Alabama’s trip to Texas A&M on Saturdaywill be the biggest college football game of the season.
No, it’s bigger than that. It’s the Game of the Century! Check that, we need more caps and exclamation points: IT’S THE BIGGEST GAME EVER!!!
Has to be, right?
I mean, why else would CBS give us a camera solely dedicated to every move made by Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel for the broadcast (3:30 p.m., WRAL)?
And why did Alabama coach Nick Saban put a replay of last year’s 29-24 loss to Manziel and the Aggies on an endless loop in the Crimson Tide’s weight room this summer?
And no less an authority than Forbes magazine has dubbed it “the most expensive regular-season college football game ever.” Without a hint of humility, the magazine then qualifies that claim as “at least since we’ve been tracking the market over the last four years.”
Well, I mean, it is universally accepted that four years is forever.
Don’t get me wrong, there are truly wonderful subplots to this game: Manziel vs. the country’s best defense, Saban vs. The Spread. But let me ask a simple question: Will the result of the game actually matter?
This game won Manziel the Heisman last season and effectively created the legend of “Johnny Football,” no argument there.
But what did the loss mean to Alabama’s title hopes? Nothing.
Texas A&M beat Alabama last year, in Tuscaloosa no less, and the Crimson Tide still went on to win the SEC West, then the SEC title game and then outclassed Notre Dame in the BCS title game for Saban’s third title in four years.
Props to the SEC and their recent dominance of college football, but here’s a stat for you: In the past 50 years, just six AP national championship teams suffered a home loss during their title season.
Yet, that has happened four times in the past six years – all by SEC teams, and it should be noted, to SEC teams.
So if Alabama loses again today, so what? Is there another loss on the Tide’s schedule before the SEC title game? Maybe LSU (on Nov. 9 at Alabama) could beat Saban again on the road, as it did in 2011.
I’d run through the scenarios for Texas A&M winning, but the chances of repeating last year’s upset are as long as the list of detractors for Manziel. For starters, the Aggies’ defense gave up 31 points to Rice in the opener. That doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence vs. the Tide.
Second, there’s no sneaking up on Alabama this season. Manziel – from the Heisman, to hanging out with LeBron James, to carousing at the Manning Camp, to the Great Autograph Caper of ’13 – is more than a known quantity. He’s the face of college football (for better or worse).
Last year, Texas A&M fell on Alabama’s schedule the week after an emotional road win against LSU. The Tide, likely with the SEC’s blessing, got the week off before this year’s game (and, coincidentally, has another week off before LSU’s visit in November).
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying today’s game. Root for Manziel to slay the monster (again) or for Saban’s group to serve the punky QB his comeuppance.
Given all that’s wrong with college football, there should at least be a payoff for the fans with the onfield product.
But don’t be surprised if December rolls around and this game doesn’t factor into the national title race.