in the title game, the Rose Bowl gets to select a replacement team instead of the Ducks for Pasadena.
Normally, picking another Pac-10 team, especially one ranked No. 4 like Stanford, would be a no-brainer for the Rose Bowl. But it's not that simple. You see, the Rose Bowl is required to take an automatic qualifier from a non-BCS conference should it lose a team to the national title game at the first occurrence from 2011-2014, and this year No. 3 TCU fits that bill. The 12-0 Horned Frogs would play the Big Ten champion, which won't officially be decided until Sunday night.
The Wisconsin Badgers, Ohio State Buckeyes, and Michigan St. Spartans finished in a three-way tie atop the Big Ten, and the tiebreaker in this case to determine the conference champion is highest BCS ranking. Last week, Wisconsin was ranked No. 5, with a decent lead over No. 6 Ohio State, and Michigan State holding at No. 8. The problem for the two trailing teams is that none of the three teams play this week, so the rankings will likely go unchanged.
That leaves Wisconsin likely to face TCU in the 2011 Rose Bowl, to be held on January 1 in Pasadena. The Badgers are 3-3 all-time in the Rose Bowl, having won their last three trips to Pasadena (1994, 1999, and 2000). TCU has never played in the Rose Bowl.