Two legendary conferences have been meeting in the Rose Bowl for decades. The Big Ten and Pac-12 have some of the most memorable games in college football postseason history: the 1997 matchup between Ohio State and Arizona State, the 1988 battle that saw Michigan State defeat USC 20-17, and of course, the 2012 Rose Bowl between the Ducks and Wisconsin.
But there is no point in looking at the past. The two conferences have changed considerably – in both size and style – and new teams have risen to the top. Oregon and Stanford have separated themselves from the rest of the Pac, while Penn State and Ohio State have spent time out of the post season due to NCAA sanctions.
So which is the better conference this year? Was Ohio State’s 12-0 season a coming out party for Braxton Miller and Urban Meyer? Will Michigan be better or worse without “Shoelace” Robinson as the ball handler? Can Oregon shake off those missed field goals and put it together for another undefeated season or will a new head coach and his flock go through growing pains? Don’t forget Stanford, whose coach David Shaw has tweaked while keeping the Palo Alto train running.
Conference play in both leagues will have national title implications. The SEC will have at least one team in the ‘Ship, but there are five other conference winners that, if undefeated, could have an opportunity to dethrone the seven-time reigning champs from the South. The winners of the Big Ten and Pac-12 have as good a chance as any at a #2 BCS ranking come season’s end.