My favorite time of the year – college football season is only less than four months away! Seriously…Summer can’t go fast enough this year especially with my (extreme) optimism for my Arizona Wildcats and new coach Kevin Sumlin.
With college football comes the best LIVE television show – ESPN’s College GameDay. I’ve been to the show a handful of times, in Tucson twice (2009 & 2015) as well as before the 2016 National Championship Game in Glendale.
Will GameDay make another appearance in the state of Arizona this season? If so, it certainly won’t be in Tempe!
Here are my best guesses as to where we’ll see Rece Davis, Desmond Howard, Kirk Herbstreit, and of course the legend Lee Corso in 2018:
Week 1 (September 1st): Washington vs. Auburn (in Atlanta)
If Notre Dame-Michigan was on ESPN, it would be a cinch for GameDay. Since it’s an NBC telecast, I’ll predict that this potential preseason top-15 matchup between the Pac-12 and SEC’s elite is the headliner.
Week 2 (September 8th): Clemson at Texas A&M
I wanted to pick a matchup between Stanford and USC out west…but this non-conference showdown featuring Dabo Swinney’s Tigers and Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies in College Station is too appealing. If A&M pulls off a shocker, Clemson’s chances of yet another College Football Playoff appearance would take a MAJOR hit.
Week 3 (September 15th): Ohio State at TCU (in Arlington)
Both teams should be inside the top-15 for this appealing matchup in Jerry’s World. Urban Meyer vs. Gary Patterson could be among the best coaching matchups we’ll see in 2018. USC at Texas would’ve been next on my list.
Week 4 (September 22nd): Nebraska at Michigan
If only Central Florida vs. Florida Atlantic wasn’t on a Friday night. Scott Frost’s Big 10 opener against arguably Jim Harbaugh’s best team in Ann Arbor. Sign me up for this matchup!
Week 5 (September 29th): USC at Arizona
Yes, I’m predicting this one. It’s either this or Ohio State-Penn State…but since the Buckeyes were on two weeks ago, it’s time for some action out West. And the marketability of Khalil Tate and his Heisman Trophy candidacy should make this a key game in the conference this season.
Week 6 (October 6th): Oklahoma vs. Texas (in Dallas)
GameDay hasn’t visited the Texas State Fair / Cotton Bowl in several years so it’s time for a return visit. Both teams have tricky games in September but I’d be surprised if either one was outside the top-25 for this matchup.
Week 7 (October 13th): Wisconsin at Michigan
I’m not confident in picking GameDay to return to the same site twice in a season. But I expect the Wolverines to be top-5 level good and the Badgers should be ranked up there at this point in the season as well. Can’t pass on this matchup.
Week 8 (October 20th): Off-the-grid (aka not a FBS game)
I don’t know what to think about this week of games. Outside of Michigan-Michigan State, it’s rather weak on paper. And I’m guessing that ESPN wants to avoid East Lansing after the many negative stories that have come out of the Spartans’ athletic department these last six months. So I’ll predict this as a random destination week…not the site of a notable Power 5 or even FBS game.
Week 9 (October 27th): Georgia vs. Florida (in Jacksonville)
Formerly “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” and one of the best single game day atmospheres in college football plays host to an undefeated Bulldogs squad and an upstart Gators team with new coach Dan Mullen. Should be a closer game than most would expect…
Week 10 (November 3rd): Alabama at LSU
I’m assuming the Crimson Tide will be unbeaten and though the game most likely will be on CBS, the scene around Death Valley in Baton Rouge should be incredible. Penn State vs. Michigan would also be a consideration if the Wolverines aren’t featured too often beforehand.
Week 11 (November 10th): Oklahoma State at Oklahoma
Auburn-Georgia might be the best game but ESPN can’t possibly go to an SEC site for the third week in a row. So ‘Bedlam’ it is…one of the more underrated in-state rivalries in the country that’s NOT played at the end of the season.
Week 12 (November 17th): Miami at Virginia Tech
Could this game determine the winner of the ACC’s Coastal Division? You bet. And also, as I predict, the first on-campus show site for an ACC school this season.
Week 13 (November 24th): Michigan at Ohio State
The game’s best rivalry might determine the Big 10’s East Division representative in the following week’s conference championship game. Is this the year Jim Harbaugh FINALLY beats his nemesis, Urban Meyer?
Week 14 (December 1st): SEC Championship Game
A no-brainer assuming it’s a rematch of the National Championship Game last January, Georgia vs. Alabama.
Week 15 (December 8th): Army vs. Navy (in Philadelphia)
A game well-deserving of its own week (no other FBS matchups will be played on 12/8). The singing of the alma maters on the field after the game is one of the BEST traditions in college football. The goal always: win the game and sing second!
(Side note: if I come close to getting half of these games / sites correct, I’ll be VERY impressed.)
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