ESPN College GameDay: 11 Most Likely Stops in 2011
The first three weeks of ESPN's touring fan-frenzied college football show have been announced.
To open the 2011 season, GameDay will go to Arlington's Cowboys Stadium for the LSU vs. Oregon matchup on Sept. 3.
Then, on Sept. 10, Lee Corso, Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and team will travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., where the Wolverines welcome Notre Dame to town.
The tour will arrive in Tallahassee on Sept. 17 for Florida State vs. Oklahoma.
Will Corso be rehearsing his war chant and carrying face paint and a headdress in his luggage? Perhaps he will continue his love affair with the Duck mascot and will pick Oregon to win the Florida State-Oklahoma game.
Here are predictions of the 11 other stops ESPN College GameDay will be making this season.
Is your college town on the list?
Sept. 24, College Station, Texas: Oklahoma State at Texas A&M
Things are charging forward in College Station, with the Aggie rumors all abuzz throughout the world of college football. In what looks to be A&M's last season with the Big 12, they appear positioned to leave on a high note.
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have something else in mind for the going away party.
Last year Oklahoma State beat Texas A&M 38-35, and both teams carry high preseason rankings. The winner of this game will be an early season favorite to win the Big 12.
GameDay has visited the Home of the 12th Man in 2000 and 2006.
Also in consideration: USC at Arizona State
Arizona State looks to be a contender in the Pac-12 race. USC, of course, will not be.
Yet the Trojans have talent and will be an exciting team to watch in 2011, as always. The Sun Devils will be looking to avenge their heartbreaking 34-33 loss in Arizona last year.
Oct. 1, Madison, Wis.: Nebraska at Wisconsin
Plenty of folks are interested to see what Nebraska can do in its first year in the Big Ten conference.
Offering the Huskers a hearty welcome will be the Badgers of Wisconsin, who enjoyed an 11-2 season and a Rose Bowl appearance last year.
These two storied programs have only met five times, with Nebraska holding a 3-2 edge.
Last season on Oct. 16, Wisconsin beat then-No. 1 Ohio State in the key matchup covered by the College GameDay squad. (Corso picked it right!)
Also in consideration: Clemson at Virginia Tech
In what could be an important game in the battle for the ACC title, GameDay could make a stop in Blacksburg, Va.
If Clemson can take care of the likes of Auburn and Florida State at home it will be 4-0 with a high ranking coming into Week 5.
The show last stopped through Blacksburg to open the 2007 season.
Alabama at Florida
Alabama is on a national title run and many fans are rolling on the Tide wagon.
Florida is an unranked preseason team for the first time since last century (1999). However, GameDay likes Gainseville, Fla. It's dropped by 10 times.
Oct. 8, Baton Rouge, La.: Florida at LSU
LSU and Alabama are on a crash collision in their national title bids.
Returning most starters from the squad that dominated Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl, LSU has a strong claim on its high 2011 hopes. If the Tigers are successful, GameDay will follow them around the country this season besides hitting the road for Louisiana.
A ranked Florida team at this point in this season would be a surprise, but then, Florida is Florida—anything is possible.
Also in consideration: Auburn at Arkansas
Depending on how things go the first few weeks of the season, these two teams could both hold high rankings come Week 6.
With Florida rebuilding, ESPN may consider this game the better blockbuster.
Also, LSU, already featured on GameDay against Oregon, will likely get several more opportunities to be covered later in the season.
When was the last time the show visited Arkansas? 2006, in a late-season win against Tennessee.
Oct. 15, Eugene, Ore.: Arizona State at Oregon
Oregon loses to LSU in the first week of the season. Arizona State, though, beats USC in in the fourth week and comes into this game with a doughnut in the loss column.
High-powered Oregon will be ranked despite its early season tumble. Lee Corso will be thrilled to indulge in his infatuation with the Duck. (Let me hook you up with my shrink, Lee. She's terrific.)
The tour heads back to the West Coast to cover this important clash with Pac-12 title implications.
Also in consideration: Northwestern @ Iowa
Both of these teams are dark horses in the Big Ten this season. Always cheer for an underdog.
Bored with the Ohio States and the Wisconsins, I personally would be excited to see some new blood at the top of the polls.
When was the last time GameDay went to Iowa? 2006, when the country watched No. 13 Iowa lose to No. 1 Ohio State.
Oct. 22, South Bend, Ind.: USC at Notre Dame
Dating back to 1995, the road show has featured this rivalry game four previous times. The Jeweled Shillelagh trophy is currently in Irish possession and they would like to keep it that way.
The trophy had been sitting in Pasadena since 2002 with the Trojans dominating 8 straight games. (The 2005 win is now vacated as an NCAA sanction to the school's violations.)
Also in consideration: Oklahoma State at Missouri
If the Cowboys pull off the upset of Texas A&M, ESPN will be hot on their campaign for a Big 12 Championship.
Missouri looks formidable returning nine starters on offense from its 10-3 campaign last year. The Tigers could be ranked high late into the season and should be in the discussion as contenders in the Big 12.
When GameDay traveled to Missouri in October last season for the Tigers upset of then-No. 1 Oklahoma, the largest crowd to date attended the broadcast.
Take that, SEC!
Oct. 29, Columbus, Ohio: Wisconsin at Ohio State
Oct. 29 is a day of big showdowns in the Big Ten.
Ohio State has been covered more by GameDay than any other school. Sitting at a preseason rank of No. 16, some argue even that placement is too high.
I don't expect the drop to be too drastic from its Big Ten championship and Sugar Bowl victory.
As for future seasons, due to the harsh penalties from the NCCA, Ohio State will sink slowly into second, third, or even middle-of-the-pack finishes a la USC, Miami and SMU. Shame, shame. What goes up most come down?
Also in consideration: Michigan State at Nebraska
The question is which of these four teams will be ranked highest going into November?
If Nebraska husks the Badgers in an early season game, it will establish itself as the team to beat in the Big Ten in its first season joining the league.
GameDay last stopped by Memorial Stadium in 2007.
Nov. 5, Tuscaloosa, Ala.: LSU at Alabama
This is the big one!
Both teams will be undefeated and possibly be ranked No. 1 and No. 2. The winner will play in the BCS title game.
I have seen a tiger swim on TV before, right? Just my imagination?
Also in consideration: Texas A&M at Oklahoma
This is another big game in the Big 12.
Both teams hope that this game has national title implications. Oklahoma would love nothing more than to stick it to Texas A&M on its way out the Big 12 door.
Nov. 12, Boise, Idaho: TCU at Boise State
It's the return to the smurf turf!
Last September in Idaho, GameDay received a warm welcome. Boise State beat Oregon State 37-24.
Texas Christian will have at least one loss coming into this game, but will be ranked. Boise State will be undefeated, again, and in the BCS-busting conversation, again.
This will be the only time these guys meet in the Mountain West Conference, with TCU bolting to likely dominate the bigger fellas out East. The winner of this game will be crowned Kings of the Mountain, 2011.
A rematch of the last year's Fiesta Bowl is too delicious not to take the top spot for games this week.
Yum, Tostitos! Pass the salsa.
Also in consideration: Oregon at Stanford
Jumping at any opportunity to woo his duck friend, Corso may follow Oregon to check its luck against Stanford—the likely Pac-12 Champion.
Miami at Florida State
Everyone loves to gossip about a good scandal. Miami, that's your cue.
This year's Hurricane squad will be followed closely amidst all the hubbub. Miami is likely to be ranked at this point in the season and definitely has the talent to contend for the ACC title.
ACC preseason favorite Florida State has its best chance of taking the trophy in years. It last won the ACC in 2005.
Nov. 19, Tampa, Fla.: Miami at USF
Tampa, Fla. is a beautiful destination for a day trip in November.
For a program that started playing football in 1997 and only joined Division I FBS in 2001, USF is progressing at lightning speed.
Beating Clemson in last season's Meineke Car Care Bowl, the squad returns seven starters on each side of the ball. Picked behind West Virginia and Pittsburgh in preseason polls, USF has an early chance to prove it can achieve higher feats this season.
They open at Notre Dame. (Upset alert!)
This football program is going to continue on the rise under new head coach Skip Holtz.
Also in consideration: Mississippi State at Arkansas
Can these two teams surprise the SEC? Some think so.
After impressive endings to the 2010 season, both teams will be clipping at the hills of the Tigers and the Tide. An upset here or there will place this matchup in the national spotlight.
Nov. 26, Gainesville, Fla.: Florida State at Florida
Mmm, nothing like waking up on a late November morning to the smell of the Florida-Florida State rivalry.
Just ask these two fans.
1994: one of my most memorable college football experiences as a kid was gawking at my TV screen, watching in awe.
The game is infamous—The Choak at Doak. Going into the fourth quarter, Florida had a 31-3 lead. Florida State scored 28 points in that quarter, ending the game in a tie. This was before the NCAA realized that ties are for t-ball games.
In the last 37 seasons the series is tied up at 18-18-1, while Florida State beat Florida last season for the first time since 2003.
GameDay agrees with me about this rivalry. It's traveled to feature the game six times in the show's history.
Dec. 3, Manoa, Hawai'i: Brigham Young at Hawaii
Hawaii is a lovely destination for a day trip in December.
Reminiscent of 2008, the Warriors will have a WAC Championship secured and zero losses in this last week of the season. A top 10 ranking will put them in the BCS buzz again.
In Provo, Utah, expectations are escalated. A whole new world of possibilities have opened up for the program going independent in 2011.
BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall made upgrades to his coaching staff in the offseason, but Cougar Nation sits on the shoulders of confident sophomore quarterback Jake Heaps, who has been named a dark horse for this year's Heisman Trophy.
Expect Heaps to lead the team to a high ranking at the end of the season.
GameDay has not taken the trip across the Pacific Ocean. This season should provide the opportunity for the analysts to work on their December tans.
Also in consideration: Oklahoma at Oklahoma State
An in-state rivalry with possible Big 12 and national title implications?
Is your school missing from the list? What other big games are you looking forward to that should be getting GameDay's attention this year?