The Rose Bowl has historically pitted the champions of the Pac-12 against the champions of the Big Ten. Stanford won the Pac-12 Championship game against UCLA to earn the right to represent the conference, and Wisconsin pounded Nebraska to do the same for the Big Ten the day after.
Stanford went 11-2 on the season, with huge wins over Oregon, USC, Oregon State and UCLA to earn their trip to Pasadena. If they had avoided an upset bid against Washington and knocked off Notre Dame in South Bend, they might be the ones playing for a national championship right now. Instead they will face the 8-5 Badgers, who only qualifed for the game because undefeated Ohio State and 8-4 Penn State were both ruled ineligible.