Playing host to ESPN College GameDay is a prestigious honor for any school. That honor won't go to a specific school to open the season, though, as ESPN will tout a neutral-site game between Florida State and Oklahoma State.
ESPN College GameDay first reported the news via its official Twitter account:
According to Sandra Baker of the Star-Telegram, the Chris Fowler-led crew will converge on Sundance Square in downtown Fort Worth, Texas on Aug. 30. The annual Cowboys Classic will then be contested between the defending national champion Seminoles and the Pokes at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Fort Worth is a somewhat unconventional choice due to the fact that the show won't be held on a college campus or in front of a stadium, but College GameDay coordinating producer Lee Fitting believes that it is the best possible location, per Baker.
"It's a can't-miss spot," Fitting said. "Sundance Square has great natural energy and it's got a great vibe to it. ... We decided why not go to the people. That's when we have our success. We want to set a GameDay attendance record here. We want fans to come out and make signs. We want to be blown away."
Fitting also added that AT&T Stadium's status as the host of this season's National Championship Game and College Football Playoff Final makes it the perfect venue to highlight in the opening week, according to Rachel Margolis of ESPNMediaZone.com.
We can't think of a better place to kick off the College GameDay season than the location that will host the first College Football National Championship in January. We've had great luck in Fort Worth with ESPN's Super Bowl and Final Four coverage, and now we have a matchup that includes the defending national champions, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and a perennial top-25 team. These two teams are known for their passionate fanbases, so we challenge them to come out in full force on the opening Saturday.
While there is something special about College GameDay touring college campuses and being in the midst of truly partisan crowds, Aaron Brenner of the Charleston Post & Courier points out that kicking the season off from a neutral site has become a trend for ESPN:
With that said, the majority of fans figure to support Oklahoma State due to the close proximity. That will create an interesting atmosphere as the Seminoles look to begin the defense of their national title in what promises to be a hostile environment.
There will be storylines abound for ESPN as defending Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston will lead Florida State. Also, the palace that is AT&T Stadium is always good for several talking points.
When push comes to shove, there is no bigger game in the opening week of college football than Florida State vs. Oklahoma State, so it is tough to argue with ESPN's decision.
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