There's never been a better time to be a college football fan. And if you subscribe to Time Warner or AT&T U-verse and are in the Central Ohio area, your 2014 BCS Championship Game viewing options are nearly limitless.
Whether you're trying to figure out how to watch the game online because your TV (god forbid, right?) is tied up or you just want to maximize your second (or heck, third, fourth, and fifth) screen viewing options to really do the national championship right, let's start with ESPN's 'Megacast'.
ESPN (Channel 1301, Time Warner Columbus) will feature the traditional broadcast. You'll get Brent Musburger, former Ohio State captain Kirk Herbstreit, Heather Cox and Tom Rinaldi on the sidelines, and you'll pretty much have to like it (or at worst, stomach it). But if you really want to live dangerously, flip on over to ESPN2 (Channel 1302) for the most pop culture centric broadcast you'll get anywhere.
ESPN2 (Channel 1302) will be airing something called "BCS Title Talk", that'll feature the game, but it'll also feature all kinds of guest analysts, co-hosts, college football coaches, and yes, for whatever reason, even celebrities. Former Urban Meyer QB Tim Tebow (who's inexplicably been kind of a solid analyst so far in the early BCS pregame coverage), will join in, along with Texas A&M quarterback (and likely 2014 NFL Draft first round pick) Johnny Manziel, Clemson quarterback (and breaker of Ohio State hearts) Tajh Boyd, newly minted USC coach Steve Sarkisian, Vanderbilt coach (and possibly the next head coach at Penn State) James Franklin, rapper Snoop Dogg and singer-songwriter (and Ohio State fan) John Legend are amongst those expected.
For the Football Study Hall types amongst us, ESPNEWS (Channel 1305) is likely your best bet. ESPNEWS will be airing "BCS Film Room," a deep dive, in-depth X&O-centric broadcast with All-22 like angles and folks including B.C. head coach (and former Urban Meyer offensive line coahc/OC) Steve Addazio.
ESPN Classic (while only SD) (Channel 304) will be kind of cool in its own right: the broadcast will feature just the game with no announcers and actual Rose Bowl stadium noise/public-address sounds. If you ever wanted to really mute Herbie and co., good news! If you don't care about an HD picture, you can.
If you're fortunate enough to have ESPN Goal Line (Channel 1306) like the folks in Columbus, you'll get to watch a "BCS Command Center" style approach that will showcase a split-screen of the game along with instant instant replays of every play with the ESPN Radio broadcast overlaid along with a matrix of stats surrounding the picture.
Finally, if you've got an XBOX One, XBOX 360, Roku, iOS device or Android device, on ESPN3, you'll be able to catch Auburn and Florida State's home broadcasts. That crazy "Punt 6" call's homer tastic announcement? You can watch the entire game and hear his call of it. Florida State's will surely add some local flavor as well.
Rankings and records: This one's pretty straight forward. #1 Florida State? 13-0, they handedly dismissed Duke in the ACC Championship Game, 45-7. Auburn? Well, they're the hot team du jour, checking in at #2, 12-1, winners of a wild, high scoring SEC Championship Game against Missouri, 59-42. They won on two batshit crazy plays against Georgia and Alabama to get this far, and their defense is insanely suspect. Basically think Ohio State with slightly worse recruits but from a stronger conference and with a locker room ostensibly full of rabbit's feet.
Odds: Courtesy of Friends of the Holy Land, Odds Shark, Florida State are now 10.5-point favorites in tonight's title bout. The over/under for this one is 68.
Weather: While Columbus (and the rest of the midwest/northeast) is frozen, it's perfect in California (h8 u guys, so much). It'll get California-chilly, at around 58 degrees at kick (clear skies, with winds less than 3 mph) and probably be closer to 50 by the time things go final. Basically Columbus in May.
Three names to know
Tre Mason, Auburn RB. His dad was in De La Soul. What else do you need to know? The Tigers' tailback finished sixth in Heisman voting after coming on strong late. He carried the ball 46 times for 304 yards en route to the SECCG victory and also rushed for 164 yards against Alabama and gained a school record 2137 all-purpose yards on the season.
Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State CB. Technically you (well at least those of you that closely follow recruiting) know the name. Instead of Ohio State, Joyner wound up at FSU, where he was a Thorpe award finalist this year before narrowly losing to MSU's Darqueze Dennard. Joyner's a hell of a cover corner in his own right, however, and could force the Auburn offense to focus on the other side of the field early and often (or more likely, particularly given that QB Nick Marshall isn't the most steadfast passer in the world, to heavily emphasize the run game, screens, and short dump off passes to put Auburn's players in space).
Nick O'Leary, Florida State, TE. In fairness, you know this one, too. The grandson of Ohio State legend Jack Nicklaus, a number of Buckeye partisans were banking on O'Leary ending up a Buckeye, but after scorning OSU, he wound up giving a Marcus Hall-esque salute on an ESPN nationally televised game in Columbus in the Horseshoe to players from Ted Ginn Sr's Glenville Tarblooders (which have produced plenty of Buckeyes over the year). He was also in a crazy motorcycle accident that he inexplicably walked away from. Kid can play, to boot.
Two things at stake
Florida State, in one sense, isn't just playing for the right to be fully "back"; they're playing to get the collective monkey off the back of the rest of the country that is SEC group think. Few other conferences validate themselves as a singular hive mind the way (hi Kentucky, Arkansas football fans) the SEC has, and just about all general (not strictly OSU allegiance bearing) college football fans would love to see this come to an end, or at worst tempered/checked.
Auburn, on the other hand is #TeamNarrative tonight. Though 'narrative' has been bastardized by scorn SEC analogues in the Big Ten, Pac-12, and unimaginative national outlet types to mean something it doesn't truly (e.g. an even broader trope than the actual one encompassing all things they don't like and/or are jealous of), there is, in fact, a (somewhat merited) recent SEC success actual narrative that would be quite furthered by an eighth straight college football national championship, in the final year of the BCS no less. Gus Malzahn would also give hope to every fan base in the world that they're one fired head coach away from a national title. Welp.
How to watch
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET on basically every ESPN property under the sun.
Location: Pasadena, CA
Stadium: Rose Bowl, 94,392
Last year's score: Alabama 42, Notre Dame 14
Last year's attendance: 80,120 (at Sun Life Stadium)
Last year's TV rating: 17.5 (26.4 million viewers)
Last year's payout for each school: $18,000,000 (to each school's conference).
Team with the most all-time appearances: Oklahoma, 1-3
Team with the most all-time wins: Alabama, 3-0.