Predicting the 13 College Football Sites That ESPN GameDay Heads to in 2012
ESPN's College GameDay has become staple of our college football culture.
Whether you enjoy Lee Corso or not, there is no better place to turn on football Saturdays for news, predictions and analysis (at least, not on the television, as all of these needs can be more than amply met by our coverage here at B/R).
Erin Andrews, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and Chris Fowler provide a pleasant way to recover on Saturday morning from whatever festivities were enjoyed Friday night.
So where is the gang heading in 2012?
It's sometimes difficult to predict where the show will head, but here is a list of 13 spots we predict the crew will set up shop, including some of the biggest non-conference games of the season.
Headgear sold separately.
Week One: Arlington, Texas
Alabama vs. Michigan
Saturday, September 1
There is really no other option here.
Two of the most storied programs in the history of the game meeting in Jerry Jones' incredible shrine to football.
The Tide and Wolverines both have BCS title aspirations, and a win here is a must for either one to keep those hopes alive.
As this is the premier non-conference game of the year, there is no doubt the crew shows up to shed some perspective on the subject.
Week Two: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Washington at LSU
Saturday, September 8
The pickings are slim this weekend, with the prime non-conference matchups being Nebraska vs UCLA and Miami vs. Kansas State.
Keith Price is an explosive quarterback, with the potential to do damage on the ground or through the air. While it would be a tall order for the Huskies to pull off the upset, this is an entertaining proposition.
Les Miles' squad will be trying to settle into their roles early in the season and have all kinds of high expectations on their shoulders.
Should be a good one.
Week Three: Stanford, California
USC at Stanford
Saturday, September 15
Stanford is without Andrew Luck and two All-Americans on the offensive line.
Their schedule to this point is soft, as San Jose State and Duke are both squads that the Cardinal can handle even with all their attrition.
Stanford's campus is gorgeous, and it's a chance to get USC on GameDay in a season where they are going to once again be BCS title contenders.
Where they should be: Arkansas vs. Alabama
CBS gets first dibs on SEC games, so ESPN misses out on this one.
Both of these teams have the potential to win the conference, and this game will be much more competitive than last year's edition.
Week Four: Tallahassee, Florida
Clemson at Florida State
Saturday, September 22
Each of these squads have dreams of an ACC title, and chances are they will both be undefeated.
Clemson has a tough season opener against Auburn, but if they can figure out issues along both their offensive and defensive lines, it's a very winnable contest.
As for these two teams' matchup, the Seminoles will be out for revenge after last season's fiasco, and they have the talent to get it.
If Lee Corso pulls out a Tigers' mascot head, you can almost count on the Seminoles winning the game.
Where they should be: BYU vs. Boise State
This is going to be a great game. Boise State loses some talent but still has potential to take the MWC title. As for BYU, that defense is going to be scary good, and quarterback Riley Nelson is legit.
Week Five: Lincoln, Nebraska
Wisconsin at Nebraska
Saturday, September 29
Nebraska's young team is maturing, and they have the potential to make some noise on a national level.
Taylor Martinez, for all his foibles, has incredible talent and plenty of weapons around him to put up points.
In 2011, the Badgers hosted Nebraska in their first Big Ten game and gave them a beating to the tune of 48-17.
This game has some serious Big Ten title implications and should be the GameDay crew's destination.
Week Six: Chicago, Illinois
Miami vs. Notre Dame
Saturday, October 6
There are some good conference matchups taking place on this weekend, but how can you pass up Catholics vs. Convicts, the Redux?
Miami is going to be heading up the long road back to respectability, and the prospect of a big game in Chicago against Notre Dame should lure the GameDay crew into town, if only for the novelty of the experience.
Notre Dame could very well make a run at a BCS game this season, courtesy of a stout defense.
Even if NBC broadcasts this game, GameDay should make their way to the Windy City for the next iteration in this rivalry.
Week Seven: Dallas, Texas
Texas vs. Oklahoma
Saturday, October 13
The rivalry formally known as the "Red River Shootout" pits two historic programs against each other in a grudge match of epic proportions.
At least, that's what we hope for, not final scores such as last season's 55-17 pasting by Oklahoma.
Texas' offense in 2012 leaves a little something to be desired, but a stout defense, coupled with some shortcomings in Oklahoma's secondary, could keep this interesting.
Be sure, if you choose to attend this game, that you eat as much fried food as possible, and don't ask what the item you are eating actually is.
Week Eight: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Michigan State at Michigan
Saturday, October 20
Mark Dantonio's squad has carried a pretty stout swagger for the last several seasons. They have not lost to Michigan in the past four years.
This game will be huge in determining the Big Ten champ.
Both of these teams have a legit shot at the Rose Bowl this season and the potential to even reach the BCS title game.
Week Nine: Norman, Oklahoma
Notre Dame at Oklahoma
Saturday, October 27
This late in the season, there are not that many premier non-conference matchups.
This season, we are blessed with such a late-season meeting.
Oklahoma is going to spend the season taking out its frustration over last season's failures on the rest of the Big 12, while Notre Dame will just be trying not to turn the ball over five times per game.
The fact that this game is in Norman seems to tip the scales toward Oklahoma, but don't be surprised if the Irish defense has a say in the outcome.
On a side note, Lou Holtz will pick the Irish to win this game, even if they have yet to win a game in the season.
Week Ten: Los Angeles, California
Oregon at USC
Saturday, November 3
Alabama and LSU could very well be in another battle of top five teams this weekend, but with CBS' rights to SEC games taking precedence, it's unlikely GameDay will wind up at a non-ESPN game.
It happened in last season's edition of the game, but without this being a No. 1 vs No. 2 matchup again, I don't see it happening.
As for USC/Oregon, the Ducks have some holes to fill, but any team that features De'Anthony Thomas is a threat to put up huge points.
Meanwhile, Matt Barkley has a great stable of wide receivers and BCS title aspirations.
Where they should be: Alabama at LSU
Week Eleven: Columbia, South Carolina
Arkansas at South Carolina
Saturday, November 10
There is a very real shot that these two teams will be battling it out for the SEC's second BCS spot.
Two of the best offenses in the conference will be going head to head, and it features two of the more entertaining coaches in the game, Bobby Petrino and Steve Spurrier.
The GameDay crew seems to hit up a somewhat off-the-wall location every season, and this might be the one, if ESPN does the game.
Week Twelve: Morgantown, West Virginia
Oklahoma at West Virginia
Saturday, November 17
Very, very interesting.
West Virginia, in their first season in the Big 12, will likely challenge for the conference title.
Geno Smith et al. are an extremely explosive unit—just ask Clemson.
If the two teams are in a position to play with the conference title on the line, you better believe GameDay will be in Morgantown.
Week Thirteen: Columbus, Ohio
Michigan at Ohio State
Saturday, November 24
The game is likely to be the draw this weekend, even though the Iron Bowl could be a matchup of two highly ranked units.
This is, of course, dependent on the success of the two teams, which will likely be extremely good.
Ohio State will field a better defense than last season, and Braxton Miller is going to be scary good after having a year to mature.
No way ESPN passes up the biggest rivalry in the sport if both teams have solid records.