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Rose Bowl Singing the Blues

October 14, 1998|Associated Press

If you think Nebraskans are down in the dumps after a loss by their beloved Cornhuskers, imagine how the folks at the Rose Bowl are feeling this week.

For 30 years, the Rose Bowl big shots have been praying for another Pacific 10/Big Ten matchup of No. 1 vs. No. 2 for the national title. It hasn't happened, but it might this year if Ohio State and UCLA remain 1-2 in the polls.

There's a problem, though. If the dream matchup comes through, it will be played in the Fiesta Bowl, not the Rose Bowl.

"It sure would be a unique situation," UCLA Coach Bob Toledo said. "It would be different than what people are accustomed to."

Welcome the world of the Bowl Championship Series.

Once the Rose Bowl signed up with the BCS this season, it gave up a half-century of the traditional Pac-10 champion vs. Big Ten champion in the "grandaddy of them all."

The Fiesta Bowl has been designated as the BCS' national title game, and the teams ranked 1-2 by the BCS will play in Tempe, Ariz., on Jan. 4.

The last Rose Bowl to host a 1-2 matchup for the national title was Jan. 1, 1969, when top-ranked Ohio State beat No. 2 USC, 27-16.

There is hope for the Rose, and it comes in the form of Notre Dame. The Irish (4-1) have a good chance at a BCS at-large spot it they can win nine or 10 games, and the Rose would jump at the chance to grab Notre Dame.


So who has the clearest path to a perfect season, and a shot at the Fiesta Bowl? Entering Saturday's games, 11 Top 25 teams are unbeaten.

Here's a rundown:

*No. 1 Ohio State (5-0): Clear sailing until Nov. 21, when Michigan shows up in Columbus. The Buckeyes are 1-8-1 vs. the Wolverines under Coach John Cooper. Until that result is in, hold all Fiesta Bowl tickets. The other games are against Minnesota, Northwestern, Indiana, Michigan State and Iowa.

*No. 2 UCLA (4-0): Bruins may be best team in Pac-10, but they still have a tough road ahead, beginning Saturday against No. 11 Oregon. The Dec. 5 makeup game at Miami after playing USC on Nov. 21 could be a problem too. In between, there's California, Stanford, Oregon State and Washington.

*No. 3 Tennessee (5-0): The Volunteers' toughest games are behind them, and only a major letdown could prevent the Rocky Toppers from reaching the Southeastern Conference title game without a perfect record. Possible opponents for that game? Arkansas or Mississippi State. Biggest question is whether the Volunteers can sneak into the Fiesta if the top three finish unbeaten.

*No. 4 Kansas State (5-0): One-game season for the Wildcats--versus Nebraska on Nov. 14. Even if the Wildcats win that one, plus the Big 12 title game, it's doubtful they can reach the Fiesta unless two of the undefeated teams ahead of them lose. Even then, a one-loss Florida or Florida State could pass Kansas State.

*No. 7 Virginia (5-0): Tough to win the rest, with games at Georgia Tech on Saturday, at Florida State (Nov. 7) and at Virginia Tech (Nov. 28)

*No. 9 Wisconsin (6-0): How about Ohio State vs. Wisconsin in the Fiesta Bowl? It can happen, but a once-beaten Florida or Florida State would probably stay ahead of the Badgers. Wisconsin, which does not play Ohio State in the regular-season, finishes with Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan and Penn State.

*No. 11 Oregon (5-0): We'll talk next week if the Ducks beat UCLA.

*No. 14 Virginia Tech (5-0): Three of the Hokies' final four games are against West Virginia, Syracuse and Virginia. A perfect season is not out of the question.

*No. 17 Arkansas (5-0): Razorbacks close the season at Tennessee, at Mississippi State, vs. LSU, and if they win those three, a probable rematch with Tennessee in the SEC championship. Hard to see Hogs winning even two of those.

*No. 22 Texas Tech (6-0): Tough part of schedule on deck; at Colorado, at Texas A&M, home to Missouri.

*No. 24 Tulane (4-0): At least one Bowden (Coach Tommy) is still undefeated, and a win over Louisville on Saturday may be a springboard to an undefeated season.

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