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Stanford wins Pac-12, will likely face Michigan State in Rose Bowl

The No. 7 Cardinal will reach a BCS bowl for the fourth year in a row. They'll likely play a fellow defense-first, power team in Pasadena, but the matchup is not official yet.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

After their Pac-12 Championship win over Arizona State on Saturday, 11-2 Stanford has won the conference for the second year in a row and will play in the Rose Bowl. The Cardinal will likely draw No. 10 Michigan State, but the official pairing will be announced Sunday.

The game will be held in Pasadena on New Year's Day, and the Cardinal will face an opponent from the Big Ten. Michigan State is playing Ohio State in the Big Ten title game at the moment, but no matter the result, it appears the Spartans will end up in the Rose Bowl.

If Ohio State wins, the Buckeyes will likely go to the BCS National Championship Game, leaving the Big Ten runners-up to the Rose Bowl (as long as the Spartans are ranked No. 14 or better in the BCS). If the Spartans win, they'll get the automatic Rose bid.

The Spartans went 11-1 in the regular season, with a perfect 8-0 record in Big Ten play and just one loss -- a 17-13 defeat at Notre Dame. They boast one of the best defenses in the FBS, but did not play Ohio State or Wisconsin in the regular season and were unable to climb very high in the rankings.

Michigan State is 3-1 all-time in the Rose Bowl, last playing in the game in 1988, when they defeated USC, 20-17. The Spartans played UCLA in their three other appearances in the game, beating the Bruins twice and losing once.

This will be Stanford's 14th appearance in the Rose Bowl -- tying them for third-most all-time with Washington and Ohio State. The Cardinal are 6-6-1 in their previous 13 appearances, and won last year's game 20-14 over Wisconsin.

Both Stanford and Michigan State are known for physical, low-scoring football. Michigan State has the country's No. 1 defense in various metrics, while Stanford's not far behind.

USC has appeared in the game more than any other team, with a 23-9 record in 32 appearances. Michigan is in second place with 20 appearances.

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