Die-hard sports fans have circled Saturday, Sept. 14 on their calendars for months. Fall’s most anticipated game awaits. You guessed it: Saturday marks just three more weeks until the NBA preseason tips off in Istanbul, Turkey, when the Oklahoma City Thunder plays the Turkish basketball club Fenerbahce Ulker at Ulker Sports Arena.
Kidding, of course, though not about the NBA preseason game in Turkey. It’s happening and I know you’ll tune in.
This Saturday is college football’s Game of the Century for the month of September, as the top-ranked and two-time defending BCS champion Alabama Crimson Tide rolls into College Station, Texas to face the No. 6 Texas Agricultural & Mechanical Aggies. Toe-to-leather is set for 3:30 p.m. with a game time temperature of 92 degrees, or 98 when you factor in the hot air from the geeks at Kyle Field cheering those silly cheers.
The hype machine surrounding this one is in full force. ESPN’s College GameDay will broadcast live from College Station for something like 96 hours straight. CBS begins its annual SEC coverage on Saturday, and that means good old Verne Lundquist (“Oh my goodness! How about that!”) and Gary Danielson in the booth. It also means CBS’ iconic theme song heralds the return of football Saturdays in the South, sending chills down my spine.
Adding to the hype, CBS will devote a camera to literally every move of Heisman trophy-winning Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel during the three-plus hour game. That’s great, I guess, but wouldn’t “Johnny Cam” be more fun if it captured Manziel’s exploits after the game?
I do love the SEC on CBS. The network superbly delivers the pageantry, tradition, drama and talent of the finest conference in college football. But it should be more aggressive in leveraging the popular SEC platform to attract sponsorship revenue.
For example, during its broadcast, CBS only runs the following corporate-sponsored features: The Home Depot SEC Colllege Football on CBS; Auto Trader Pre-Game Show; Chick-fil-A Starting Lineups; Liberty Mutual Score Update; The Hartford Playbook; GEICO Halftime Report; First Half Trends Presented by Enterprise Rent-a-Car; Aflac Trivia Question; The Home Depot Tools for Success; GEICO Scoring Recap; Red Lobster Scholar Athlete; DirecTV Player of the Game; Verizon Red Zone; Five-Star Play of the Game Presented by NAPA Auto Parts; and the Jeep Post-Game Show.
Turning to this month’s Game of the Century, the Crimson Tide’s sponsor is Nick Saban, which means the Tide is sponsored by winning. That’s just what Alabama will do on Saturday afternoon in the mid-September Texas heat.
How long do you think Saban has studied film on Johnny Football and his merry Aggie men? My bet is the minute he put down the crystal ball trophy in Miami last January. If Saban has viewed Texas A&M’s defense this year, he knows the Aggies are second to last in the SEC in total defense and scoring defense. Agricultural & Mechanical even gave up 31 points to Rice. Rice!
I can already see Bama running back T.J. Yeldon running roughshod through the Aggies’ porous defense.
Concerns over the Tide’s subpar offensive line performance against Virginia Tech will dissipate as the unit should benefit from two weeks of preparation and incessant yelling by Saban. If that doesn’t motivate you, nothing will.
The way SEC Banter sees it, Texas A&M’s only advantages are Manziel and the Texas heat. Oh, and the 1950s-era cheers from the Texas A&M “Yell Leaders,” a group of all-male cheerleaders.
If Alabama can win in Baton Rouge, the Swamp, and BCS title games, it can handle College Station. Johnny Football will do his thing for a while and keep it competitive, but Bama’s depth and Saban’s coaching should make this hyped-up Game of the Century a snooze-fest by the end of the third quarter.
Speaking of hype, the newspaper wants to generate a buzz about SEC Banter. I’m thinking an SEC Banter Cam that captures my every move is in the cards. Let me know if you’re interested in becoming a sponsor.
Ben Prevost is a contributing columnist for The Times. Follow him on Twitter @SECbanter or contact him at SECbanter@hotmail.com.