The hype for Notre Dame against Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game has already reached a fever pitch, and the clash is still a week away. It's hard to imagine the game living up to that incredibly high standard.
College football fans have been looking forward to the matchup ever since the Crimson Tide survived a challenge from Georgia in the SEC title game. With over a month to dissect the marquee game from every angle, fans are expecting an unforgettable battle.
Having two defensive-minded teams face off is the biggest issue. It's the same thing that happened last season, when Alabama faced LSU in a ballyhooed rematch that turned into a snooze fest as the Crimson Tide rolled to an easy victory.
Fans, especially those of the casual variety that spend a lot of time watching the NFL, which is dominated by high-powered offenses, are enamored by shootouts. High-scoring games that are decided by which team has the ball last are in demand.
By contrast, a battle between elite defenses can generate just as much hype leading up to the game, but rarely captivates an audience in the same way.
The fact that Notre Dame, which has been off the national title radar for quite some time, is returning to the national spotlight simply adds to the attention the game is getting. The Irish still feature a gigantic fanbase that will continue to grow as the game nears.
On the Alabama side, fans are thinking dynasty. Since the Tide have already won two titles in the last three years, another one would make their dominance undeniable, even for SEC rivals that hate giving them credit for anything.
When you put it all together, fans are expecting a game for the ages. One that will get replayed for years to come. One where sports junkies will remember where they watched it for the rest of their lives.
The oddsmakers certainly don't see that happening. They have installed Alabama as a double-digit favorite (via SBGGlobal.com) over a Notre Dame squad that didn't play a team on that level during the regular season.
A blowout would obviously cause the game to lose a lot of its luster pretty quickly. But even if it's close, it will likely be 10-7 close. Not 35-31 close, or even 27-24 close. And that makes it hard to see people viewing it as an all-time great game.
Make no mistake: It should be an interesting game. Maybe even one that doesn't get truly decided until late in the fourth quarter.
It doesn't have the feel of a memorable battle of the titans, however, and that's exactly what it must be to match the hype.