BOISE - Players from both Air Force and Boise State, spoken to separately, managed to mention the four letters that have had so much impact on college football and may play a factor in Friday night's game.
"It's going to be a fun environment, a Friday night," said Falcons cornerback Steffon Bates, "and ESPN."
The same thing was on the mind this week of Air Force running back Jon Lee - "Friday night, ESPN, Boise State, it will be fun," and even Boise State quarterback Joe Southwick when discussing the game back at Mountain West Media Day in July - "It's prime time, ESPN. They're going to be excited. We're going to be excited."
Friday's game will air at 6 p.m. on ESPN, making it viewable to as many as 98.5 million households. The self-proclaimed "World Wide Leader in Sports" cannot be dismissed as a factor in this game - particularly with revamped rosters on both sides full of players who have never played in a nationally broadcast game. But then, ESPN touches virtually everything in the sport.
"Television revenue has drastically, I mean majorly, changed college athletics over the past 15 years and even more so probably over the past eight years," said coach Troy Calhoun, whose team will receive a $300,000 bonus for this game because it was selected by ESPN.
"I will say this. I don't think you should allow television to change your institution's mission. I think that has happened. Not here, but I think in terms of university athletics absolutely that has occurred."
Boise State's recent conference drama, as it joined the Mountain West, made plans to leave it and ultimately returned, was all about television revenue. Part of the carrot that led to the agreement had to do with the Broncos negotiating their own television packages.
It was also about getting back on the coveted network.
"The only thing that we've always been all about is being on ESPN," Boise State coach Chris Petersen told the Idaho Statesman this week. "We didn't like going to the Mountain West the first time, being off ESPN. That was a big negative - probably the only negative."
Batts said he wouldn't give the game's potentially large television audience much thought, but he's played on ESPN before. He realizes some of his teammates have not.
"It might play in the back of some people's minds," Batts said. "All of that stuff is cool on the outside. Your family can be back home watching it, but we've got to get a win."
Calhoun may not like everything about ESPN's impact on his sport, but he recognizes the value of putting the academy on display around the world. He even has no problem doing the sometimes awkward in-game interviews as he's running into the locker room at halftime.
"I tell you what, they're professional and respectful," Calhoun said, adding that so many networks have adopted the procedure that it has become a normal part of playing a televised game. "They do a good job of keeping it short and I don't think it impedes your preparation for the next half."
This game carries importance in the conference's Mountain Division, as Air Force is desperately in need of a win to stay in the hunt for the league's championship game after being blown out by Utah State last week. It also gives both teams a chance to right the ship after parallel seasons that have included a lopsided win over a Football Championship Subdivision foe and a lopsided loss against an Football Bowl Subdivision opponent.
But more than that, it's a chance to play well and represent their institutions as the only nationally televised game in their time slot.
"Being a business major, I get it," Southwick told the Statesman. "You want to get you brand out there. You want to get as many eyes as you can on your brand."