Big Ten bloggers Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett will occasionally give their takes on a burning question facing the league. We'll both have strong opinions, but not necessarily the same view. We'll let you decide which blogger is right.
We know the Big Ten champion is going to the Rose Bowl. But we don't know which team the league will face in Pasadena. So today's Take Two topic is: Which team would you most like to see play the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl?
Take 1: Brian Bennett
If we were talking about the best chance for the Big Ten to win the game, then I think the league ought to be rooting for Oregon State, UCLA and Stanford, three very good teams who would be evenly matched with the Big Ten champ. But this is more about who we would like to see in the game. Oregon is without a doubt the marquee team from the Pac-12, but we've seen the Ducks in Pasadena a couple of times recently and the storylines would be a little tired. That's why I'm rooting for a scenario where the Rose Bowl goes a non-traditional route and selects Notre Dame.
It could happen, though it's a little unlikely. Oregon would have to make the BCS title game, and no other Pac-12 team could finish in the Top 14 of the BCS standings. Right now, Stanford is No. 13, while Oregon State (16), UCLA (17) and USC (18). But let's say Oregon crushes Stanford and Oregon State, Notre Dame blows out USC and USC tramples UCLA. Then you could see a scenario where the Pac-12 runner up is outside the Top 14. And then the Rose could select a potential 12-0, No. 3 Notre Dame. All of a sudden, the game would be squarely in the national spotlight with an undefeated Irish team trying to impress voters. You'd have the Big Ten trying to atone for going 0-3 against Notre Dame this season. If Nebraska or Wisconsin made the Rose Bowl, their offenses are good enough to test the terrific Irish front seven. If Michigan got some luck and reached Pasadena, the Wolverines and Denard Robinson would have a chance to make up for all those turnovers in South Bend and possibly stick it to their rival for backing out of future games.
The Rose Bowl is supposed to be a game for champions. So if the Pac-12 champ can't get there, let's see the Golden Domers take on the Big Ten.
Take 2: Adam Rittenberg
I wouldn't mind seeing Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl, although we've already seen the Big Ten face the Irish this season. After covering a sloppy Michigan-Notre Dame on Sept. 22, I don't know how excited I'd be for a rematch. I look at this from the standpoint of which Big Ten team is most likely to reach Pasadena, and which matchup featuring that team is the most appealing. Nebraska in my view has the best chance to get to Pasadena. The Huskers already have faced UCLA this season, and while I wouldn't be opposed to Nebraska-USC, Nebraska-Stanford or even Nebraska-Oregon, we can do a little better. I want Nebraska-Oklahoma. Let's get the longtime rivals back together.
The teams last played in the 2010 Big 12 championship, and they've met 86 times, with Oklahoma holding the series edge at 45-38-3. The Huskers and Sooners are close to announcing an agreement for a series in 2020 and 2021, but that's a really long way off. Let's get the matchup Jan. 1 in Pasadena. Would it be a traditional Rose Bowl? No. But with the Big Ten's best team (Ohio State) on probation and the Pac-12's best team (Oregon) likely going to the national title game, the traditional matchup isn't nearly as appealing. If it's not the Big Ten's best vs. the Pac-12's best, let's think outside the box. The game would feature two dynamic quarterbacks (Taylor Martinez and Landry Jones) leading two top-20 offenses. You have two fiery coaches (Bob Stoops and Bo Pelini) who are longtime friends. You have two passionate fan bases that would fill the Rose Bowl with red and crimson. Good times.
If I can't have Ohio State-Oregon -- and I can't -- Nebraska-Oklahoma definitely looks appealing.