This is it, the final go-round for the BCS. The much-maligned system for determining college football’s national champion will be mothballed after this season, replaced by a four-team playoff next season.
As finales go, it’s hard to argue too much about the final title-game participants. Florida State was the only major-conference team to finish undefeated and Auburn had the best resume of the one-loss teams.
That’s the big one, but of course there are 34 other bowls, starting with four on Saturday, that will feature plenty of other good teams, star players and interesting match-ups.
To get you ready, we’ve got a rundown of what to look for:
BCS National Championship, Florida State vs. Auburn, Jan. 6, Pasadena, Calif. Duh.
Sugar Bowl, Alabama vs. Oklahoma, Jan. 2, New Orleans. Two storied programs that fell short of their national-title aspirations are still pretty good.
Orange Bowl, Ohio State vs. Clemson, Jan. 3, Miami. Teams that are a combined 45-5 since the start of last season and among the highest-scoring in college football.
Rose Bowl, Stanford vs. Michigan State, Jan. 1, Pasadena, Calif. If you like smash-mouth, defensive-minded football, this is your game.
AdvoCare V100 Bowl, Arizona vs. Boston College, Dec. 31, Shreveport, La. So what’s so exciting about two 7-5 teams? Two All-American running backs going at each other: Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey and BC’s Andre Williams.
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State. Won the Heisman Trophy, playing for a national championship. Not a bad freshman season.
AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama. There will be no three-peat as national champion, but he’s been as good a college quarterback as we’ve seen in a while.
C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama. Collects tackles like baseball cards.
Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona. Second nationally in yards per game, runs like he’s trying to punish defenders for daring to tackle him.
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M. Last year’s Heisman winner could be making his last hurrah in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl against Duke.
Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State. Arguably the most disruptive interior lineman in the country.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State. All-American can turn the simplest of routes into a score.
Food is king among bowl sponsors for the third straight season. The 2013-14 bowl season includes seven bowls with food affiliations, from potatoes to pizza to wild wings.
Second on the list are financial companies with six and auto-related companies are third with five.
This year’s bowl lineup also includes a helicopter company, a university, a defense contractor, a department store and a cause (Fight Hunger).
The folks at Glantz-Culver have made Florida State a decided favorite over Auburn in the national championship game at 8 1-2 points.
In the other bowls, the biggest spread is the Fiesta Bowl, where Baylor is a 16 1-2-point favorite over Central Florida. Right behind is the Pinstripe Bowl, with Notre Dame giving away 15 1-2 points to Rutgers. Alabama also is a 15-point favorite over Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.
Tightest odds? San Diego State and Buffalo are a pick `em in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and three other bowls — Cotton, New Orleans and Capital One – all have 1-point spreads.
Florida State and Auburn will have to make quite a road trip to play for the final BCS championship despite being about 200 miles apart.
The Seminoles will cover about 2,200 miles to get to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., and the Tigers have a trip of roughly 2,100 miles to get there.
That’s still not the longest road trip to a bowl. That distinction belongs to Boise State, which will travel about 2,800 miles to play Oregon State in the Hawaii Bowl. Central Florida also has a long trip ahead of it before the Fiesta Bowl, needing to go over 2,100 miles to get from Orlando to Glendale, Ariz.
Tulane has the shortest trip, staying in New Orleans for its bowl, but its opponent, Louisiana-Lafayette, doesn’t exactly have to go far, traveling about 130 miles for the New Orleans Bowl. Rutgers has a short trip over about 45 minutes across the Hudson River – depending on traffic – for the Pinstripe Bowl against Notre Dame and Maryland should be able to get to the Military Bowl in Annapolis in about a half hour. North Texas has a similar drive to play in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
2–Female officials (Sarah Thomas and Maia Chaka) working the Fight Hunger Bowl, a first for an FBS game.
13–Years since UNLV played in a bowl game. The Rebels will face North Texas in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
56–Years since Rice had won an outright conference title before taking the Conference USA championship this season.
624.5–Yards of offense per game by Baylor, most in the nation this season by over 50 yards and second-most all-time to the 624.9 by Houston in 1989.
4,866–Passing yards by Fresno State’s Derek Carr, which led the nation.
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