I made the argument in today's Sporting News column:
Is Florida-Alabama in the SEC title game the biggest regular-season game in the (modern) history of college football?
Let me crib from my arguments at SN:
*1 vs. 2
*12-0 vs. 12-0
*It's a playoff: Winner is in the national title game, loser is out.
*Not just that, but the winner will be the favorite in the national title game, like the NFC championship game in the 1980s and early 1990s.
*It's the best two coaches in college football.
*The featured match-up has the best 1-on-1 match-up of the season: The nation's best WR (Julio Jones) versus the nation's best CB (Joe Haden).
*Alabama is the most powerful college football brand in the South; Florida is the best program in the country and the reigning dynasty.
*It features the most celebrated college football player of all time, playing in the most pressure-packed game of his career.
Any ONE of those factors would make the game interesting. Any combination of 2 or 3 of them would make this the Game of the Year. But the things that make this game interesting just keep going and going and going....
(In fact, the only game I can think of that reminds me of it is the 2005 national title game between USC and Texas. But that was a national-title game. For a regular-season game -- or, technically, a conference-title game -- this game comes really close, in terms of pre-game storylines.
That's why it's the biggest regular-season game in the history of college football.
UPDATE: By POPULAR DEMAND -- yes, Ohio State-Michigan in 2006 had many of the same qualifications as this game. It's hard to remember the pre-game lead-up when your memory of the '06 Ohio State team is so defined by the pasting they took in the national title game.
As for the commenter talking about '66 (Mich St-ND), I will take your word for it -- let's qualify "modern" as "Post-ESPN Era," meaning: Since ESPN has been around (1979/80-ish).