USC is still a player in national championship picture

The Ducks have played in two of the last three Rose Bowl games; Oregon State hasn't been to the Jan.1 game since 1965.

Two-loss Stanford is already on the BCS cut line at No. 14 this week, with a looming Nov. 17 date at Oregon.

If there are no eligible Pac-12 schools from which to choose, the Rose Bowl would have to dip into the available at-large pool.

Say Oregon edges Notre Dame out for the No. 2 BCS spot. That could give the Rose Bowl access to the free-agent Irish. "That would be kind of cool," Ash said.

Notre Dame's last appearance in the Rose Bowl game, in 1925, featured Knute Rockne and the Four Horsemen.

If the final BCS order is Alabama-Oregon, though, the Sugar Bowl would get first selection for losing its Southeastern Conference anchor.

The Sugar would normally substitute in an SEC school — but maybe not if Notre Dame is sitting there at 12-0.

The Rose Bowl could end up with an SEC school. Think of Louisiana State at 10-2, or maybe two-loss Georgia or Florida.

In 2006, remember, LSU seemed a lock to come west. The school even presold 32,000 Rose Bowl tickets in preparation for that season's BCS fallout.

The two Rose Bowl scenarios were USC vs. LSU, or LSU vs. Michigan.

The only thing that could derail the plan was unranked UCLA's shocking Pete Carroll's powerhouse and Florida somehow overtaking Michigan for No. 2 in the BCS standings.

Well, guess what … UCLA shocked USC, 13-9, and Florida lobbied its way past Michigan.

Florida played Ohio State for the BCS title and USC contractually slotted back to the Rose Bowl to play Michigan.

"We tracked them until the very end," Ash said of LSU.

It makes Ash's head hurt to talk about scenarios this early. "It's really fun," he said of the speculation, "but the bottom line is there is a lot of football to play."

Ash could not deny, though, USC's role in determining a lot of these outcomes.

The Trojans, it turns out, still have "unfinished business."

It's just not the business they wanted to finish.

Twitter: @DufresneLATimes