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What to watch for

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 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 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.

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.

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 more than 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.

– John Marshal, Associated Press

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