Earlier this week it was announced that every college football junkies favorite Saturday morning show, ESPN College GameDay, will be making it’s first stop of the season for the Georgia at Clemson game.
That’s a heck of a way to kick off the season with two teams from the south squaring off in a game that most likely kills one team’s dreams of a national title. However, that got us to thinking where else is the famed show going to head in 2013?
After all, if you’ve ever attended or been around a town when GameDay comes rolling in, you know the power that event can bring.
So, as we inch closer to the season, we thought it best to give you our look at where the GameDay bus pulls up and Lee, Kirk, Desmond, Chris, David, and the myriad cast of characters do their thang in 2013.
Week 2: Notre Dame at Michigan
This week is surprisingly full of great matchups whether it’s Oregon traveling all the way to the east coast to take on Virginia in a tricky matchup or an all Florida affair that could doom the loser’s season. It could also be a long standing rivalry coming close to it’s end or could we see a new coach in a new place taking on his old team?
At the end of the day though it’s hard not to go with the early season rivalry matchup between two of the biggest national programs and that’s why it’ll be Notre Dame at Michigan. With the game to be played on prime time on ABC and the special nature of playing at night at Michigan Stadium, how could you not chose this one as your destination? Add in the fact that these two teams are likely Top 20 teams entering the battle and you have the ingredients for the perfect setup for GameDay.
Week 3: Alabama at Texas A&M
While there are some very interesting matchups to the college football junkie in week three – namely Wisconsin at Arizona State and Louisville at Kentucky there is NO WAY IN HELL this show isn’t showing up for the rematch of the only loss ‘Bama suffered on the way to a national championship last season. There are just way too many reasons to get to this location for this game. I mean, seriously, whether it’s Johnny Football vs. A.J. McCarron or “The 12th Man” or the whole “What do the Moon and the Aggies have in common?” business – this game is a ratings winner and that’s what matters, especially early in the season.
Week 4: Utah at BYU
This game won’t be played for a few years after this year and it’s one of the best rivalry games west of the Mississippi. Sure, neither team may have the national cache that some other matchups have, but it’s an important game and BYU does have a tremendous national following.
Besides, does Tennessee at Florida really matter anymore? Outside of that we’re talking about maybe a trip to South Bend. But, do you really want the Golden Domers on your main stage twice in two weeks? Doubtful. This week is really weak (yes, I just did that) on big time games and this is the most logical option and this show is known for thinking outside the conventional box once or twice a season anyway.
Week 5: Wisconsin at Ohio State
How do you not show up for a game that’s as big as this one will be? No matter what happens in the non-conference slate these two teams are the clear frontrunners for the Leaders division title and this tilt is realistically for all the marbles so to speak. Add in the fact that it’s a legit rivalry between the Badgers and Buckeyes and you’ve got yourself TV gold. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that this game is the ABC prime time game as well.
Sure, you could make a case for Oklahoma at Notre Dame, but you also need to consider where these two teams could be in the national picture as well. Besides these guys were at the game last year, do you really need to be there twice in a row? I think not, so the clear nod is to the Big Ten battle in Week 5.
Week 6: Georgia Tech at Miami (FL)
I would’ve loved to pick TCU at Oklahoma, but I have a feeling ESPN wants to save itself for it’s nearly annual excursion to all things fried food the next week. So, we are left with a less than awesome slate of games to chose from and of that bunch this game has a national brand in “the U” and it has something college football junkies will like and that’s a matchup between two teams that are potential division winners. Don’t forget, had Miami not put itself on a postseason ban last year they would’ve went to the ACC championship game instead of the Yellow Jackets. There are plenty of angles to sell and Duke Johnson is a name to sell to the general public as well.
The only other real possibility for me in another week that doesn’t jump out at me as super exciting could be a trip to Annapolis for Air Force vs. Navy as a way to honor the military. It would be a nice gesture, but it only works if AF or Navy has a good start to their season.
Week 7: Oklahoma at Texas
Come on, you know you can pencil this game in the ESPN College GameDay schedule just about every year. Lee Corso, fried food, the Red River Rivalry – what part of that doesn’t scream entertaining TV to you? Of course, it also helps that both of these teams could be in need of a win to control their own way in what most expect to be a wide-open Big 12 race.
However, this wasn’t an easy choice and it may not be for the powers that be at ESPN either because there’s a potentially awesome trip to Madison for a game between the Badgers and Northwestern that could be appetizing. There’s also Oregon at Washington (that’s a beautiful backdrop for a game and the Pac-12 deserves some love, right?). Then you’ve got a potentially awesome or really irrelevant SEC matchup between LSU and Florida you could make a case for. So, while the Red River Rivalry should be a no-brainer in most years it may not be in 2013. Call me less than 100% on this pick to say the least.
Week 8: UCLA at Stanford
Two of the three top contenders in the Pac-12 going at it in Palo Alto and the fact that ESPN (according to our predictions) has yet to head out west means that’s exactly where GameDay is going in week 8. Stanford is a preseason Top 5 team and the Bruins have the potential to be a Top 10 team if they can get by Nebraska on the road in week 3. That sets up all you need for this to make the general public and the college football junkie care about watching.
It could really be tempting to take this crew to Death Valley one more time though as this is the week FSU and Clemson clash with a lot on the line. Either that, or this crew could say we can’t pass up a chance to head to South Bend just once and feature the game between USC and Notre Dame. However, that will require both of these schools to be relevant and I’m not betting on that happening at all this year.
Week 9: Texas at TCU
I want badly to say this crew does something super rare and goes back-to-back weeks and picks the UCLA at Oregon game because that backdrop and fanbase has proven to be CRRRAAAZZZYYY before. However, I just can’t see that happening and this nice little rivalry that is Texas and TCU could have a lot of national and conference implications – something that the UCLA vs. Oregon matchup may not have depending on the week before it’s results for the Bruins.
Besides, give me the potential for sunshine and decent weather over what could be craptastic stuff in the Pacific Northwest any day of the week for a TV show.
Week 10: Miami (FL) at Florida State
Chances are no matter what happens in week 10 the ESPN GameDay crew is going to wind up in the state of Florida. Most would say this week is going to be all about the “Worlds Largest Outdoor Party” or as most sane and non-P.C. people know it as “The Worlds Largest Cocktail Party” between Georgia and Florida. The problem with that assumption is that you’re banking on one or both of these teams being relevant nationally and in the SEC and call me crazy, but I don’t see that being the case by this point in time.
So, that means we’re going to shift our attention from Jacksonville to Miami because this cross-divisional game could be massively important to who ends up in the ACC championship game and it could also feature an FSU team that’s undefeated looking to carry the ACC flag once again.
The only other game even close to consideration for me is Michigan at Michigan State, but I’m just not sold on hanging out in the Midwest for a intrastate rivalry game featuring one team that could be in the Top 25 and another that probably won’t be by this point in time.
Week 11: LSU at Alabama
Really, did you think we’d predict this week any other way? Honestly, this game has been amazing theater over the past half a decade alone and it’s between the last four national champions as well – pretty simple to figure out where the bus is heading this week.
The only hiccup could come if the Tigers aren’t exactly world-beaters and in that case then look to Nebraska at Michigan to be your winner. It would feature two national brands and potentially could end up deciding the Legends division winner as well – so watch out for the come from behind win and don’t be super shocked if that is where this one goes if LSU isn’t up to par.
Week 12: Florida at South Carolina
How could this crew not go to Columbia? After all, they’ve found their 2013 Tim Tebow at ESPN in Jadeveon Clowney and all…. So, it’s off to the battle of the ‘Ole Ball Coach, so to speak. Seriously though, like I need to sell you on this game and the reasons why it’ll be the host?
On the strange chance that this game doesn’t happen look for contenders to be Oklahoma State at Texas or the NU journalists dream – North-freaking-western hosting Michigan with ESPN GameDay there. It could happen if the Wildcats and Wolverines are the two contenders in the Legends division.
Week 13: Texas A&M at LSU
Good lord is this week a tough one to pick, mainly because there are so many variables that could come into play, but I will say the SEC wins out here and why wouldn’t the ESPN GameDay crew want to be part of the party that is tailgating in Baton Rouge, right? This is the shakiest of all of my picks because these two teams could be totally relevant nationally or totally irrelevant inside their own divisions by this point in time.
What would be my fall back pick for this week then? Call me crazy, but I’m thinking sleeper this week and it could wind up being a trip to San Diego for a little Boise State vs. San Diego State action. Why? Well, because it could be the only chance the ESPN crew has to give a nod to the little guy on the season. I would’ve said the Fresno State at Boise State game – but that takes place on a Friday earlier in the season. If the Broncos are undefeated and SDSU is relevant in its division race this game could wind up the Cinderella story. Besides, who doesn’t love San Diego and it’s awesome weather?
Week 14: Alabama at Auburn
Here’s the truth of the matter this week – Yes, “The Game” a.k.a Ohio State at Michigan is the easy pick, however what if the week 14 game is just what everyone expects anyway and is just a precursor to the Big Ten championship game the next week? Why spoil the fun in a game that may not matter until the very next week anyway?
So, with that in mind and the final week of the regular season for most teams being all about rivalries give me the ‘Bama vs. Auburn rivalry and the potential for the No. 1 team in the nation to close out the season undefeated as the place to be.
These are just my opinions and if you want to continue the conversation you can follow me on Twitter @andycoppens.