Business of college football: 5 things to know about the final BCS matchups
Bowl Championship Series matchups are often as much about business as football.
It's one of the reasons why so many fans are glad the BCS goes away after this season. Warning: The College Football Playoff will have some of the same qualities. In fact, before the new system even started, it had an impact on the old system.
Five things to know about the last BCS matchups:
1) Championship game: No. 1 Florida State (13-0) vs. No. 2 Auburn (12-1).
As BCS executive director Bill Hancock loves to say, the BCS got it right. Unlike past title games, there is no controversy about this matchup. The Seminoles have been historically dominant and have a chance to become the third major college team to win each of its games by at least 14 points. The Tigers have had a wild ride and plenty of close calls, but they won the best conference and have steadily improved this season. Florida State opens as an 8 1/2-point favorite.
2) Rose Bowl: No. 5 Stanford (11-2) vs. No. 4 Michigan State (12-1).
Old-school Rose Bowl. The Pac-12 champion vs. the Big Ten champion. The weather will be perfect. The sun will set on the San Gabriel Mountains. For about four hours, all will be right with Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany's world.
3) Orange Bowl: No. 12 Clemson (10-2) vs. No. 7 Ohio State (12-1).
The Buckeyes blew a chance to play Florida State for the national title, but found a soft landing spot in South Florida. Clemson might seem like an odd pick, considering its losses to Florida State and South Carolina. But Clemson plays in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and the ACC and Orange Bowl have a lucrative agreement in the new postseason system. The deal that keeps the Orange Bowl relevant. Orange Bowl officials were going to respect that relationship, and happily match the Tigers with one of college football's most popular powerhouse programs.
4) Sugar Bowl: No. 4 Alabama (11-1) vs. No. 11 Oklahoma (10-2).
Next season the Sugar Bowl becomes to the Southeastern Conference and Big 12 what the Rose Bowl is to the Big Ten and Pac-12. Those leagues will send their champions or another highly ranked team to New Orleans any year the Sugar Bowl does not host a national semifinal. It's a really good deal for the Sugar Bowl. Taking Alabama was an obvious pick to replace SEC champion Auburn. Sugar Bowl organizers could have made the Crimson Tide-Oregon matchup that fans have been craving, but instead they went with the Sooners, much to the delight of their Big 12 partners.
5) Fiesta Bowl: No. 6 Baylor (11-1) vs. No. 15 UCF (11-1).
Baylor makes its first BCS appearance by winning the Big 12. UCF is the final beneficiary of the Big East's automatic bid to the BCS. The Big East is no more, whittled away by conference realignment and renamed the American Athletic Conference. In the college football playoff, the American will compete with the Mountain West, Conference USA, the Sun Belt and the Mid-American Conference for one guaranteed spot in what will be six marquee bowl games two semifinals and four New Year's games. The Knights are a good team, but without much of a following. But they were guaranteed a spot and Fiesta organizers had the last choice, so think of this as sort of a prearranged marriage.