Ed Note: The following appears courtesy our friends at Bloguin’s college sports site The Student Section. Make sure you bookmark the site with the college football season just a week away.
A permanent fixture on Saturday mornings for most college football fans, College GameDay’s popularity continues to grow each year. Fans across the country tune in each week anxious to see what Lee Corso is going to do when it’s time for him to pick the game of the week.
It’s even more fun for fans and students when the show is on campus. People arrive hours – and sometimes days – early just to be a part of the GameDay experience.
That type of atmosphere prompted many fans to write in and ask, “Is College GameDay coming to my campus for the big game this year?”
Aside from the first week of the season – where the show will be in Dallas for Oklahoma State – Florida State – it’s tough to know where GameDay will be each week. After all, there are a number of factors that ESPN must consider before sending the crew to a given site.
With that disclaimer in mind, here’s where I think GameDay will end up each week, starting with week two. To make it more interesting, I’ve included the projected records of each team at the time of kickoff. I also listed the network for each game in cases where available.
My Pick: USC (1-0) at Stanford (1-0), ABC
Other Possibilities: Michigan State (1-0) at Oregon (1-0), FOX
Explanation: Believe it or not, this is an easy call to make. While the Michigan State – Oregon matchup features two top-10 teams, sending GameDay to Eugene is only going to create more interest in a game that Fox is hosting. As the worldwide leader in sports, ESPN can’t afford to give Fox any additional exposure that would help it try to close the gap.
That’s why the WWL will go to Stanford instead. Although it’s not the sexiest game on the slate, it does feature two top-15 teams, and the series itself has produced several upsets over the past 10 years.
My Pick: Georgia (1-0) at South Carolina (2-0), CBS
Other possibilities: Tennessee (2-0) at Oklahoma (2-0), ABC; Iowa State (1-1) at Iowa (2-0), ABC
Explanation: The border war between the Peach State and the Palmetto State gets the nod here. After all, the winner of this game will likely win the SEC East, giving it a chance to play for a conference championship. While a win in Atlanta doesn’t guarantee a bid to the College Football Playoff, it does increase the likelihood of that happening.
However, GameDay’s trip to Columbia, S.C., is contingent upon Georgia beating Clemson in the season opener. Should the Dawgs lose that contest, this matchup would a lot of its luster, and make it less attractive. In that case, ESPN might be inclined to select Tennessee – Oklahoma (if the Vols survive potential upsets by Utah State and Arkansas State) or the Battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy (especially if the Cyclones upset Kansas State in week two).
My Pick: Florida (3-0) at Alabama (3-0)
Other Possibilities: Clemson (1-1) at Florida State (2-0), Miami (3-0) at Nebraska (3-0)
Explanation: Once again, the SEC gets the nod. Sure, the epic battle between the ‘Canes and ‘Huskers is the 8 p.m. (Eastern) game on ESPN/ABC, but the showdown between the Gators and Tide has a greater impact on the College Football Playoff picture. Under the assumption that Florida rolls into this game without a loss, the storyline of Florida’s suddenly explosive offense against Alabama’s top-10 defense will be too good to pass up…
…unless Clemson beats Georgia in Week 1. With a Tiger victory in that contest, Clemson would travel to Tallahassee with an undefeated record. If – and it’s big if – that happens, GameDay would have to make the trip to Florida State since the game would be a matchup of two top-10 teams.
My Pick: Duke (4-0) at Miami (4-0)
Other Possibilities: Missouri (4-0) at South Carolina (3-1), Stanford (3-0) at Washington (4-0)
Explanation: Week 5 is one of the toughest weeks to predict, because there are so many good games to choose from.
Here’s how they’ll narrow the field.
While it may be the best game of the week, Missouri – South Carolina won’t make the cut. GameDay isn’t going to re-visit a site it saw earlier in the season.
It’s also highly unlikely that ESPN will select Washington to host the show either. Even though the Cardinal – Huskies clash will be one of the best games of the year, the network isn’t going to help the Pac-12 in instances when it doesn’t have to. Since the ACC has a very viable game on the docket, it will get the nod.
That will be very easy to justify. The Blue Devils and Hurricanes should both enter this game undefeated, with each team needing a victory to keep pace with Florida State for ACC supremacy. The “win or go-home” storyline will make an already electric atmosphere even more intense, making it a better made-for-television event than the other two contests.
My Pick: LSU (5-0) at Auburn (4-0)
Other Possibilities: Alabama (4-0) at Ole Miss (4-0), Baylor (4-0) at Texas (3-1), Stanford (4-0) at Notre Dame (4-0)
Explanation: In another difficult call, GameDay will choose LSU – Auburn over Alabama – Ole Miss. Since both matchups are about even, it makes sense for the show to cover teams it hasn’t already seen this season. Since the crew will see Alabama in week three against Florida, it only makes sense to go to Auburn for this one.
One thing that could change this decision is Texas. If the Longhorns were to upset UCLA in week three, it’d be hard to pass up a top-10 tilt between in-state rivals.
Sadly, Stanford at Notre Dame won’t receive any serious consideration. While this epic struggle will be one of the best games of the year, the Fighting Irish have a TV contract with NBC, making it highly unlikely that ESPN will choose to set up shop there. This is especially true in week six, with so many other quality contests on the docket.