The final year of the BCS is approaching with a number of high-profile teams staring down the crystal football. Alabama and Ohio State are the early favorites to land in the game, and having the two powerhouses square off for the title would be a fitting sendoff for the BCS era.
Last year, the Urban Meyer-led Buckeyes went on an impressive undefeated run that would have put them in the national title game if not for NCAA sanctions.
Alabama was able to march to its second straight national title and is expected to challenge for a third this fall.
A couple of things make this game the best scenario to end 2013: It matches tradition-rich programs and legendary coaches, and it signals the return to prominence of traditional conference powers.
Every season, the landscape of the game is layered with opportunities. Players are early favorites for the Heisman, while others are set to become legends with a few more wins.
This game would produce numerous storylines that would make legends and change traditions in just 60 minutes.
AJ McCarron has the chance to win a third straight national title. If he does, he will make college football history and become part of the “best of all time” discussion.
This would be a major storyline that would drive the game's ratings.
Another big draw would be Braxton Miller's Heisman Trophy campaign. He is heading into the year as an early favorite after a strong 2012 season. He is a dangerous dual-threat quarterback who fits well into the Urban Meyer offense.
Having spent more than a year in Meyer's system, look for Miller's production and accuracy to improve.
The Ohio State vs. the SEC will also attract attention. The Buckeyes are 1-2 against the SEC in the BCS and 0-2 in title games.
Watching Ohio State try to reverse that trend against the seemingly unbeatable Crimson Tide would drive the media and fans wild.
Merchandise nationwide for the Buckeyes would be hard to find. Pulling for the team that knocks off 'Bama would be enough to drive some fans to the local Foot Locker. A run on Ohio State merchandise would put a dent in inventory and create a shortage of No. 5 jerseys.
Ohio State and Alabama are two of the most tradition-rich programs in college football. Both have laid claim to multiple national titles and are consistent pipelines of talent to the NFL.
Ohio State has seven national titles to its credit, with the Tide claiming 15.
The Buckeyes have seven Heisman winners as well. Alabama has produced one.
Both programs are among the top 10 in all-time wins. Ohio State is 837-316-53, the Tide 827-321-43.
Over the years, these programs have become the flagships for their respective conferences. Winning championships does that for a program, and this year should produce another title run for both of these schools.
Watching these two programs that carry a quarter-century of title gold battle for a national title would be a fitting end to the BCS era.
Ratings, Ratings, Ratings
The past few seasons have brought a lot of mid-major conference talk, with teams like Boise State and Northern Illinois working themselves into the BCS discussion. There still hasn’t been a mid-major that has made it to the title game, but some will hope that changes this year.
It won’t happen, and the country will be happy to see it. The ratings for an Alabama vs. Ohio State matchup would skyrocket past any mix of mid-major schools and BCS automatic qualifier.
The country loves big-brand football, and outside of the specific markets of the small schools, the draw is simply not there.
The new playoff system will finally give the smaller schools a legitimate shot at the title, but finishing the BCS era with one final big-name game just fits.
Living Legends Square Off
Love them or hate them, watching Urban Meyer and Nick Saban battle it out from the sidelines is a matchup made in college football heaven. Two living legends squaring off would be an historic occasion.
Does a Saban vs. Meyer matchup compare to the Schembechler vs. Hayes days?
Meyer has coached all over the country, but his most memorable work was at Florida. He took Tim Tebow and turned him into a quality quarterback while managing to win two national titles along the way.
Saban has been in the SEC for most of his major college coaching career, and winning titles is a part of his regular schedule.
He has secured four national titles as a head coach, with all four coming from the SEC. He won a title at LSU, in addition to his three at Alabama.
Watching these two walk opposing sidelines would be reminiscent of the Woody Hayes versus Bo Schembechler or Bear Bryant versus Shug Jordan showdowns.
This is a game that would be a proper end to a crazy and controversial era of college football.