We are down to the final four in determining the participants in the 2013 Rose Bowl, with the Pac-12 representative decided on Friday night. The UCLA Bruins hit the road to face the Stanford Cardinal in the Pac-12 Championship Game (5 p.m. PT on Fox). They will face the winner of the Big Ten Championship Game, to be played Saturday night in Indianapolis, and there is potential for a rematch in Pasadena on Jan. 1.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers have played in two prior Rose Bowls, and will try to make it a third by beating the Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday night in the Big Ten title game. The Cornhuskers are favored over the Badgers, and the Cardinal are favored over the Bruins; if the favorites both win this weekend, we will see a rematch of the Rose Bowl from 72 years ago.
In 1940, the Stanford Indians came to Pasadena 9-0, but found themselves behind the Cornhuskers (8-1), 13-7 in the second quarter. The Cardinal used a new formation to score two touchdowns for a 21-13 win, as the Pasadena Star-News explained:
"The 1941 Stanford-Nebraska holiday game in Pasadena made the entire country T-formation-conscious…. So deceiving was Stanford’s attack, (fans) were unable to tell where the ball was or who had it a good half of the time. It was that new, that different, and that mystifying."
Stanford ended the season ranked No. 2 by the Associated Press, behind also undefeated Minnesota.
Wisconsin is gunning for its third consecutive trip to the Rose Bowl, and ninth overall. The Badgers have lost close and memorable games in the last two years to Oregon and TCU, but their previous three Pasadena trips featured games against either UCLA or Stanford.
Running back extraordinaire Ron Dayne won back-to-back Rose Bowl MVP awards in 1999 and 2000 with wins over UCLA (38-31) and Stanford (17-9), respectively. Dayne ran for 246 yards in the win over the Bruins, then followed that up with 200 yards on the ground the next year against Stanford. The Badgers in 1999 and 2000 became the first Big Ten team ever to win the Rose Bowl in back-to-back years.
Wisconsin also beat UCLA 21-16 in the 1994 Rose Bowl.
Stanford's last Rose Bowl game was that 2000 game against Wisconsin, while UCLA hasn't returned to its home stadium in January since that 1999 game against the Badgers.