Stanford's One Rose Bowl Scenario

The bad news: there is one way Stanford makes the Rose Bowl. The good news: We lay it out here. The better news: Stanford needs lots of favorites to win. The best news of all? Read on...

In these scenarios, we're assuming Oregon State beats Washington State, which simplifies matters greatly by eliminating USC from the Rose Bowl chase. (Root for WSU to pull the second-greatest upset of all-time, because an Oregon State loss can only help Stanford.) Plus, seeing as we're a Stanford website concerned with how Stanford can get to the Rose Bowl, we're also assuming the Cardinal beat Cal to keep their hopes alive.

Given those two results, here are the Pac-10 standings, with all records Pac-10 only:

Oregon 6-1, at Arizona, vs. Oregon State remaining
Oregon State 6-2, at Oregon remaining, (assumed win over WSU)
Stanford 7-2 (assumed win over Cal)
Arizona, 4-2, vs. Oregon, at Arizona State, at USC remaining

For Stanford to make the Rose Bowl then, Oregon must lose to Oregon State and/or Arizona, lest they win the conference outright. We'll explore both of those possibilities below.

Scenario No. 1 -- Oregon loses to Oregon State, making our standings look like this:

Oregon State 7-2
Stanford 7-2
Oregon 6-2, at Arizona
Arizona 4-2, vs. Oregon, at Arizona State, at USC

Stanford loses in a three-way tie with Oregon State and Arizona, or in a two-way tie with Oregon State, because the first tiebreaker is head-to-head results and Stanford's two conference losses are to Oregon State and Arizona. However, what if Oregon is also tied with Stanford and Oregon State atop the standings? Could Stanford could still go to the Rose Bowl? Let's see what happens if we give Oregon the win over Arizona to remain in a tie atop the Pac-10 standings. Now the relevant part of our standings are like this:

Oregon State 7-2
Stanford 7-2
Oregon 7-2

Nonetheless, Oregon State has wins over Stanford and Oregon, and thus goes to the Rose Bowl on the tiebreaker. No dice.

Scenario No. 2 -- Oregon loses to Arizona:

Oregon 6-2, vs. OSU
Oregon State 6-2, at Oregon
Stanford 7-2
Arizona 5-2, at Arizona State, at USC

Again, Stanford loses in a two-way tie to Oregon State or in a three-way tie with Oregon State and Arizona because the first tiebreaker is head-to-head results. To avoid such a situation then, the Card then need Oregon to beat Oregon State, which would result in these standings:

Oregon 7-2
Stanford 7-2
Arizona 5-2, at Arizona State, vs. USC
Oregon State 6-3

Arizona now has wins over both Oregon and Stanford, so if they finish 7-2, they win the conference. Thus, Stanford needs Arizona to lose to Arizona State and/or USC, resulting in these standings:

Stanford 7-2
Oregon 7-2
Oregon State 6-3
Arizona State 6-3 or 5-4 Stanford has the head-to-head win over Oregon, and so the Rose Bowl is theirs! Cue up the fight song.

********** ********** **********

To summarize, assuming Oregon State beats Washington State, there is only one way in which Stanford can make the Rose Bowl: Stanford beats Cal. Arizona beats Oregon. Oregon beats Oregon State. USC and/or Arizona State beats Arizona.

For the Stanford fan then, the situation is simple. Root hard for the capitalized team in these games:

1. Cal at STANFORD
2. Oregon at ARIZONA
3. Oregon State at OREGON

4a. Arizona at SOUTHERN CAL
or 4b. Arizona at ARIZONA STATE


The bad news is that there's no wiggle room -- Stanford needs each of the first three results and either 4a or 4b to make the Rose Bowl.

The good news, though, is that other than in Oregon at Arizona, Stanford is rooting for the favorite in each of its must-win games, and for a likely-favored USC to beat Arizona.

The best news of all, if it's not already evident? Holy moly, home cooking. I didn't realize this until I typed it up right now, but Stanford needs the home team to win in each of these late-season matchups between two relatively evenly matched teams. That's actually quite a reasonable assumption in college football.

Hope for big, loud crowds down the stretch, because if home-field advantage holds, The Bootleg will be making a 10th anniversary commemorative trip to Pasadena.

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