Considering the stakes, it is understandable that the hype leading up to the clash between No. 1 Alabama and No. 6 Texas A&M has reached an epic level.
The matchup is being billed as a revenge game, but many are hoping it will become a “Game of the Century.” Will it meet the expectations? Probably.
Here are the six criteria that make marquee games extraordinary, memorable and worthy of distinction.
To be a true blockbuster, pitting No. 1 versus No. 2 is generally the requirement, but this game is an exception. The Aggies dealt the Crimson Tide their only loss last season.
Whether it admits it or not, Alabama wants payback for last year’s defeat.
Offensive struggles are the least favorite to watch, and this game has low scoring written all over it.
There are solid reasons why Alabama has given up 20 points only three times over the last two years. Nick Saban is a defensive genius and his talent is just superior to that of his counterparts. Given time, he usually puts the right game plan together to keep his opponents from scoring.
The Aggies struck quickly last year and held on late for the win. Saban won’t get fooled twice and his team will be ready.
For a game to be as good as advertised, there must be an element of surprise. The only shock in this contest would be a blowout, but that would mean the game was a flop.
Exceptional games have a direct effect on the chase for the national championship, and there is no doubt that this one has those implications.
Even though recent history has proven that a loss is not a knockout blow for an SEC team, the loser of this one will probably be out of the BCS title game. The consequences are severe and the pressure is tremendous.
Not helping matters is a perception of vulnerability for the SEC this year. LSU’s win over is TCU is looking less impressive after the Horned Frogs’ loss to Texas Tech last night, and the SEC East is a mess right now.
Coupled with the vulnerability, Alabama and Texas A&M’s schedules are not overly challenging. Both teams will have fewer opportunities to showcase to the voters that one loss is acceptable.
Will the loser be out of contention for the BCS National Championship Game?
This is likely an elimination game.
Legendary games are typically made in the fourth quarter, when there are several momentum swings and back-and-forth scoring is occurring.
A perfect example is the 2006 Rose Bowl, when Vince Young willed the Texas Longhorns to a huge 41-38 upset over USC.
32 points were scored in the fourth quarter, with the star players on both teams making one big play after another. The outcome was in doubt until Young’s 14-yard sprint to the corner of the end zone gave the Longhorns a one-point lead with 19 seconds to play.
No one can predict what will happen on Saturday, but it would be nice to see the game tied with 15 minutes to play.
The venue provides the platform where history can be made. Kyle Field may not be the biggest stadium, but it is one of the few sites that rises above the others.
Between the 12th Man, the Corps of Cadets march, the "Aggie War Hymn," the Aggie Yell Leaders and the standing throughout the game, Kyle Field a special place to play.
This game has most of the ingredients to deliver a classic, but too often the hype exceeds performance, which leads to disappointment.
If Texas A&M and Alabama do deliver, savor it because monumental games rarely happen.