Those who tuned in to CBS' coverage of either professional or amateur football last weekend heard various promotions for this Saturday's mammoth collegiate clash between No. 1 ranked LSU and No. 2 Alabama. The matchup between the top two teams in the BCS and AP standings was being heralded as "Game Of The Century."
At first glance, this SEC pairing seems to fit the bill. After all, the Southern-fried tilt is a de facto playoff game, with the loser very likely knocked out of national championship contention. The only problem is that Saturday marks the fifth time in the 21st century that teams ranked in the top two spots in the standings have squared off during the regulars season. Nearly all of them have been touted as world historic events.
How many games of the century can one century -- or even one decade -- handle before we need to involve a flux capacitor?
In his preview of LSU-Alabama for Sports Illustrated, Andy Staples fully embraced the hyperbolic and temporally problematic verbiage surrounding this game by describing it as "The Game of the Year. The Game of the Century. The Game of the Millennium. The Game of the Year of the Century of the Millennium."
Click Here For HuffPost Sports' Breakdown Of The Game
There have been 24 previous regular-season contests between teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the AP poll, and depending on one's age, alma mater or stylistic preference, any of them could be considered the "Game of the Century."
At least, they can be considered that until the next one...
In a sport that has already gone more than 100 years without establishing a reliable way to award a national title over the course of a single season, should it be that surprising if opinions vary from year to year about the greatest game of this or any other century?
Should we judge these contests by the closeness of the final scores? Should it be the accomplishments of the teams after the game? Or, perhaps, it should be the relative dominance of the teams involved versus the other teams in college football?
If that's your criteria of choice then look no further than Oklahoma's clash with Nebraska in 1971. Want an idea of how utterly dominant these teams were that year? Colorado lost to both schools by a combined scored of 76-24, and still finished No. 3 in the AP poll behind them at the end of the season.
If you're just looking for the most thrilling game then it's hard to do better than Oklahoma and USC in 1981. This game featured a stunning fourth-quarter comeback and was capped off by a last-second touchdown pass. But is all that adrenaline and tension somehow lessoned by the knowledge that neither school would even play for the national championship?
In sports, games and athletes can reach mythical status fairly easily. Greatness is abstract and in the eye of the beholder (yet often narrated by the voice of Brent Musburger). The unsatisfying nature of college football's championship formula only exacerbates the inclination toward heated debate and irrational exuberance. That national championship system -- or lack thereof -- also ensures that many of these regular season games end up being the most crucial affairs of the year.
Below are highlights from some of the most memorable 1 vs. 2 match-ups in college football history and decide which one you feel is truly the game of the century.