Rose Bowl will Determine The National Championship, Making Pasadena College Football's Crown City

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Get a pair of scissors, clip this story, fold it as neatly as you might an ATM receipt and stuff it in your wallet.

This is your unofficial, hip-pocket 2002 Rose Bowl organizer.

Dazzle friends with your intimate knowledge of this year's game, different from all others before it.

This is the year the Rose Bowl hosts college football's national championship game on Jan. 3, at 5 p.m., on a Thursday night, two days after the last flowered float has motored down Colorado Boulevard.

This is not your father's father's Rose Bowl--it's the great-great Granddaddy.

Ten things you need to know:

1. The game is a contractual sellout. Most of the tickets, priced at $150 each, have been allotted to participating teams and conferences. In December, a limited number of seats will be made available to the public only through TicketMaster, (213) 365-3550. Details: http://www.tournamentofroses.com.

2. For the first time since 1946, the Rose Bowl probably will not feature the traditional matchup between the Pacific 10 and Big Ten conference champions.

This year's Rose Bowl will match the nation's two top-ranked teams, as determined by the final Bowl Championship Series rankings, a four-pronged rating system incorporated in 1998.

The Rose Bowl still could feature a school from the Pac-10 or Big Ten, or both, provided those schools are ranked No. 1 and/or No. 2 in the final BCS standings.

The Rose Bowl also could feature Florida-Virginia Tech, or Texas-Miami, Oregon-Texas, Tennessee-Georgia Tech.

3. The Rose Bowl first broke from tradition in 1996 in an effort to bring sanity to a chaotic bowl process.

In 1992, the Bowl Coalition was formed to tie conference champions to specific bowls.

In 1995, the coalition became the Bowl Alliance, which allowed schools to abandon their bowl tie-ins to play in a No. 1 versus No. 2 game for the "mythical" national title.

Problem: A true national title game could not be made so long as the Rose Bowl was contracted to host the Pac-10 and Big Ten.

In 1994, No. 2 Penn State had to play Oregon in the Rose Bowl instead of No. 1 Nebraska in the Orange.

In 1996, No. 2 Arizona State played Ohio State in the Rose instead of No. 1 Florida State in the Sugar.

Later in 1996, the Rose Bowl agreed to release a team if it was No. 1 or No. 2 and, in 1998, become a full-fledged BCS member.

In return, the Rose Bowl has been awarded the national title games in 2002 and 2006.

4. The Pac-10 champion, if it is not No. 1 or No. 2 this year, will advance to the Fiesta Bowl and meet the Big 12 champion, provided that team is not ranked first or second.

5. Arizona is the only school from the Pac-10 or Big Ten never to have played in the Rose Bowl game. If Arizona wins the conference title this year and is not No. 1 or No. 2, it will go to the Fiesta and will still be looking for its first Rose Bowl berth.

6. The Big Ten champion is a free agent. If its champion is not No. 1 or No. 2, it will play in the Fiesta, Orange or Sugar bowl.

7. The Rose Bowl has hosted the national championship game before, but only because it happened to break that way. In 1963 No. 1 USC defeated No. 2 Wisconsin, and in 1969, No. 1 Ohio State beat No. 2 USC.

In 1997, Michigan claimed the Associated Press title with a win over Washington State. The coaches' poll awarded Nebraska the title.

8. This year's game should be more orderly than the first, in 1902, which ended with a stampede of fans. The game was scrapped and replaced with chariot races until football returned in 1916.

9. To review, the parade will remain on Jan. 1, two days before the game. All the traditional between-game festivities will be stretched out over two days.

10. Considering the cost of a Rose Bowl ticket, you might consider a tryout for ABC's "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire," hosted by Regis Philbin, this year's Rose Parade grand marshal.

He will also be responsible for the pregame coin flip.

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BCS Championship Game

What: Rose Bowl

When: Jan. 3, 2002

Where: Pasadena

Past Results: 2000 Orange Bowl: Oklahoma 13, Florida State 2. 1999 Sugar Bowl: Florida State 46, Virginia Tech 29. 1998 Fiesta Bowl: Tennessee 23, Florida State 16

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