Pac-ing for Pasadena?
College football is built on tradition and perhaps there is no higher tradition than Big 10 vs Pac 12 in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day. The only problem is that tradition may not be upheld this year and the blame can be placed on the Washington Huskies.
As it stands Oregon is fourth in the recent BCS standings (for now we'll bypass the ridiculous notion that the Ducks are fourth when they rank second in both the Harris and coaches poll). Now, let's assume the Ducks run the table. If that's the case Oregon would score wins over USC, Stanford and Oregon State. The Ducks would then get another win in the Pac 12 title game over the South division champion, which would likely be USC, UCLA or Arizona State.
With four quality wins to end the year the Ducks would likely get a bump in the BCS standings, perhaps enough to finish in the top two. If that's the case the Ducks would qualify for the BCS championship game and the Rose Bowl would get to pick a team to replace Oregon. Now, the Rose Bowl wants a Pac 12 team. But based on our scenario the rest of the Pac 12 would be decimated. Oregon State would be at best 10-2, Stanford would be at best 9-3 (those two teams meet on November 10) and any way you slice the South division the top team would be 9-4.
Take a look at the BCS standings again. Oregon State is 11th while Stanford is 14th. A loss for both teams, which would happen if Oregon stays unbeaten, would likely mean that both teams would be ranked outside of the top 14 in the final BCS standings. Why is this important? Well, if I'm reading the BCS selection process right, the four at-large selections would need to be teams with at least nine wins and ranked in the top 14. Notre Dame, Florida, Oklahoma and Clemson would be the four at-large qualifiers. So would the Rose Bowl be able to pick a Pac 12 school? Would they even want to considering Notre Dame or Oklahoma would be a better national draw than Oregon State? What if say a 9-4 Wisconsin team wins the Big 10 championship? Around here that'd be great but nationally there would be much scoffing at an Oregon State-Wisconsin Rose Bowl.
So what does this have to do with Washington? The Huskies have played the role of giant killer in the Pac 12 this year. Back on Thursday, September 27 the Huskies upset then 8th ranked Stanford 17-13. Last weekend Washington handed then 7th ranked Oregon State their first loss of the season. Thanks to Washington (and USC's loss to Arizona last week) the rest of the Pac 12 looks ordinary compared to Oregon. There's even a chance that by the end of the season Oregon will be the only Pac 12 team ranked in the top 20. Of course, in the goofy world of the BCS you have to not only pay attention to wins and losses but also to your opponent's wins and losses. So there's plenty at stake tonight as Washington plays California. For tradition's sake the better Washington is, the better the chances are that Oregon State or Stanford stay in the top 14. Of course, this could all end up being a moot point if Oregon loses.