If the rest of the regular season and conference championship games play to form, Alabama and Notre Dame will meet up in Miami come early January to vie for that wonderful (and breakable) crystal ball.
This, of course, is a gargantuan “if,” and the chaos we watched unfold in Week 12 demonstrates that we should expect the unexpected. For being only a few feet away from the finish line, this is all far from decided, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Well, unless you're a Notre Dame or Alabama fan.
But, if Notre Dame beats Matt Barkley-less USC, and if Alabama takes down Auburn and then Georgia in the SEC championship, this is the final showcase we’ll be treated to. I suppose “treated to” isn’t the terminology every college football fan would use to depict this game, as many will disapprove of the participants.
And that’s exactly why I hope it ends up falling into place.
It’s nothing personal, Georgia fans, and to the devoted Florida, Oregon, Kansas State (and whatever else team you think still has an outside shot but really doesn’t) supporters, don’t take this the wrong way. My own selfish desires for this matchup stretch well beyond seeing the two “best” teams meet up in the championship.
In fact, the oddsmakers don’t believe we’ll be getting that if this scenario becomes a reality.
The Las Vegas Wynn is already accepting wagers on this game, and Alabama is currently listed as a nine-point favorite over the Irish. This could change, of course, but the shrewd bookmakers huddled deep within the Vegas cathedrals don’t envision much of a game in the big game.
Las Vegas Wynn sportsbook posts lines on potential BCS title game matchups: Alabama -9 vs. Notre Dame, Georgia -1 vs. Notre Dame,— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) November 20, 2012
Although the point spread is by no means indicative of how the game will play out, the potential money wagered gives you an idea of just what kind of interest it will draw. You don’t need numbers to know that football giants such as these will create a stir, although these numbers could be jaw-dropping.
RJ Bell of Pregame.com estimates that more than $2 billion would be wagered worldwide on this game, destroying any previous highs that we’ve seen for a single game on the college level. Although the money invested doesn’t guarantee solid entertainment, it does give you an idea of the buzz that will be generated.
It’s quite simple, really. Alabama and Notre Dame are the two most polarizing teams in the country—well, at least outside of Wherever Lane Kiffin is Coaching University—and the masses will turn in for their own reasons.
Notre Dame, in particular, is still college football’s biggest brand, and it's really not close. The Irish are the Dallas Cowboys of the NCAA and draw strong interest from both sides. To some, they are the enemy regardless of record or relevance. To others, they are the only rooting option. You love Notre Dame or you hate Notre Dame—very few stray to the path of indifference.
Alabama, more recently, is approaching a similar status on the national level. This raised profile has been built in large part because of overwhelming success of late, and many will simply root against a good thing only to hope it finally falls.
The SEC, Nick Saban and the perceived arrogance surrounding the fanbase make them an easy target if you’re searching for the nearest bull's-eye. It’s not fair, but it’s the perception on the grander scale.
Now, these two teams find themselves on a collision course that could have a colossal impact. The only folks more excited about the chaos that greatly benefited Alabama and Notre Dame last weekend were the television networks and BCS officials closely watching every snap, hoping to make this dream championship game a reality once again. Oh, those ratings.
Both fanbases will obviously be emotionally glued to this game, but it’s actually the interest from the outside, the hate and disdain that come with these teams, that will make this the most watched game in college football history.
And that’s absolutely fine. Hate away.
For every protagonist we need an antagonist, and your loathing in this particular situation requires no reasoning as long as you’re not poisoning trees, burning down houses or fighting someone over the logo on their shirt.
For the same reason you're dreading watching these two teams play—unless, of course, they’re your team of choice—I’m marveling at the possibilities. I’m thinking about the potential interest the sport will draw on this one night, and this ultimate spotlight has me anxious. I don't care why you'd watch (and you would watch) or which team you'd root against. Hell, root for both teams to lose for all I care.
The game itself is another story, although I do think it would very much be in the balance late into the second half. I also believe that knowing what we know now, the two best teams in the country would be meeting. For this particular argument, however, I'm viewing this as a bonus.
College football has an opportunity to be the story, and it would benefit for this night and the long, drawn-out coverage that will take place for more than a month. By the time the game rolls around, you will be inches from putting your head through the nearest brick wall, but you will still be glued to your flat screen.
With my dream scenario outlined, Notre Dame will undoubtedly lose to USC and Alabama will lose to Auburn. Well, no, that won’t happen. Alabama will lose to Georgia, and this entire plan will be kaput.
That’s the way it works in this glorious game, and it’s why outlining a scenario such as this—even with only a few games left to make it happen—is a challenge. But, I hope it happens. I hope this is the game we get because I believe the circus that would come with it would reach a stratosphere we haven’t seen.
Two historic teams, two unbelievably passionate fanbases and unthinkable resentment from the millions who have no dog in the fight. This could be college football's ultimate showcase, and it will be greeted with complaints, boos and unthinkable eyeballs.