Will College Gameday Come to South Bend This Season?

With the Irish moving up in the polls and ranked opponents coming to South Bend in the coming weeks, the possibility on College Gameday coming to Notre Dame is very real.

The popular ESPN pregame show has been to Notre Dame eight times, including the first ever on-campus broadcast before the “Game of the Century” in 1993.

However, Notre Dame has hosted the show just once since 2005 (Stanford 2012), while the basketball version of the show has come to South Bend twice over that period of time.

So what has to happen for the Irish to host Gameday this year?

Well, that answer lies in the successes and failures of a couple teams – Michigan, N.C. State, Ohio State, USC, Penn State, and obviously Notre Dame.

As of now, the favorite to host College Gameday on Oct. 21 would most likely be Penn State as the child molestation conspirators host Michigan next week in the ABC prime time game. While Gameday is not necessarily tied to a game broadcasted on ABC or ESPN, it can give a site a slight edge.

The prospect of Penn State hosting took a major blow when Michigan lost to Michigan State on Saturday. Instead of a matchup of two top-10 teams, next Saturday’s game in Happy Valley looks far less intriguing with Michigan falling in the polls.

PSU has a bye this week, but Michigan plays at Indiana. If the Wolverines were to lose to the Hoosiers (only a seven-point favorite…..), then that would all but punch the ticket for Gameday to come to South Bend. However, if Michigan defeats IU as expected, Penn State would have to be the favorite to host.

Gameday also does a strong job of visiting places they haven’t been to in a few years – that philosophy will come into play in the next scenario. The last time College Gameday went to Penn State was in 2009.

Also, this is all based on the assumption that USC would be able to take care of business against Utah at home this Saturday. Although the Utes present a physical test, if Utah’s offensive performance against Stanford is any indication, the Trojans should have no problems.

Long story short: if Michigan wins, College Gameday goes to Penn State, if the Wolverines lose, Gameday comes to South Bend.

Gameday could also go off the beaten trail a bit and have Navy host for their game vs. UCF. Both teams are ranked and the Navy campus would provide a scenic backdrop for the show. However, Navy has to first get by a tough road game vs. Memphis this week to have any hope of hosting.

Looking at the slate of games for the following Saturday (Oct. 28), if ND can beat USC, the Irish have another great chance of hosting when they take on N.C. State.

The competition for hosting duties again pits Notre Dame against a Big Ten school. This time, the main competition is Ohio State as they host Penn State. Note: this game is in Fox’s afternoon window.

The fact that this game is in Columbus plays into Notre Dame’s favor. As mentioned above, College Gameday producer Lee Fitting, who ultimately has the final call on the show’s destination, likes to mix up the slate and tries to avoid hitting the same spots repeatedly. Ohio State has hosted Gameday more than any other location and the Buckeyes already had the show on campus in September for the OSU-Oklahoma game.

The Buckeyes play at Nebraska this week and follow that up with a bye, so it is probable OSU will remain in the top-10.

If the Irish can beat USC, they would likely climb into the top-12 and with the Wolfpack having just one game (at a depleted Pitt team) between then and now, N.C. State would likely find themselves well within the top-20. This would provide a marquee matchup and allow Gameday to come to South Bend if they snub the Irish the week before.

Irish fans should be rooting for Indiana to beat Michigan (as if they needed an added incentive to root against the Wolverines) this week as that would put the ND-USC as the clear-cut game of the week on Oct. 21.

However, if that does not happen, a loss by Ohio State to Nebraska this week or a Penn State loss to Michigan the following week would go a long way in allowing the Irish to host Gameday when they square off with N.C. State.

Even if PSU and Ohio State win out to their matchup, as long as the Irish beat USC, my money would be on Gameday coming to South Bend on Oct. 28.

Also of note, on Nov. 18, with the SEC playing its annual FCS scrimmages, the Notre Dame-Navy matchup is currently one of only two games that Saturday between ranked teams. Something to keep in mind if both teams keep winning.

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