The folks who run the Rose Bowl have to be pleased, though they'd never admit Ohio State's misfortune was to their benefit.
The winner of the Ohio State-Michigan game Saturday will be the outright Big Ten champion and in all likelihood is headed to Pasadena, Calif., for the Granddaddy of Them All on Jan. 1.
That should give the Rose Bowl the traditional Big Ten-Pac-10 matchup it desires but has often relinquished since the Bowl Championship Series was implemented in 1998. Four times since then the Rose has had to live without Big Ten-Pac-10, twice when it hosted the national title game.
Before Illinois upset Ohio State, the Rose Bowl was in danger of again being forced to go off the board. If the Buckeyes had stayed undefeated and reached the BCS national championship game, no other Big Ten team would've qualified for an at-large BCS bid.
Well, that's not a problem anymore, thanks to Juice Williams and the Illini, who beat the Buckeyes 28-21 in Columbus last week.
So barring some wild chain of events that gets Ohio State in the national title game, the Big Ten winner is Rose Bowl bound.
As for the Pac-10, Oregon could win the league and get itself into the national title game, but even if that happens the Rose Bowl seems to be in good shape.
Either Arizona State or Southern California - they play Thanksgiving night - should be available to the Rose Bowl as an at-large pick.
The picks:
Thursday
No. 2 Oregon (minus 12) at Arizona
An ugly win could hurt Ducks in BCS standings ... OREGON 38-24.
Friday
No. 13 Hawaii (off) at Nevada
Hawaii QB Colt Brennan (concussion) says he'll play ... NEVADA 47-44.
Saturday
No. 1 LSU (minus 19 1/2) at Mississippi
Tigers have beaten Rebels five straight; games are usually close ... LSU 27-17.
No. 3 Oklahoma (minus 8) at Texas Tech
OU lost on controversial last-second TD last time in Lubbock ... OKLAHOMA 40-28.
Iowa State (plus 26 1/2) at No. 4 Kansas
Jayhawks have scored over 40 seven times ... KANSAS 49-20.
No. 5 West Virginia (minus 6 1/2) at No. 21 Cincinnati
Bearcats lead nation with 35 takeaways ... CINCINNATI 33-30.
No. 6 Missouri (minus 7) at Kansas State
Showdown with Kansas looming for Tigers ... MISSOURI 38-20.
No. 7 Ohio State (off) at No. 23 Michigan
Buckeyes have won three straight and four of five meetings ... MICHIGAN 28-24.
No. 22 Kentucky (plus 7 1/2) at No. 8 Georgia
Bulldogs have scored over 40 in three straight ... GEORGIA 43-28.
Miami (plus 17) at No. 10 Virginia Tech
'Canes need another win to become bowl eligible ... VIRGINIA TECH 26-10.
Florida Atlantic (plus 34 1/2) at No. 14 Florida
FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger is 3-3 against Gators ... FLORIDA 55-10.
No. 18 Boston College (plus 7 1/2) at No. 15 Clemson
Winner goes to ACC title game ... CLEMSON 33-21.
Idaho (plus 34) at No. 17 Boise State
Broncos outscored Vandals 349-150 in eight-game winning streak ... BOISE ST. 52-13.
Vanderbilt (plus 11 1/2) at No. 19 Tennessee
Vandy still needs win for bowl eligibility ... TENNESSEE 35-28.
Northwestern (plus 13 1/2) at No. 20 Illinois
Wildcats have won four straight in Sweet Sioux Tomahawk series ... ILLINOIS 33-23.
No. 24 Wisconsin (minus 14) at Minnesota
Paul Bunyan's Axe has gone to Badgers 10 of last 12 meetings ... WISCONSIN 44-21.
Syracuse (plus 18 1/2) at No. 25 Connecticut
'Cuse snapped 12-game league losing skid against UConn last year ... UCONN 37-14.
---
Last week's record: 17-4 (straight); 8-13 (vs. points).
Season: 176-47 (straight); 103-96-6 (vs. points).

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