We hit a milestone this week. Tuesday was May 2, meaning the first Saturday of college football action was officially four months away. We’re now closer to the beginning of the 2017 season as we are to the end of the ’16 campaign.
With that in mind, I took a look at guessing where College GameDay will send its crew for each week of the season. I feel pretty confident about Weeks 1 and 2… and not at all beyond that. Enjoy!
Sept. 2: Alabama vs. Florida State (at Atlanta) — Go ahead and mark this one in ink. The only question is whether or not they’re playing the game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Sept. 9: Auburn at Clemson — Clemson opens the season at home against Kent State, but for the rest of us this will be the 2016 national champions’ homecoming party.
Sept. 16: Texas at USC — The Tom Herman hype train meets the Sam Darnold hype train meets the first Rose Bowl rematch since the Rose Bowl.
Sept. 23: Washington at Colorado — Not going to lie to you, friends. This would have been our first “stay in the studio” week in the old days of GameDay.
Sept. 30: Georgia at Tennessee — When in doubt… SEC.
Oct. 7: Alabama at Texas A&M — The Aggies aren’t highly thought of in preseason, but wait. They open at UCLA and don’t leave Texas again for the rest of the month, hosting Nicholls State, Louisiana-Lafayette and South Carolina with a game against Arkansas in Arlington.
Oct. 14: Texas vs. Oklahoma — GameDay‘s return to the State Fair of Texas for the first time since 2011 is also its first trip to a Big 12 site since 2015. It’s also the best chance for the Big 12 to break its season-plus streak, since Bedlam falls on the same day as Alabama-LSU.
Oct. 21: Michigan at Penn State — The Big Ten was the story of the second half of the 2016 season, so it feels weird to go over half of the ’17 season before we hit our first Big Ten campus. Yet, here we are.
Oct. 28: Penn State at Ohio State — ESPN executives will be forced to root for the Nittany Lions to beat Michigan.
Nov. 4: LSU at Alabama — GameDay has graced Tide-Tigers five of the past six years.
Nov. 11: Florida State at Clemson — How is it already mid-November and we haven’t hit a single ACC conference game?
Nov. 18: Michigan at Wisconsin — This is a prime opportunity to hit an off-the-beaten-path game (GameDay visited Western Michigan in this spot last year and Harvard-Yale in 2014) but a meeting of Big Ten heavyweights at a jumping and hopefully frothy Camp Randall isn’t a bad Plan A.
Nov. 25: Alabama at Auburn — ESPN basically owns college football. It owns the Playoff, it’s the only network contractually tied to every major conference, and it televises more games than anyone else. GameDay is the funnel to which it fuels the viewers to pay off that investment. And yet it’s highly likely the two biggest rivalry games in the sport — three, if Texas-OU still qualifies — probably won’t be on its airwaves. CBS owns first dibs to the Iron Bowl and, thanks to the new deal the Big Ten signed in 2016, Fox will probably air Michigan-Ohio State. Fox also aired Texas-OU in 2016. GameDay will go where the story is. But, still, it’s weird that a network that owns most of the regular season of a sport that bills itself as The Regular Season Sport won’t own the biggest games of the regular season.
Dec. 2: Big Ten Championship — One side effect of the SEC East’s long and continued slide — the SEC Championship is no longer compelling television. GameDay hasn’t been to Atlanta on the first Saturday in December since 2012. The East champion is good enough to only keep Alabama (or Auburn or LSU, in rare Crimson Tide down years) close for a quarter and a half, whereas a Playoff spot is on the line in Tuscaloosa.
What do you think? And can the season just get here already?