I was on the road yesterday for a little while, listening to two talk radio idiots talking about the big college games of the week. One of them said Arizona St. vs. Oregon was the biggest game of the week because it was the game between highest-rated teams and had the greatest national championship implications. The other one said that the LSU-Bama game was the biggest because a) it's SEC, b) the whole Saban thing, and c) the teams don't like each other.
I agree with Idiot #2, and I'll tell you why.
Sure, the game between Arizona State and Oregon has substantial national championship implications. The winner will be in the thick of the championship hunt while the loser will be effectively eliminated. The same is not true of the LSU vs. Bama game. LSU remains in the national championship hunt, and will be eliminated if they lose, but Bama is not in it and can't get back into it.
While the ASU-Oregon game has that win-and-still-in-it, lose-and-you're-out subplot, and that certainly is meaningful, here's the deal about it. Outside of Pac-10 country, no one cares which one stays in and which one goes out. Someone will win. Someone will lose. I'll say, "Now isn't that interesting," as I read about it in the newspaper the next day.
On the other hand, the LSU-Bama game has, for all intents and purposes, the division title on the line. It also has a coach going against his old team, and that coach's replacement trying to show that it's his team. (Never mind that I think he's long since already done it; the media doesn't seem to agree). It is also a bitter, century-old rivalry. But the kicker is the Saban factor. Literally every college football fan in the country is interested to know how this game plays out. They want to see how these teams play and how these coaches play in this very bitter and heated environment. That's something ASU-Oregon can't match.
OK, I'm maybe exaggerating a little. Fact is that Oregon looks like a pretty good team at this point, and they have a very exciting offense. They're a fun team to watch. But I think the larger point remains.