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CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Rose Bowl's dream scenario is as easy as 1-2-3-4

With the BCS title game being played in Pasadena, the top four ranked teams in the final BCS standings could end up playing in the Rose Bowl in January.

October 29, 2009|CHRIS DUFRESNE

The Rose Bowl brain trust doesn't publicly cheer for schools, but it can shake 100 pompoms for number sequences, and the dream countdown for this season's two-game extravaganza is, without question, 4-3-2-1.

It's also the countdown to the end for Rose Bowl Chief Executive Mitch Dorger, retiring after this season's Bowl Championship Series title game on Jan. 7.

What a way to bow out: No. 4 playing No. 3 in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 and, six days later, No. 2 putting rose petal to the metal against No. 1.

It could happen.

"That would be incredible," Dorger said.

The Rose Bowl is last up in the four-bowl rotation of double-hosting, which has worked out well so far for the Fiesta, Sugar and Orange bowls.

Never, though, have the top four schools been represented in the two-game format.

Take a look at this week's BCS standings: Florida, Alabama, Texas, Iowa and USC.

If everything goes to form (yeah, right, when has that happened?), the winner of Florida-Alabama in the Southeastern Conference title game would face undefeated Texas of the Big 12 for the BCS championship.

And that might leave No. 3 Iowa vs. No. 4 USC in the Rose Bowl.

"There's a lot of football left to be played," Dorger said. "One never knows. The last time we thought we had a lock on Iowa in the game, we watched the Rose Bowl East at the Orange Bowl in Miami."

That was after 2002, when USC and Iowa played near the Atlantic Ocean.

If you're tired of USC in Pasadena, there's a possible No. 3 vs. No. 4 Rose Bowl game that could be even more attractive: Iowa-Oregon.

You think anyone from those states would make the trip? Oregon hasn't been to the Rose Bowl since the 1994 season, and Iowa's last trip followed the 1990 season.

You might have to break up fights at the souvenir stands.

Oregon-Iowa would require No. 10 Oregon defeating USC Saturday in Eugene and the Ducks winning the Pacific 10 Conference title with an 11-1 record.

If Iowa wins out to finish 12-0, it's possible that closing Oregon victories against USC, Stanford, Arizona State, Arizona and Oregon State could push the Ducks all the way to No. 4 in the final BCS standings.

The combined record of Oregon's remaining opponents is 24-12. There's also a chance a one-loss Florida-Alabama loser not dropping below No. 4.

A hundred things in the next month could go right or wrong for the Rose and other major bowls.

Here's our dream BCS lineup:

BCS title: Florida (13-0) vs. Texas (13-0).

Rose: USC (11-1) or Oregon (11-1) vs. Iowa (12-0).

Fiesta: Penn State (11-1) vs. Texas Christian (12-0).

Sugar: Alabama (12-1) vs. Cincinnati (12-0).

Orange: Notre Dame (10-2) vs. Georgia Tech (12-1).

What's Notre Dame doing in here? Sorry, but if the Irish win out and finish 10-2 and rank in the BCS top 14, they're going to get an at-large BCS bid.

Where's 13-0 Boise State?

There's a scenario in which undefeated TCU and Boise State could both earn BCS bids, but it would probably require the Big 12 and Big Ten runner-up being less attractive at 10-2.

What about USC or Oregon as the 10-2 runner-up in the Pac-10?

Reality check: Only twice has the Pac-10 sent a second team to a BCS game -- Oregon State (to the Fiesta) in 2000 and USC (to the Orange) in 2002.

Why hasn't it happened more? The Fiesta Bowl, logistically, has always been the most probable landing spot. USC to the Orange was an exception.

Another Rose Bowl scenario: A Texas loss at Oklahoma State this weekend opens the door for USC vs. Alabama or Florida for the BCS title.

Then, the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl could pit 10-2 Oregon vs. 12-0 Iowa if the Hawkeyes got passed over for the title game by one-loss USC.

Let's go one step further. Iowa and USC both win. That would leave one team as BCS champion and the other 13-0 Iowa. And Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany couldn't say a word because he's the biggest playoff critic out there.

These are the things that keep some of us up at night.

OK, three of us.

Blitz package

* Ponder this: Florida State's Christian Ponder was not among 15 semifinalists selected this week for the Davey O'Brien Award as college football's top quarterback. Ponder ranks No. 9 in NCAA pass efficiency. He has completed 70% of his passes with 12 touchdowns and only one interception.

* Ponder this II. How can Boise State sophomore Kellen Moore, the nation's top-rated passer on the No. 6 team in the country, be receiving so little consideration for this year's Heisman Trophy? Moore has 21 touchdown passes and only two interceptions. Everyone says there is no clear-cut candidate this year, but if Moore had "ND" or "USC" on his helmet instead of "BSU," maybe there would be.

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