Will Oregon win a BCS championship and signal the ascendance of "New America" even on the football field?
Or will Kansas State, Notre Dame, or one from a horde of SEC challengers slow the fade of "Old America" by shooting down the Ducks?
We will not know for another several weeks, but the battle lines drawn during this year's political contests seem to be spilling over to the gridiron.
"New America" supposedly represents an ever-changing, fast-paced society ... is anything faster-paced than Oregon's offense (which leads the nation in scoring)? Forget about going to the fridge when the Ducks have the ball, odds are you'll miss four plays and a touchdown before you pour the Coca-Cola.
"New America" supposedly represents a sprawling, teeming mishmash of a multi-cultural populace ... Oregon features a star quarterback from Hawaii in Marcus Mariota (and seven other islanders), a slithering, slippery Black Mamba from South Central Los Angeles (De'Anthony Thomas), a Dane from the North Pole (WR Dane Ebanez from North Pole, Alaska), an exotic-sounding Canadian (LB Boseko Lokombo from British Columbia), and other players hailing from Florida to the great Northwest.
"New America" supposedly represents the need for Uncle Sam to act as a sugar daddy, giving out treats galore to citizens eager for the freebies ... the Ducks feature Phil Knight, founder of Nike and the biggest athletic booster of them all, his largesse resulting in palatial football facilities, and more uniform combinations than a mathematics professor could calculate.
So, is "Old America" resigned to the slag heap of history, destined to go the way of the wing-T, leather helmets, and quick kicks?
"Old America" treasures conservative values like a strong defense. The five closest pursuers to Oregon - Kansas State, Notre Dame, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida - all rank in the top 25 nationally in scoring defense, with the Tide, Irish, and Florida making up the top three (Bama and ND are tied at #1 this week). The Ducks rank 30th - tied with Minnesota.
"Old America" honors tradition and experience. Does any team have the tradition of Notre Dame? The pedigree of Alabama? The stolid leadership and experience of Bill Snyder at K-State? The Tide and Irish have combined for more football national titles than any other two schools. Bill Snyder could have been the model for the farmer in American Gothic.
"Old America" supposedly believes in doing things the old-fashioned way. Bill Snyder played defensive back in college, earned his stripes as an assistant coach with John McKay and Hayden Fry, and built K-State from arguably the worst program in America to a team that would be in the championship game if the season ended today. Notre Dame's Brian Kelly played linebacker in college, and worked his way up through head coaching stops at Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, and Cincinnati before landing the Irish gig in 2010. Nick Saban played defensive back in college, worked under Bill Belichick, has led programs at Toledo, Michigan State, LSU, and the Miami Dolphins in the NFL. Oh, he has also won three BCS championships. Mark Richt of Georgia played QB under Howard Schnellenberger at Miami, and spent two decades with Bobby Bowden at Florida State. Will Muschamp of Florida played defensive back at Georgia and coached under Saban, Tommy Tuberville, and Mack Brown. By contrast, Chip Kelly never played college football and worked his way up through non-traditional programs at Columbia, Johns Hopkins, and New Hampshire.
New America won a presidential election last week, and (as represented by Oregon) looks favored to win another championship in early January.
Old America took a kick to the stomach in the 2012 election, but Kansas State, Notre Dame, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida are anxious for an opportunity to show the old ways still work pretty well.
College football 2012.