Running down the 35 bowl games

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:

TOP GAMES

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.

TOP PLAYERS

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.

SPONSORS

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).

ODDS

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.

DISTANCES

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.

NUMBERS

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.