A way-too-early prediction of the B1G's top 5 chances to host College GameDay in 2019
We’re a short 8 months away from getting to wake up and watch College GameDay before a full Saturday of football.
Yeah. Eight months is a long time to wait.
But while we have 2/3 of a year to wait for the next Lee Corso big head, we don’t have to wait to predict the B1G host sites for GameDay in 2019.
Before you get mad about how Michigan-Ohio State loaded this is, consider this. The last time GameDay visited a B1G school — that’s not including neutral site/conference championships/bowl games — was for Oregon-Michigan State in Week 2 of 2015. Since then, GameDay visited a B1G school 12 times.
Every game involved either Michigan or Ohio State.
So yes, that has to be taken into account. Only one game on this list is absent of 1 of those 2 teams.
I also took into account things like competition of other national games, and where a team is projected to be at for that matchup. I’m not high on Penn State in the preseason, which is why I don’t have the Lions making an appearance. But there are still plenty of B1G matchups that’ll be enticing for the GameDay crew to make the trip for.
It’s worth noting that I don’t include neutral-site matchups, nor do I include games in which the B1G team is on the road in a non-conference headliner.
With that said, here are my way-too-early rankings of the best chances the B1G has to host GameDay in 2019:
5. Sept. 21: Michigan at Wisconsin
The competition — Notre Dame at Georgia, Tennessee at Florida
Here’s the good news. The last time this game was played in Madison in 2017, GameDay was in the house. This time, the odds are strong that both Michigan and Wisconsin will enter as undefeated ranked teams. That, plus GameDay’s 4 trips to Madison since 2010 suggests that this is at least possible.
Well, the bad news is that there’s about a 99.9 percent chance that the crew will instead head to Notre Dame-Georgia.
A pair of preseason top-10 teams with Heisman Trophy-contending quarterbacks playing in a fun home-and-home non-conference showdown is super attractive for GameDay. It would make sense to head back to Athens for the first time in 6 years, considering how much success the program had under Kirby Smart in the last 2 years.
The only chance that this matchup doesn’t host the ESPN pregame show is if Notre Dame or Georgia suffers a significant upset loss in the first few weeks. I wouldn’t bet on that.
4. Nov. 9: Iowa at Wisconsin
The competition — LSU at Alabama, Iowa State at Oklahoma, Clemson at NC State
Nobody would be surprised if Iowa and Wisconsin were both ranked and playing for a division title come November. Last year was the first time during the Playoff era that the winner of that matchup didn’t decide the B1G West. The only chance this one would have is if that trend is restored.
Even then, that still might not be enough. Despite all of those division titles at stake, GameDay has still never been to an Iowa-Wisconsin matchup.
The chances of that streak ending in 2019 aren’t that favorable considering the national slate is decent. LSU-Alabama is the obvious favorite with the Tigers likely starting as a top-10 team. If NC State is having one of those back end of the top 25 seasons with ACC title hopes alive, a date with Clemson would be plenty intriguing.
And while Iowa State-Oklahoma isn’t even one of the Big 12’s best matchups, if Matt Campbell has the Cyclones in the top 25, GameDay might use that as an excuse to get down to Norman to see Jalen Hurts in an Oklahoma uniform.
3. Sept. 28: Ohio State at Nebraska
The competition — USC at Washington, Washington State at Utah
I know, I know. You think I’m sipping the Nebraska Kool Aid too much. But consider this. A lot of this has to do with timing. The Huskers to indeed have plenty of preseason buzz. If they start off the year 3-0 with a win at Colorado — a perfectly realistic possibility against a team with a first-year coach in Mel Tucker — Lincoln would be an attractive spot for GameDay to get back to.
The hype of the Scott Frost era would be at a fever pitch, especially with the defending B1G champs rolling into town. Everybody knows that GameDay hasn’t been to Lincoln since 2007, and even if the buzz is a bit overdone, it would still make plenty of sense for the crew to end the drought.
Keep in mind that even with Dwayne Haskins, that was a close game in Columbus last year. With Justin Fields and Adrian Martinez as young, potential Heisman Trophy candidates, this game won’t lack star power or intrigue.
And for what it’s worth, the competition looks extremely weak. USC will have a tough time generating much preseason buzz, and though Washington State hosting GameDay in 2018 was awesome, that ended a 16-year drought of the program just appearing in one of their games. Without Gardner Minshew, they might not have enough juice as a September road team to make the trip to Utah worthwhile.
Don’t be surprised if Lincoln finally gets GameDay back on campus in 2019.
2. Nov. 30: Ohio State at Michigan
The competition — Alabama at Auburn
In five of the last 6 years, The Game or the Iron Bowl hosted GameDay. My guess is that’ll happen again. As of right now, it’s a coin flip that’ll be decided on which game is more relevant. In my opinion, the odds are more favorable that OSU-Michigan will win that argument.
Part of that is related to the belief that Auburn has a brutal schedule. The odds of the Tigers recapturing their 2017 magic and winning another Iron Bowl en route to an SEC West title don’t seem great.
Say what you want about Ohio State-Michigan during the Jim Harbaugh era, but 3 of the 4 times the teams have met, they both still had chances to win the division and play for a B1G Championship. It wouldn’t be surprising if that happened again and GameDay made its second consecutive trip for one of the best rivalries in sports.
As for whether Michigan can finally get over the hump, that’s a different discussion.
It's time for THE GAME!
Lee Corso's rolling with … pic.twitter.com/FMML9MgFum
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) November 24, 2018
1. Oct. 26: Wisconsin at Ohio State/Notre Dame at Michigan
The competition — Washington State at Oregon, Auburn at LSU
I hedged. Sue me. I promise that I hedged for a reason.
That being I believe Wisconsin-Ohio State and Notre Dame-Michigan are the 2 overwhelming choices to host GameDay that weekend.
I’d probably give the Wolverines the early edge to host after GameDay made the trip to South Bend for last year’s opening week showdown between the 2 teams. Both squads are expected to start off in the top 15 and they figure to be relevant in the final weekend of October. It’s probably my favorite non-conference rivalry, and with two polarizing teams with massive national brands, GameDay wouldn’t have any concern about generating buzz.
The only reservations I’d have with that as the obvious choice is that if Michigan falls at Penn State the week before. GameDay usually avoids hosts with teams coming off a loss. And if GameDay plans on making the trip to Ann Arbor for The Game, perhaps holding off on Notre Dame-Michigan will be the call.
If that does happen, I’d expect the crew to travel to Columbus for Wisconsin-Ohio State. Two potential favorites to win their respective divisions always makes for an intriguing matchup. My guess is that this projects as the Buckeyes’ best home game to host GameDay, which visited Columbus 5 times in the last 4 seasons. Add in the storyline of 2 preseason Heisman candidates in Fields and Jonathan Taylor and it could make plenty of sense.
Either way, it seems extremely likely that GameDay will be on a B1G campus on Oct. 26.