There has been an interesting dynamic playing out in real-time as the sport of college football has shifted recently. This makes the prospect of predicting College Gameday locations even more fun in 2022. With all of the new television contracts splitting broadcast rights across the major networks, questions began to ring out whether Gameday would even bother with games that were part of FOX‘s Big Noon Kickoff or CBS‘s vaunted 3:30 PM EST timeslot.
What I’ve come to find in my research seems to suggest Gameday will continue traveling across the country, no matter who carries the game. We all remember last season when ESPN’s flagship college program was in East Lansing for the Michigan–Michigan State game, even though FOX’s Big Noon Kickoff was a mere half mile away on the same campus. In this season alone, of the seven on-campus Saturday programs, only three of the games did ESPN broadcast the matchup. One of those games was on ABC when Notre Dame traveled to Columbus to face Ohio State in Week 1.
The other seven Gameday locations were at Appalachian State, where their game against Troy was carried on ESPN+; not exactly the primetime slot Gameday games are known for. Most recently, the primetime game between NC State & Clemson rounded out the three locations that ESPN actually broadcasted. For the rest of their visits, Gameday has been at two FOX-carried games and two CBS-carried games.
What I wanted to do for the rest of the season was to predict where College Gameday is most likely to go. Fans do this every week, and plotting out the rest of the year will give everyone a nice list to keep an eye on to see where college football’s Saturday morning pastime will go.
All rankings for matchups using current AP rankings as of October 13th, 2022.
Week 8 will have a ton of matchups to select for the Gameday crew, from Syracuse and Clemson to Texas @ Oklahoma State. My feeling is that Gameday would love to travel to Eugene, where Bo Nix‘s Ducks face off against a budding star in UCLA‘s Dorian Thompson-Robinson. ESPN loves their stars, and considering the broadcast rights for the Heisman Trophy ceremony are owned by ESPN, I expect the West Coast to finally get some love with DTR starting to look like a darkhorse/Robert Griffin III type of Heisman candidate this season. We also add in the offensive explosion expected for this game, with a place in the PAC-12 title game at stake.
Win, lose, or draw this week for Penn State at the Big House won’t change this outcome, in my opinion. ESPN will already be kicking themselves that Big Noon can get the Michigan-Penn State game in Week 7; they won’t pass up the opportunity again, especially for OSU-PSU. This prediction is also a bit of projection because I hope against all hope that FOX does not force this game away from its destined primetime slot. A noon kick for this game would be an absolute travesty and cannot be allowed.
Gameday has also been to the last two matchups between the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions in State College, which almost guarantees this will be the third time in a row. It just seems impossible that ESPN will pass up a night-game whiteout at Penn State in favor of a much less energetic matchup between Kansas State and Oklahoma State or Florida and Georgia.
Out of all of my predictions so far, this one seems the most cut and dry. ESPN won’t be going back to Lawrence for a battle between Oklahoma State and Kansas, even if I may personally love to see it. The bitter rivalry between Tennessee and Georgia may finally be rekindled for the 21st century after the Vols program lay dormant for decades. This will be the first true wakeup test the Bulldogs have faced this season, and the dynamic star power on display is enough to guarantee a College Gameday visit.
SEC for another week, but this time we have Nick Saban vs. Lane Kiffin. These battles have been pretty tough over the past few years, with the Rebs showing surprising mettle whenever they’ve faced the dreaded Crimson Tide. Bryce Young‘s Heisman campaign will be in full force, and we all know ESPN has a monetary investment in the back-to-back storyline. The majesty of the Grove and the boldness of Kiffin, with assuredly many sound-bites for Rece Davis and crew to dissect, will give this game the proper Gameday feel for sure.
Maybe College Gameday can get UCLA to fill the Rose Bowl to 50% capacity. I kid only because it hurts so much knowing such a phenomenal football team is drawing fewer fans to their games than Rutgers does. In any event, the storied rivalry between USC and UCLA will have untold amounts of storylines this season. Not only did the PAC-12 do away with divisions meaning a conference title game spot may be on the line, but there is a very real chance both teams enter this game with one loss or undefeated and potentially could play into a College Football Playoff spot.
I’ve already spoken about the star power that Dorian Thompson-Robinson will draw, especially at the end of the year when Heisman talk will be abuzz. Lincoln Riley‘s reclamation project of the USC program, along with Caleb Williams bringing his own excitement, leaves very little chance that Gameday passes up the Battle of the Victory Bell.
College Gameday of the hardwood is always guaranteed to be at a Duke–North Carolina game if it falls on a Saturday during college basketball season. The Game is starting to become that same type of guarantee. Local fans here in Detroit know all too well what type of attention and narratives smother the war between the Wolverines and Buckeyes on November 26th. Outside of the Tennessee-Georgia game in Week 10, this will be another absolutely guaranteed appointment for College Gameday.
There is also the potential that, after dealing with health issues through the past month, Lee Corso may retire from Gameday during this broadcast. Columbus, Ohio, was where Gameday first began, and it would be a beautiful sendoff for an icon of college football to say goodbye to the sports program he built up 29 years ago.