In a season with numerous marquee games already played, and many still to come, one stands out above the rest as the "Game of the Year."
Alabama's demolishing of third-ranked Georgia on Saturday carries some serious merit, as it announced Bama's re-emergence not only to the SEC, but also to the nation.
LSU at Florida and Penn State at Wisconsin both lost luster after the Gators and Badgers spit the bit to unranked opponents. Georgia's Week 11 game at LSU suffered the same fate as well.
What game is left, then, as this season's "Game of the Year"? One that features two bitter rivals, two top five teams, and two teams with legit national championship dreams: The Red River Shootout—Oklahoma vs. Texas.
The stats back it up: Oklahoma's offense is tied for fourth in the country with Penn State at 49.8 points per game, while Texas' offense isn't far behind, averaging 49.5.
OU quarterback Sam Bradford averages 357 yards passing a game (357!!!), good for fifth in the nation. Colt McCoy and the Longhorns throw for 276.8 yards a game, tying for 18th.
Bradford and McCoy are two of the country's best quarterbacks when it comes to QB rating as well: McCoy is second in Division I at 209.71, and Bradford is third at 209.05.
The gaudy stats don't stop on the offensive side of the ball either, with OU's defense ranking 15th in total defense (Texas is 26th).
While the stats are great, this game gets the nod as "Game of the Year" for reasons that go far beyond the numbers. This game, regardless of outcome, will have the biggest effect on the National Title picture of any this season.
If Oklahoma gets past Texas, its toughest remaining games are at home against Kansas and Texas Tech. Granted, the Sooners slipped up last year on the road against unranked Colorado, but OU's road opponents this year (Kansas State and Texas A&M) aren't in the same league as the pesky Buffs at home.
That would set up two huge games in a row, beginning with Bedlam at Oklahoma State and ending with the Big 12 Championship game, presumably against Missouri (although the Tigers are in trouble if they don't find a defense in a hurry).
While Oklahoma State usually plays the Sooners tough, OU looks to have an advantage at virtually every position, and we all remember what happened in last year's Big 12 Championship game against an overrated and overmatched Missouri team.
If Oklahoma wins the Red River Shootout, they will have the inside track to Miami and the BCS Championship game. But what about Texas?
If the Longhorns emerge victorious, their road is a bit tougher than Oklahoma's. On Oct. 18, one week after OU/TX, Missouri comes to Austin. After that, Texas hosts Oklahoma State before traveling to Texas Tech.
Let's say the Longhorns survive that gauntlet unscathed—two rivalry games (Baylor and Texas A&M) and one ranked opponent on the road (Kansas) close out the regular season schedule.
In all honesty, the odds of Texas ending the season undefeated are slim-to-none, which will make things very interesting if they beat Oklahoma on Oct. 11. USC, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Florida—all with one loss—would suddenly gain new life in the National Title hunt.
The outcome of Oklahoma vs. Texas could shape the seasons of a handful of title contenders. And did I mention how much these two teams, and fans, dislike each other?
It all adds up to one big Saturday in October. One gigantic game. A game that will end up as the "Game of the Year."