Wednesday, January 02, 2008

We take time out to discuss the Rose Bowl

It's the Grandaddy Of Them All - the Rose Bowl. Although I could plant myself in front of the TV on New Year's Day and watch football all day (and when the first game was the Florida Citrus Bowl and the last the Orange, I did), the only game I really watch from start to finish is this one.

This year the Big Ten offered up Illinois at the altar of Pac-10 dominance. USC 49, Illinois 17. Check. And it wasn't even that close.

Recently, Sports Illustrated ran an article bemoaning the state of the BCS and advocating some sort of playoff. It alleged the biggest stumbling block was the Rose Bowl, who resolutely and stubbornly stick to their Big-10/Pac-10 matchup (which they have featured since 1947, except for recently - 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006). Which got me thinking: WHY does the Rose Bowl Committee insist on inviting the Big-10? Seems to me the Big-10 gets clobbered every year.

Was that an impression, or is it really true?

My family moved to the left coast in 1977, so let's look at the results since 1978. There have been 4 games that did not involve a Big-10 and a Pac-10 team; in 3 of those games one or the other conference was represented, but we've eliminated them from consideration anyway. For the remaining 27 games, the Pac-10 leads 17-10.

Not as bad a rout as I expected.

More data:

1. The Big-1o hasn't won the game since 2000 (Wisconsin).
2. From 1978-1987 (the year I left home), the Pac-10 went 9-1. This explains why I thought the Big-10 came out here every year to get clobbered.
3. USC just won back-to-back Rose Bowls, marking the sixth time a Pac-10 school has done that. Wisconsin is the only Big-10 school to accomplish the feat (1999/2000). Even STANFORD has won this bowl in consecutive years!
4. The Big-10 won 12 of the first 13 games. Since then the Pac-10 has gone 29-16 (again, games against the two conferences). Apparently sometime in the 1960s kids figured out they'd rather go to school in the sunshine than in the snow.

I see why the Rose Bowl likes the matchup. Big-10 teams travel well, and its usually a competitive game. The series (30-28 Pac-10) is essentially even.

I guess I'm just bummed my Bruins suck and the Trojans rolled.


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