The college football bowl season kicks off on Dec. 21, but the BCS action will have to wait until New Year's Day when Stanford and Michigan State lock horns in "The Granddaddy of Them All," otherwise known as the Rose Bowl.
Jan. 1's Rose Bowl Game will signal the beginning of a week of BCS bowl games, culminating with Florida State vs. Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 6.
With the BCS bowls less than two weeks away, let's get you set with everything you need to know for January's marquee showdowns.
|Jan. 1 at 5 p.m. ET||Rose Bowl Game||No. 5 Stanford vs. No. 4 Michigan State||Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.||ESPN||ESPN3.com|
|Jan. 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET||Tostitos Fiesta Bowl||No. 15 Central Florida vs. No. 6 Baylor||University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.||ESPN||ESPN3.com|
|Jan. 2 at 8:30 p.m. ET||Allstate Sugar Bowl||No. 11 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Alabama||Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans||ESPN||ESPN3.com|
|Jan. 3 at 8:30 p.m. ET||Discover Orange Bowl||No. 12 Clemson vs. No. 7 Ohio State||Sun Life Stadium, Miami||ESPN||ESPN3.com|
|Jan. 6 at 8:30 p.m. ET||BCS National Championship||No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 2 Auburn||Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.||ESPN||ESPN3.com|
Bowl Schedule via ESPN
Rose Bowl: Stanford (11-2) vs. Michigan State (12-1)
The beloved Rose Bowl Game will pit Pac-12 champion Stanford against Big Ten champion Michigan State.
The Cardinal beat Wisconsin in this bowl a year ago and will look to become the first team to repeat as Rose Bowl champions since USC in 2008.
But knocking off the gritty Spartans will be no easy task. Michigan State has won nine in a row and won't be lacking confidence having knocked off Ohio State its last time out.
You can expect a defensive battle to unfold in this one as both teams rank inside the top 10 nationally in scoring defense. The Spartans rank fourth-best in America, slightly ahead of Stanford, allowing just over 12 points per game in 2013.
Fiesta Bowl: Central Florida (11-1) vs. Baylor (11-1)
In what promises to be a high-scoring affair, American Conference champ Central Florida will try its luck against Big 12 champion Baylor, who leads the country in scoring offense this season, averaging more than 53 points per game.
While the Knights have proven to be a dangerous squad this season—losing by three points to South Carolina and coming from behind to beat Louisville on the road—you can expect them to have a difficult time keeping pace with Bryce Petty and the Bears.
Central Florida is averaging 33.2 points per game this season, and even if the Knights hit their average, they're likely to get blown out in Glendale.
And as NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt points out, both teams are having trouble getting their fans to buy into this matchup:
Baylor + UCF each having trouble selling their allotment of tix to Fiesta Bowl.— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) December 18, 2013
You could certainly argue that this is the least anticipated matchup of the five BCS bowls.
Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma (10-2) vs. Alabama (11-1)
Two-time defending national champion Alabama was a few bad breaks away from potentially playing for a third consecutive national crown this winter.
Unfortunately, a gut-wrenching loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl ended the Crimson Tide's memorable reign.
Now Nick Saban's squad will gear up for Oklahoma, who earned an at-large bid from the Big 12.
I know Alabama and the Sugar Bowl have a rich tradition together, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to play such a tremendous program like the University of Oklahoma. The Sugar Bowl gives us a chance to play our final game together on one of the grandest stages college football has to offer.
The Sooners' best wins this season came against Notre Dame, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. But blowout losses to Texas and Baylor raised question marks.
Unsurprisingly, Bob Stoops' team will be mighty underdogs in New Orleans.
Orange Bowl: Clemson (10-2) vs. Ohio State (12-1)
There's certainly no shame in suiting up for the Orange Bowl.
But for Ohio State, January's bowl game will be a disappointing reminder of how close they came to playing for a championship.
While the Clemson Tigers will likely be ecstatic to represent the ACC in Miami, the Buckeyes will have to regroup and turn in an impressive performance in prime time in order to earn some much-needed respect for the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes are projected to be slight favorites at kickoff and for good reason.
Ohio State boasts the nation's third-best rushing attack in terms of yardage and should have a solid advantage on the ground against Clemson's 51st-ranked run-stopping unit.
BCS National Championship: Florida State (13-0) vs. Auburn (12-1)
Which BCS bowl game are you most excited for?
The country's two best teams will meet for all the marbles on Jan. 6 in Pasadena. Per BCS executive director Bill Hancock (via USA Today's Daniel Uthman): "We've gotten the matchup everybody wants to see. We felt we'd get the two best teams, and we did."
No. 1 Florida ran the table for the first time since 1999 and won the ACC title for the second straight year.
Meanwhile, Auburn has won nine straight, including a pair of miraculous wins over Georgia and Alabama in November.
All eyes will be on Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, who became the second freshman ever to win the coveted award after throwing for more than 3,800 yards and 38 touchdowns.
It'll be up to Winston to deliver another mighty performance with the Seminoles set to square off against the nation's No. 1-ranked rushing attack in Auburn.
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