There is no other pregame show as exciting or enticing as ESPN’s College GameDay. From the can’t beat atmosphere the students create every Saturday morning to the in-depth, touching segments impacting the players and teams in the game. It gets fans of all ages excited for not only the game its teasing but for the full 14 hours of college football that follows after the program by breaking down a large number of the day’s contests. It’s as much a staple to the game now as a top-25 upset or in-state rivalry.
The show announced weeks ago that it will be live in South Bend as No. 12 Notre Dame renews its rivalry with No. 14 Michigan. It was chosen over the likes of No. 9 Auburn vs. No. 6 Washington and Louisville vs. No. 1 Alabama. It helps that No. 8 Miami and No. 25 LSU face off on Sunday while No. 19 Florida State and No. 20 Virginia Tech play in an early ACC top 20 contest Monday. That automatically rules those enticing games out due to the timing of play.
Nothing against any of those four great opening weekend choices, but the decision to stop in South Bend is the correct one.
Michigan and Notre Dame first started playing in the 1880’s, but haven’t faced off since 2014 due to changes being made to the Fighting Irish’s schedule. The independent team agreed to play five games a year against ACC foes until 2037. It wasn’t the first time the two had a hiatus in play, but this marks the first meeting since playing yearly in 2002.
Fast forward to 2018, and both programs have high expectations (as always) and could see the seat get heated for either Wolverines’ coach Jim Harbaugh or Irish’s Brian Kelly.
But I’m not here to teach a history course in college football nor am I qualified for such.
Instead, I’m going to try and predict where the entertaining crew will head from weeks two through 14 with the show sticking with the great tradition in week 15 by going to Philadelphia for the annual Army-Navy game.
Note: Yes, there is a lot to unfold this season with teams both under performing or over performing. This is based off the preseason poll and matchups that presumably hold up over the course of the long season.
No. 2 Clemson at Texas A&M
- Clemson has been one of the best program’s over the last five years and all signs point to that continuing again this year behind the incredible defensive line it will field this fall. The matchup may look different in terms of the teams — having faced off just four times — but not in the coaches. Coaching headlines this contest. Dabo Swinney and Jimbo Fisher will face off for the ninth straight year even as Fisher leaves Florida State and the ACC for the SEC. In case you’re wondering, they are tied at four wins apiece with Swinney having the upper hand heading into this year’s game, winning the last three matchups. College Station will be exciting.
Maybe next time: No. 15 USC at No. 13 Stanford
No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 16 TCU in Arlington
- This is one of two preseason top-25 games joining No. 15 USC vs. No. 23 Texas, but this one seems to have more on the line with Ohio State in the mindset of playoff or bust. Not that it’s TCU’s fault, but the Big 12 is down right now and a win or tightly contested game against the Buckeyes could help the Horned Frogs’ chances of potentially locking up a New Year’s Six Bowl Game.
Maybe next time: USC at Texas
No. 13 Stanford at No. 24 Oregon
- There really isn’t anything against Texas, but it’s tough to see the crew go there for its contest against TCU after spending the previous show previewing the Horned Frogs in Arlington. Though, the show did do that last season with playoff hopeful Penn State when it hosted Michigan and traveled to Ohio State in back-to-back weeks. However, the expectations just aren’t there with either Texas team. So that leaves the crew heading to Eugene for the first time since 2014. Oregon’s and Stanford’s record should be unblemished heading into the game, but USC could have a say in that for the Cardinal. Safe to say, this is a crucial Pac-12 North match up with each team sporting Heisman hopefuls Justin Herbert (Ducks) and Bryce Love (Cardinal).
Maybe next time: TCU at Texas
Ohio State at No. 9 Penn State
- No need to remind fans of what happened in the previous two meetings and what is on the line. But we shall. The winner of this matchup has coincidentally represented the East in the Big 10 championship game the last two years — ironically winning there and still being left out of the Playoff . Oh, and the two games had great comebacks (14 points by PSU in 2016 and 18 points by OSU last year) and were decided by a combined margin of four points. Heisman hopeful Trace McSorley remembers that feeling last year and will surely be out for revenge, but Ohio State has Dwayne Haskins — a dual threat QB that many think has a higher ceiling than JT Barrett had. Expect this to be an explosive, high-scoring affair that comes down to the final minutes.
Maybe next time: Stanford at Notre Dame
Florida State at No. 8 Miami
- A lot of good games scheduled for the week, but with conference play well underway by this point of the season, the crew will look to get an all-ACC matchup into the works. Not a bad idea as Willie Taggart sets out to prove he is the right man for guiding a prominent football program in need of a boost while attempting to upset a Hurricanes team — and its turnover chain — that has goals of playing in the ACC title game and making the College Football Playoff.
Maybe next time: Notre Dame at No. 20 Virginia Tech, Texas at No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 9 Auburn at No. 18 Mississippi State
No. 3 Georgia at No. 25 LSU
- Ed Orgeron and the Tigers have their work cut out for them as they begin a home stand that will be see three nationally ranked opponents heading to Baton Rouge that include both Georgia and Alabama — teams that played for a national championship eight months ago. The good news for the Tigers is that home field advantage in Baton Rouge makes things tougher for teams such as the Bulldogs to get out with a win. The bad news is that the Bulldogs are expected to be just as good as last year with an experience Jake Fromm and Co. and have a chip on their shoulder with the way their season ended in Atlanta.
Maybe next year: No. 4 Wisconsin at Michigan, No. 11 Michigan State at Penn State
Michigan at Michigan State
- The Wolverines again are visited by the ESPN crew. Both teams should still be competitive in the loaded Big Ten East and this game would play a big role in who feels comfortable in the standings during the second half. Oh, and there’s of course in state bragging rights in a series Mark Dantonio and the Spartans have the 2-1 edge since Jim Harbaugh arrived in Ann Arbor.
Maybe next time: Oklahoma at TCU, Mississippi State at LSU
Clemson at Florida State
- Yes, a lot can change by this stage of the season, but there are currently no other top 25 match ups based off the preseason poll. Fear not because this game should be everything as advertised. Fisher may have left Tallahassee for College Station, but this rivalry won’t fade any. Both teams have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, and hopefully it ends up being a one-possession game. However, history isn’t on the side as my hope seeing as it’s only happened three times since 2010.
Maybe next time: Oregon at Arizona, Florida at Georgia
Stanford at No. 6 Washington
- The Pacific Northwest and Stanford get another visit. There are a lot of good games on the same day, and that leaves me feeling this won’t be the scene, but a lot of the other teams will get visits in the upcoming weeks. Washington has the greatest chance of getting the Pac-12 represented in the Playoff after missing out last year as evident by being a top 10 team in the preseason. Jake Browning vs. Love in what could even amount to a spot in the conference championship make this contest compelling. Even if people hardly stay up to see either of these terrific teams.
Maybe next time: Alabama at LSU, Penn State at Michigan, West Viriginia at Texas, UCLA at Oregon
Auburn at Georgia
- Because I think GameDay is visiting State College in week 5, that leaves me to think they won’t be back twice in a season for what could shape up to still being a top 10 matchup. Auburn has one of the toughest schedules in all of the land, and it would come as no surprise if it were to fall in the rankings setting up a reunion in State College. However, the SEC has dominated college football and much like the Big Ten, have teams beating up on one another to make it even more interesting down the stretch. This game — at least on paper — is one of the bigger games of the year in the conference and should be worth the daylong wait.
Maybe next time: Wisconsin at Penn State, Mississippi State at Alabama, Ohio State at Michigan State, TCU at West Virginia.
Miami at Virginia Tech
- I nearly picked USC at UCLA because with Chip Kelly at UCLA, that rivalry will be reach new heights in terms of talent, expectations and both playing on a gridiron in Los Angeles. Just not yet. However, I’ll take the only preseason top 25 game scheduled for the week. The Hokies don’t quite have the same expectations as the Hurricanes, but would it really surprise anybody if they somehow managed to pull off the upset and put an end to any playoff hopes the Hurricanes have? As the pressure amounts, teams often fold under it. It happens every year, and it could just happen to Miami in this contest. GameDay is also no stranger to Blacksburg as it hosted the show last year in a game against Clemson. Combined, the two have been featured 34 occasions — and were last the showcase game in 2005.
Maybe next time: USC at UCLA
Auburn at Alabama
- It’s rivalry week across college football and the sport does have some of the best in all of sports. But since 2010, it’s been mostly about Alabama and Auburn. The show has previewed this rivalry four times — 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2017 — since 2010. If you can correctly guess all the other games previewed during the same week in the previous eight years, you should tryout for Jeopardy. Anyhow, there isn’t a rivalry that currently matches that of the in-state SEC foes. It may not have an appearance in the SEC championship or playoff on the line (again, Auburn’s schedule is brutal), but I don’t think many others will either. The only one that could potentially have that kind of weight is Michigan at Ohio State.
Maybe next time: Michigan at Ohio State, LSU at Texas A&M, Florida at Florida State, Notre Dame at USC
P.S. the answer to that is Oregon at Oregon State (you guessed incorrectly already) in 2010, Notre Dame at USC in 2012, Oklahoma at Oklahoma State in 2015 and Michigan at Ohio State in 2016.
SEC Championship in Atlanta
- Having the show in Tuscaloosa a week earlier would almost certainly mean the show would head to Indianapolis for the Big Ten championship game. However, this isn’t exactly normal circumstances and the people who complain of there being an SEC bias can take a back seat to this one because there’s a great chance Georgia and Alabama would collide in this one. When you have a rematch of the national title game in the conference title game — and likely being a game that would knock the other one out of the Playoff scenario — you show up. The media and fans wouldn’t have to wait a full year to see this, making it the easiest choice. If it’s not between the two teams, then the show should head to the Big 10 title between Wisconsin and take your pick between Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State.
Maybe next year: Big Ten Championship, ACC Championship, Big 12 Championship.
Army-Navy Game in Philadelphia
- Not at all a prediction because they’ve been going to this game annually since 2014. It’s a great tradition and the build-up from GameDay as well as the CBS pieces always make us appreciate the game even more because it highlights the amazing things these players do on the field and off. With that said, the rivalry my brother (served in Army) tries to start with my father (served in Navy) will never get old. My brother will one day learn like I have that my father simply doesn’t care for sports.
Also: The video below will never get old