Say goodbye to the BCS Championship Game -- this year marks the last one of its kind, before college football switches to a four-team playoff system next season. In a way, it is quite fitting that the BCS is laid to rest at the Rose Bowl, home of the oldest bowl in college football.
There are, of course, no conference affiliations for this one -- the top two teams in the BCS standings will play, although the SEC has won seven consecutive titles, and nine overall. The other conferences have six between them.
This year, those two teams will be Auburn, representing the SEC, and Florida State, representing the ACC. The Tigers snuck into the game at the last hour thanks to Ohio State's Big Ten Championship loss to Michigan State (and their own win over Missouri in the SEC title game), and will look to continue their conference's dominating streak.
Date and time, ET: Jan. 6, 2014
TV channel: ESPN
Location: Pasadena, Calif.
Stadium: Rose Bowl (94,392)
Tickets: Find available seats here.
Last year's score: Alabama 42, Notre Dame 14
Last year's attendance: 80,120
Last year's TV rating: 17.5 (26.4 million viewers)
Last year's payout for each school: $18 million
Team with the most all-time appearances: Oklahoma, with four.
Team with the most all-time wins: Alabama, with three.
Florida State (13-0, 8-0 ACC)
Although the Seminoles have been short on quality opponents this year, they have demolished anything and everything in their path, winning every game by at least two scores on their way to an undefeated regular season. For that, they have clearly earned the right to play for a BCS Championship. The statistics are jaw-dropping as well -- Florida State ranked second in the country in regular season scoring offense with a 53.7 point average, while only allowing 11.0 of their own. Perhaps more simply put, the Seminoles regularly outscored teams by a margin of 42.7 points. Compare that mind-boggling figure with Arizona State’s offense, which ranks eighth in the country at an average of 43.3 points per game.
Beyond Heisman hopeful Jameis Winston, this Florida State team is talented all over -- Devonta Freeman, James Wilder Jr. and Karlos Williams all ran for over 500 yards this year, and they have three receivers with over 800 yards apiece as well. Those numbers, while relatively pedestrian, become more impressive when you realize that the Seminoles have rarely played their starters in the second half this season. On defense, Florida State lost six players to the NFL draft last year, but remain dominant there, as well, with Lamarcus Joyner (60 tackles, 5 sacks, 3 fumbles forced) helping to lead the way.
Last bowl game: 2013 Orange Bowl vs. Northern Illinois, 31-10 win
Last year without a bowl: 1981
All-time bowl record: 25-14-2
Head coach's bowl record: Jimbo Fisher, 3-0
Auburn (12-1, 7-1 SEC)
Gus Malzahn orchestrated one of the greatest turnarounds in college football history this season, taking an Auburn team that went 3-9 last year (with an 0-8 record in SEC play) and winning the SEC championship in his first year on the job. Close early season wins against Washington State and Mississippi State kept expectations to a minimum at the beginning of the year, and a two-score loss to LSU only fed in to that thought.
The Tigers first got on the national radar with an eight-point win over then-No. 24 Ole Miss, and cemented their place as an SEC contender two weeks later with a road win over Texas A&M. After three easy wins over unranked opponents, the Tigers ended the season with wins over No. 25 Georgia and No. 1 Alabama in two of the wildest endings you’ll ever see, before defeating No. 5 Missouri in the SEC Championship Game.
Auburn’s run-first attack is led by quarterback Nick Marshall, who scored more than 20 total touchdowns this season. Workhorse back Tre Mason had over 300 rushing yards against Missouri with four touchdowns, and will see a lot of looks out of the backfield.
Last bowl game: 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl vs. Virginia, 43-24 win
All-time bowl record: 22-13-2
Head coach's bowl record: Gus Malzahn, 0-0