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My favorite time of the year – college football season is only less than four months away! Even though my Cubbies are off to a fairly exciting start, I CANNOT WAIT for college football to start. And what’s even more awesome is that my two favorite teams, UofA (my alma mater) and Miami (my parent’s alma mater) play a week early on August 24th. Talk about heaven for this college football diehard!
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.
Looking at the college football schedule in 2019, at first glance, it’s very unimpressive. The lack of scintillating matchups, especially in the non-conference season, is noteworthy. While last year I thought I wouldn’t get 50% correct (I went 9-6 with a few freebies included), I’d almost venture to say that anything less than 75% correct in 2019 would be a disappointment.
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 2019:
Week 0 (August 24th): Miami vs. Florida (in Orlando)
I’m not sure what to think about this one…will Gameday do an in-studio preview show as per usual or will they properly celebrate the unofficial beginning of the 150th year of college football in style?
Week 1 (August 31st): Auburn vs. Oregon (in Arlington)
Honestly this is one of the most lackluster true opening weeks in college football that I can remember from a big name matchup standpoint. It was hard to realistically find a notable second choice beyond this matchup of two preseason top-20 teams.
Week 2 (September 7th): LSU at Texas
Easy decision here – this matchup of New Year’s Day big bowl game winners will be the first matchup in 2019 of top-ten teams. Texas A&M-Clemson isn’t a bad alternative though but Gameday did that last year in College Station.
Week 3 (September 14th): Stanford at Central Florida
Another week full of non-compelling non-conference matchups in CFB. This matchup seems likely to be the only among ranked teams in Week 3. Oklahoma-UCLA would be the runner-up but I’m not sold at all on Chip Kelly’s Bruins just yet.
Week 4 (September 21st): Notre Dame at Georgia
A non-conference matchup of two likely top-10 teams!? YES! As for the game itself, watching Notre Dame get smacked down by another SEC team…no thanks! Georgia hasn’t hosted Gameday in six seasons so this one might be the biggest lock on ESPN’s season schedule.
Week 5 (September 28th): Ohio State at Nebraska
I’m not sure whether Scott Frost’s team is ready to break out in Year 2…but they’ll have a heck of a chance to make a statement in their 2019 Big 10 home opener. Can you believe that it’s been 12 years since the Cornhuskers hosted College Gameday? Mind-boggling! (And no, sorry Husker fans, the home team isn’t winning this one).
Week 6 (October 5th): Auburn at Florida
While Stanford at Washington also is compelling, SEC vs. SEC matchups move the ratings needle just a bit more. Plus, the Huskies will have their chance to host later this month.
Week 7 (October 12th): Oklahoma-Texas
This is the toughest choice for ESPN to this point. Alabama-Texas A&M seems like a great choice as do Florida-LSU and USC-Notre Dame…but I’ll take this matchup of teams likely to both be in the top-10 for their annual matchup at the Texas State Fair.
Week 8 (October 19th): Oregon at Washington
In what might be the Pac-12 game of the year, the winner of this game would seem to have a leg up to win a very difficult Pac-12 North Division.
Week 9 (October 26th): Notre Dame at Michigan
Last year the Fighting Irish won a Week 1 thriller that propelled them to an undefeated regular season. I’d take the Wolverines this time around as I always love the revenge angle. I love seeing awesome non-conference matchups later in the season such as this one!
Week 10 (November 2nd): Georgia vs. Florida (in Jacksonville)
Formerly “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party”, there’s an above-average chance that both of these teams are ranked in the top-10 at the time of this yearly ritual.
Week 11 (November 9th): LSU at Alabama
Quite possibly the easiest choice of the season. Gameday very rarely misses one of these matchups and it’s their best chance to visit Alabama’s campus all season.
Week 12 (November 16th): Yale at Princeton
It’s the 150th anniversary of college football and you’d think the producers at ESPN will try to get cute with their pick one of these weeks. Considering the FBS schedule looks pretty awful with a lack of marquee games…don’t be surprised if they head to New Jersey, the site of the first college football game in November of 1869.
Week 13 (November 23rd): Penn State at Ohio State
I’ve already picked Georgia twice and once at home so don’t think ESPN would cover them for a second home game. this time vs. A&M. Plus Gameday likes to visit The Horseshoe in Columbus generally once a year.
Week 14 (November 30th): Ohio State at Michigan
This is the best rivalry in all of sports…and both teams WILL be in the top-10…so it’s a must cover for ESPN. Sorry Iron Bowl…but the storyline of Jim Harbaugh trying to get his first victory against OSU is must see theater!
Week 15 (December 7th): SEC Championship Game in Atlanta (likely Georgia vs. Alabama)
Could this be #2 against #3 with a spot in the College Football Playoff on-the-line (and maybe a trip to the Fiesta Bowl)? No ACC Championship Game opponent vs. Clemson would bring nearly as much intrigue.
Week 16 (December 14th): Army vs. Navy (in Philadelphia)
There is no better tradition in sports than the singing of the alma maters every year after the Army-Navy game. As I’ve gotten older, especially since 9/11, this one gives me the chills each and every season. As with some of the other games above (OU-Texas, UGA-FLA, OSU-MICH), this is on my all-time CFB bucket list.