The final BCS rankings are out, and soon we can move on to greener pastures of playoff football -- not that there won't still be controversy. This year the BCS gives us a relatively clean championship matchup between undefeated ACC champion Florida State and one-loss SEC champion Auburn after Ohio State's loss to Michigan State, but as always there's a long break between now and the showdown between the Seminoles and Tigers.

Fortunately, the bowl schedule to fill the time continues to be as comprehensive as ever. With 35 games between Dec. 21 and the title game on Jan. 6, there's a lot to look forward to, and as always the most entertaining games can come from the most unexpected places. To prepare you for bowl season, here's your guide to something to watch in all 35 games, ranked by watchability (importance, entertainment value, etc.), with early predictions for each.

*All rankings from the BCS standings

1. BCS National Championship
No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 2 Auburn

Jan. 6, Pasadena, Calif.

With apologies to the Big Ten, this really is one of the most appealing BCS title matchups we've seen, on paper at least, with Florida State's incredible depth and talent, centered around likely Heisman winner Jameis Winston, meeting a miracle-working Auburn team that rebounded from a winless SEC season to develop the nation's best running game under Gus Malzahn, Nick Marshall and Tre Mason. Florida State has yet to be challenged, blowing away Clemson, Miami and Duke in its biggest games, while Auburn has made a habit of pulling off astonishing escapes against quality opponents. Betting against Auburn almost seems foolish at this point, but then again the way to stop something that appears to be a team of destiny is to be the most talented team in college football.

Pick: Florida State

2. Rose Bowl
No. 4 Michigan State vs. No. 5 Stanford

Jan. 1, Pasadena, Calif.

What Woody and Bo would want, minus the presence of the Spartans in their first Rose Bowl since the 1987 season. These are two of the most physical teams in the country, built around tough, talented defenses with some of the nation's best players at every position. By the numbers, Michigan State is better defensively, but Stanford leads the nation in sacks and will provide a steep test of Spartans QB Connor Cook's development. Expect low scoring, expect lots of hitting and expect the opposite of Missouri-Auburn.

Pick: Stanford

3. Orange Bowl
No. 12 Clemson vs. No. 7 Ohio State

Jan. 3, Miami

Obviously, this is not what Ohio State planned. No BCS title game, not even a Big Ten title thanks to the loss to Michigan State. But if Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes can get over that, the Orange Bowl sets up as one of the most intriguing games of the postseason. Both teams are loaded with talented playmakers, from quarterback Braxton Miller, running back Carlos Hyde and defensive end Joey Bosa of Ohio State to quarterback Tajh Boyd, receiver Sammy Watkins and defensive end Vic Beasley of Clemson. Of course, this game -- only the second ever between the two schools -- will bring to mind two things: Clemson's nightmare against West Virginia two years ago in Miami, and Woody Hayes' punch in the 1978 Gator Bowl.

Pick: Ohio State

4. Sugar Bowl
No. 3 Alabama vs. No. 11 Oklahoma

Jan. 2, New Orleans

Sorry, Oklahoma. Motivation is the only obstacle for Alabama after missing out on the BCS title game. It's not like motivation hasn't been a problem for the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl before, but Nick Saban will undoubtedly have a veteran team focused for Oklahoma, which upset rival Oklahoma State to get to Bob Stoops' ninth BCS game. While the Sooners aren't the juggernaut they occasionally were last decade, they continue to be a model for consistency. Still, they need to be that juggernaut again to really have a chance against Alabama, which can exploit the Sooners with a physical run game and the usual mistake-free defense.

Pick: Alabama

5. Fiesta Bowl
No. 6 Baylor vs. No. 15 UCF

Jan. 1, Glendale, Ariz.

With all due respect to UCF, which finished 11-1 and nearly beat South Carolina, it's a shame that Baylor wasn't able to draw a bigger-name opponent. All year Baylor's schedule was rightfully questioned, with a nonconference slate of Wofford, Buffalo and Louisiana-Monroe leaving a lot to be desired, and oddly enough, winning the Big 12 actually cost the Bears a more appealing matchup (they may have ended up in the Cotton Bowl had Oklahoma State won). Still, a BCS appearance is plenty to celebrate for a program that was down for so long, and while NFL scouts will be tuned in to watch UCF quarterback Blake Bortles, with a month to prepare and a weather-controlled environment, Baylor's offense under Art Briles should be ready to put on another show.

Pick: Baylor

6. Cotton Bowl
No. 8 Missouri vs. No. 13 Oklahoma State

Jan. 3, Arlington, Texas

The former Big 8 foes met every year from 1960 to 1997, then met occasionally in separate divisions of the Big 12 and now are reunited at the Cotton Bowl out of different conferences. Both had BCS hopes; both saw them dashed on the final Saturday of the season, Missouri losing the SEC title game to Auburn and Oklahoma State blowing its Fiesta Bowl opportunity against Oklahoma. Now we're left to see if the Mizzou defense can pick up the pieces after getting bludgeoned by Auburn's ground game. Fortunately for the Tigers, Oklahoma State averages two fewer yards per rushing attempt than Auburn. Keep an eye on a potential showdown between burgeoning star Missouri receiver Dorial Green-Beckham and lockdown Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert.

Pick: Missouri

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Johnny Manziel could be playing his college game for Texas A&M against Duke. (USA TODAY Sports)

7. Chick-fil-A Bowl
No. 24 Duke vs. No. 21 Texas A&M

Dec. 31, Atlanta

So this is not quite what Texas A&M envisioned in what is assumed to be Johnny Manziel's last college game. Not that the Chick-fil-A Bowl is a bad spot -- it'll be part of the College Football Playoff rotation beginning next year -- but the Aggies came nowhere close to a BCS bid, dropping their last two games as LSU and Missouri found a way to slow down Manziel. Duke cornerback Ross Cockrell is one of the best defenders receiver Mike Evans will have seen this season, as he tries to break out of a slump, and Duke is well coached enough to frustrate the Aggies for a bit. But ultimately it's a good opportunity for Manziel to go out on a high note. Talent wins out.

Pick: Texas A&M

8. Capital One Bowl
No. 9 South Carolina vs. No. 19 Wisconsin

Jan. 1, Orlando, Fla.

We all remember what happened the last time Jadeveon Clowney played a Big Ten team in a Florida bowl. Since the debates about his conditioning and effort died down, Clowney has been rather quiet, occasionally making some big plays but finishing the season with only three sacks and a decent 10½ tackles for loss -- putting him well off the All-America radar. Now he has one final chance to recapture positive attention as a college player before he comes off the board in the top three or so of next spring's NFL draft anyway. While Wisconsin will throw to Jared Abbrederis, playing defense against the Badgers mostly means chasing running backs James White and Melvin Gordon, although the last time we saw the Badgers they were out of sorts on both sides of the ball in a surprising home loss to Penn State. Still, the running game is capable of giving the Gamecocks plenty of trouble.

Pick: Wisconsin

9. Alamo Bowl
No. 10 Oregon vs. Texas

Dec. 30, San Antonio

As we await the fate of Mack Brown, we get to spend a few weeks wondering just how different Greg Robinson's defense is from the one that gave up 550 rushing yards to BYU in September under Manny Diaz. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota's health has been an issue in the last month, but with time off the Ducks offense should be fully prepared to take on the Longhorns defense, inside on the Alamodome artificial turf. This is hardly where Oregon wanted to end up (although, again, players weren't clamoring for the Rose Bowl either), and the loss to Arizona was especially troubling, but Texas is far too unstable to keep up with a Ducks team that has the potential to score at will.

Pick: Oregon

10. Russell Athletic Bowl
No. 18 Louisville vs. Miami

Dec. 28, Orlando, Fla.

Pay close attention, Texans and Jaguars fans: This is the last chance to watch Teddy Bridgewater before he becomes the savior of one of your franchises. Louisville's lousy schedule, combined with its loss to UCF, took it out of the national consciousness for most of the season, but Bridgewater still had a brilliant year, completing 70 percent of his passes for 3,523 yards with 28 touchdowns and four picks. He also pulled off one of the most improbable plays of the year against Cincinnati.

Pick: Louisville

11. Outback Bowl
No. 16 LSU vs. Iowa

Jan. 1, Tampa, Fla.

They have met only once, also in Florida on New Year's, in a 2005 Capital One Bowl that featured one of the most memorable bowl finishes in recent history. Yes, avert your eyes LSU folks, because this will be playing on loop for the next month:

This time, LSU faces Iowa with an eye to the future. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger tore his ACL in the Black Friday win over Arkansas, meaning freshman Anthony Jennings -- who led the game-winning drive vs. the Razorbacks -- will make his first of what could be many starts for the Tigers.

Pick: LSU

12. Las Vegas Bowl
No. 20 Fresno State vs. No. 25 USC

Dec. 21, Las Vegas

Lane Kiffin's alma mater against Lane Kiffin's former team. The Trojans are on their second interim coach of the season, with a frustrated Ed Orgeron resigning following the hiring of Steve Sarkisian. Offensive coordinator Clay Helton, who looked a lot better once Kiffin left, takes over for an interesting bowl matchup that sees Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr facing his biggest defensive test of the season, although it will be without the well-liked Orgeron patrolling the sidelines.

Pick: USC

13. Sun Bowl
No. 17 UCLA vs. Virginia Tech

Dec. 31, El Paso, Texas

Remember back in August when Virginia Tech's defensive front manhandled Alabama's rebuilt offensive line? UCLA may be the better team overall, but the Bruins offense could be dragged down to the Hokies' level if the O-line doesn't get better in a hurry. UCLA finished 11th in the Pac-12 in sacks allowed per game, while despite the team's struggles as a whole, Virginia Tech's defense has been strong most of the season, ranking fourth nationally in yards per play allowed and fifth in sacks per game. Brett Hundley has been hit a lot in his two seasons as starter, and that probably won't change against a deep Hokies defense. Of course, as always the question is whether Virginia Tech's offense can avoid mistakes, consistently move the ball and actually keep up.

Pick: Virginia Tech

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Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey averages nearly 30 carries and 156 yards per game. (USA TODAY Sports)

14. AdvoCare V100 Bowl
Boston College vs. Arizona

Dec. 31, Shreveport, La.

Whoever from Tucson and Boston actually decides to travel to Shreveport for New Year's Eve will be treated to a game that could feature the most combined carries by starting running backs ever. In an age of running back rotations, Boston College's Andre Williams and Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey lead the nation in attempts, with Williams running 329 times for 2,102 yards in 12 games and Carey 322 times for 1,716 yards in 11. Each has a game with at least 40 carries, and in the last two seasons each has had a 300-yard game. If we can somehow get another Shreveport snowstorm, it's possible neither team will pass.

Pick: Arizona

15. Gator Bowl
No. 22 Georgia vs. Nebraska

Jan. 1, Jacksonville, Fla.

Normally, this would be one of the more appealing matchups, with two historic powers on New Year's Day, etc. But nobody wants to see it this year. It's a rematch of last year's Capital One Bowl, a fairly entertaining game in which Georgia turned a third-quarter deficit into a 45-31 win, but a rematch nonetheless, in a lesser bowl. Both Aaron Murray and Taylor Martinez are injured, both teams have four losses and not only has Georgia seen Nebraska recently, but as always it has already played in Jacksonville this year, against Florida. The good news is that any game with Todd Gurley and Ameer Abdullah running the ball isn't a total loss.

Pick: Nebraska

16. Fight Hunger Bowl
BYU vs. Washington

Dec. 27, San Francisco

Washington has already had a successful December by upgrading its head coaching position despite losing its former coach to USC. Chris Petersen will replace Steve Sarkisian, and in news that will make you feel old, quarterbacks coach Marques Tuiasosopo is acting as Washington's interim bowl coach. Both teams like to push the tempo, ranking among the top 15 in total plays, but the most appealing matchup is the showdown between steady inside runner Bishop Sankey of Washington and one-man wrecking crew Kyle Van Noy at linebacker for BYU.

Pick: Washington

17. Holiday Bowl
No. 14 Arizona State vs. Texas Tech

Dec. 30, San Diego

Neither team comes into San Diego on a high note. Arizona State was on a roll, but for the second time this season the Sun Devils were steamrolled by Stanford, ending their Rose Bowl dreams. Even worse, Texas Tech has lost five in a row since starting 7-0, its weak defense getting exposed against the better teams in the Big 12. In other words, Texas Tech is not Stanford; it's the exact type of team Arizona State is capable of exploiting.

Pick: Arizona State

18. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Michigan vs. Kansas State

Dec. 28, Tempe, Ariz.

It's odd that Michigan ended up here instead of the Gator Bowl, but either way it continues a food-themed bowl descent from Brady Hoke, who has gone from the Sugar to the Outback to the Buffalo Wild Wings in three seasons. The food trend points to a Beef 'O' Brady's or Little Caesars Bowl next year, but let's not go that far. Michigan finally showed against Ohio State that it is, in fact, capable of scoring points with its talented weapons on offense, but the Wolverines are also among the most erratic teams in college football -- a word that will never be used to describe Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, whose team did exactly what was expected in a rebuilding year. The Wildcats beat the five teams below them in the Big 12, and they lost to the four teams above them. Which Michigan will show up?

Pick: Kansas State

19. Belk Bowl
Cincinnati vs. North Carolina

Dec. 28, Charlotte, N.C.

The joy of bowl season is that interesting games happen in the most random places. Last year, Cincinnati went to the Belk Bowl to face Duke and the following things entertained us (on top of the BELK name): Duke went up 16-0 in the first quarter with the help of a blocked punt recovered for a touchdown, Cincinnati scored 27 straight points, the game was tied at 34 with seven minutes left, Cincinnati went ahead on an 83-yard touchdown pass with 44 seconds left, and then returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown to win 48-34. Now the Bearcats return to face Duke's rival, North Carolina, in a game we can only hope provides half as much entertainment as last year's Belk Bowl.

Pick: North Carolina

20. Hawaii Bowl
Boise State vs. Oregon State

Dec. 24, Honolulu

Let's give annual thanks to the Hawaii Bowl for providing Christmas Eve football in tropical weather, and this year for bringing together a rather intriguing matchup for this sort of lower-tier bowl. The game is not without its flaws, of course: Oregon State tanked against a tough second-half schedule, losing five in a row, while Boise State at 8-4 has its worst record in years and is playing without injured QB Joe Southwick and departed head coach Chris Petersen. Still, Boise State in a bowl game is always an attractive option, and it's a nice opportunity for the prolific Sean Mannion-to-Brandin Cooks combination to recapture some of the success from the first half of the season.

Pick: Oregon State

21. Music City Bowl
Ole Miss vs. Georgia Tech

Dec. 30, Nashville, Tenn.

Exactly the type of OK but middling bowl matchup you'd expect here: Both the Rebels and Yellow Jackets are 7-5 and coming off disappointing overtime losses to their in-state rivals. Georgia Tech, as always, will run as much as possible out of the option, and it will hope that star defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu can continue a hot streak that has seen him record multiple sacks in four straight games against FBS opponents. But it's also odd to say that Georgia Tech's most notable win this season is over Duke. Ole Miss is still maturing, but its developing young talent can win the day here.

Pick: Ole Miss

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Tommy Rees has a chance to go out on a high note against a struggling Rutgers defense. (USA TODAY Sports)

22. Pinstripe Bowl
Notre Dame vs. Rutgers

Dec. 28, New York

The Pinstripe Bowl lucked out in having one of its partners, the Big 12, fail to generate enough bowl-eligible teams. So instead of, say, Kansas State coming to New York, the game gets independent Notre Dame and college football's most national fanbase, plus a local team in Rutgers. Of course, while Rutgers is a short trip away and was brought in by the Big Ten because of its market, it's possible Notre Dame fans will outnumber Rutgers fans at Yankee Stadium. It's hardly Miami and the national championship, but the result should be a lot better for the Irish against a mess of a Rutgers defense.

Pick: Notre Dame

23. New Mexico Bowl
Colorado State vs. Washington State

Dec. 21, Albuquerque, N.M.

Mike Leach has successfully erased most doubts that may have existed in a rough transition year, getting Wazzu to its first bowl game since the 2003 Holiday Bowl. Styles do clash a bit here, as while Colorado State isn't totally run-first, Kapri Bibbs has had a couple ridiculous games running the ball, going for 603 yards on 68 carries in two games against Nevada and New Mexico in November. To compare, Washington State finished dead last in rushing nationally, with a total of 704 yards in 12 games as Leach aired it out, per usual.

Pick: Washington State

24. Poinsettia Bowl
No. 23 Northern Illinois vs. Utah State

Dec. 26, San Diego

Like the Mountain West title game in which Fresno State hung on to beat Utah State, it's a shame that Aggies quarterback Chuckie Keeton went down with an injury in October, as this could have matched two of the most dynamic quarterbacks in college football. Still, Utah State can challenge Jordan Lynch with its defense, which frustrated Derek Carr and ranks seventh in yards per play allowed. It's certainly a disappointing turn of events for Northern Illinois, which had Fiesta Bowl hopes, and the Aggies may do enough to frustrate Lynch in his final college game and pull out a win.

Pick: Utah State

25. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Buffalo vs. San Diego State

Dec. 21, Boise, Idaho

A consistent candidate for best bowl name, from the days of the Crucial.com Humanitarian Bowl to the Famous Idaho Potato name of tdoay. For two non-major teams, it could actually be a great matchup, with one of the nation's best defensive players, Khalil Mack, leading Buffalo against a San Diego State team that played well after a lousy September … until a surprising season-ending blowout at the hands of UNLV.

Pick: Buffalo

26. Texas Bowl
Syracuse vs. Minnesota

Dec. 27, Houston

It's Minnesota's second straight bowl trip to Houston, where it hopes it can avoid another heartbreaking defeat after Texas Tech scored 10 points in the last 1:10 to beat the Golden Gophers 34-31 last year. This is a better Minnesota team, though, and a lesser opponent in Syracuse. The Orange has been one of the most anonymous teams in college football this season, but the closing win over Boston College was solid, at least, to get to bowl eligibility. Despite losing its last two, however, Minnesota has been the stronger team.

Pick: Minnesota

27. Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl
East Carolina vs. Ohio

Dec. 23, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Everybody's favorite lower-tier bowl played in an ugly baseball stadium and named after a bland restaurant chain. On paper this looks like a mismatch in East Carolina's favor, as Ohio's only MAC wins came against the league's worst teams, but then again the Bobcats also beat Marshall, the champion of East Carolina's Conference USA division. Given the presence of the nation's No. 10 scoring offense and a MAC team, I'll just assume it's going to go to six overtimes and be the most thrilling bowl game of the year.

Pick: East Carolina

28. BBVA Compass Bowl
Houston vs. Vanderbilt

Jan. 4, Birmingham, Ala.

I'm sorry, but it's just not the same. It is not a BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham in January without the Pitt Panthers, who trekked to cavernous Legion Field for three straight appearances, beating Kentucky and losing to SMU and Ole Miss. But Pitt moved on to the ACC -- probably to escape the possibility of returning to this game -- and thus we're left with Houston against a slighted Vanderbilt team that got passed over by the rest of the SEC's bowl tie-ins despite an 8-4 record.

Pick: Houston

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Pittsburgh defensive lineman Aaron Donald leads the nation with 26.5 tackles for loss. (USA TODAY Sports)

29. Little Caesars Bowl
Bowling Green vs. Pittsburgh

Dec. 26, Detroit

Pitt's reward for avoiding Birmingham? Detroit against a MAC team. Of course, for how familiar Pitt was with Birmingham, Bowling Green will play its second straight game at Ford Field after taking down Northern Illinois in the MAC title game. It's possible Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald could win this game by himself, and it's possible Bowling Green could lose coach Dave Clawson before the game, but the Falcons still may actually be the more complete team.

Pick: Bowling Green

30. Liberty Bowl
Rice vs. Mississippi State

Dec. 31, Memphis, Tenn.

The Bulldogs pulled off an impressive upset of Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving, getting them to bowl eligibility and their fourth postseason in a row under Dan Mullen. Rice, meanwhile, easily disposed of Marshall to win the Conference USA title en route to its first back-to-back bowl games since 1960-61. Conference USA's Tulsa did beat Iowa State in this game last year, and it's the type of bowl matchup that can catch a mediocre AQ-conference team off guard, but the Bulldogs could be a little better than their record shows: They lost six games, but those came against a brutal schedule, featuring Oklahoma State, Auburn, LSU, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Alabama.

Pick: Mississippi State

31. Military Bowl
Marshall vs. Maryland

Dec. 27, Annapolis, Md.

Wisely, the Military Bowl moved from the guaranteed empty seats of RFK Stadium to the cozier and more appealing confines of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. It helps that the game drew local teams this year too, with Maryland making its first bowl appearance under Randy Edsall and Marshall taking aim at its first 10-win season since 2002.

Pick: Maryland

32. Armed Forces Bowl
Navy vs. Middle Tennessee

Dec. 30, Fort Worth, Texas

The Blue Raiders are on a roll, finishing 8-4 thanks to a five-game winning streak to end the regular season, but now they face the challenge of defending Navy's triple option. The Midshipmen run nearly 60 times per game, and the Blue Raiders defense has given up 299 or more rushing yards three times, to BYU, North Texas and UAB.

Pick: Navy

33. New Orleans Bowl
UL Lafayette vs. Tulane

Dec. 21, New Orleans

The reward for Tulane's first winning season since 2002? A bowl game at home in the Superdome, which on average they fill just more than a quarter of the way, according to official numbers. While located in the same state, this is only the second matchup between the Ragin' Cajuns and Green Wave since 2000, with UL Lafayette winning 41-13 last season. However, Tulane has clearly found its footing under Curtis Johnson (who earned a new contract), while ULL, despite winning the Sun Belt and the last two New Orleans Bowls, faces current uncertainty thanks to an injury to quarterback Terrance Broadway.

Pick: Tulane

34. GoDaddy Bowl
Arkansas State vs. Ball State

Jan. 5, Mobile, Ala.

In case you weren't excited enough for the second-to-last game of the season, Ball State's PR team is fortunately here to help:

The Cardinals are the better team, led by one of the nation's leading passers in Keith Wenning (3,933 yards) and two 1,000-yard receivers, Willie Snead and Jordan Williams. Arkansas State shared the Sun Belt title, but the Red Wolves were also blown out by Memphis in September.

Pick: Ball State

35. Heart of Dallas Bowl
North Texas vs. UNLV

Jan. 1, Dallas

New Year's in the Cotton Bowl stadium isn't quite what it used to be. The good news in Dallas is that the game gets a local flavor, with the Mean Green of nearby Denton coming from 45 miles up the road for their first non-New Orleans Bowl since 1959. They had floundered for much of the last decade since a dominant stretch in the Sun Belt in which they went to New Orleans four straight years, but now in their first Conference USA season, Dan McCarney has them bowling against a UNLV team ending a long drought of its own. Possibly on the hot seat after three straight two-win seasons, Bobby Hauck got the Rebels to 7-5, their first bowl since 2000 and only their third season with more than two wins since 2003.

Pick: North Texas