The BCS rankings will be severely impacted by the games that take place this week, and excitement is building for these meaningful bouts.
Virginia Tech and Virginia meet to determine which team will face Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. LSU and Arkansas face off to possibly determine who will play for the National Championship. Pretty much every team in the Pac-12 South takes the field this week with a berth to the Pac-12 Championship Game on the line. All of these games are surrounded in excitement and being hyped up magnificently by media and fans.
However, none of these games is truly the most exciting or meaningful, from a football purist's point of view. The most exciting and meaningful game of the week is taking place in Huntington, West Virgina—a Conference USA matchup between ECU and Marshall, two teams with identical 5-6 records.
It may seem strange to proclaim a game between two teams with losing records the "best game of the week." However, it's a rather simple explanation as to why this is the case.
The winner of the game becomes bowl-eligible, while the loser's season is over after the game.
The players at Arkansas, LSU, Virginia Tech and those other schools involved in high-profile games this weekend are playing for hardware and the right to call themselves champions. The athletes taking the field in Huntington this Saturday are playing for the opportunity to play one more game, and for the right to claim their efforts this season were successful.
Regardless of how the Arkansas-LSU game or Virginia-VT game turn out, the players on those teams still have more games remaining this season, and are assured of winning seasons. In the ECU-Marshall game, only half of the players in the stadium will get to play another game this season and avoid a losing record.
Which team will win the game?
It may seem like this game really isn't all that important, because neither of the teams has a shot at the National Championship or a prestigious BCS game.
Try telling the players on the ECU and Marshall football teams that this game isn't important.
Try telling it to all of the seniors playing in this game, most of whom will be ending their football careers when the season is over. For them, this game is about earning the right to play competitive football one more time before they leave it behind them forever.
Try telling it to ECU's senior QB Dominique Davis, who transferred from BC after being suspended for academic reasons. Davis has never won a bowl game. For him, this game is about earning the opportunity to have one last shot at winning a bowl, and about giving back to the school that believed in him and gave him a second chance, one which he worked vigorously to make the best of.
Try telling it to Marshall's senior DE Vinny Curry, who is currently fourth in the nation in sacks. With very little fanfare, Curry has been one of the best defensive linemen in the country over the past few seasons. Curry never complained about the lack of recognition or respect, he just went out onto the field game after game and played his heart out.
For him, this game is about earning the right to pour his heart and soul into a bowl game for a school and team that he has proudly represented for four years.
When it comes down to it, the Marshall-ECU game exemplifies the very best side of college football. Forget the NCAA investigation at Miami, the scandal at Penn State or the bickering and chest-thumping coming out of the SEC West.
The ECU-Marshall game is simply about football and earning the right to play it one more time this season.