Little did we know back in the summer that the UCF-Navy game could not only be a potential top-25 matchup or a battle of undefeated teams. But could it also be the game that ESPN’s College GameDay actually goes live from?
I know. This week, UCF is hosting Homecoming against East Carolina at 7:00 p.m., and everyone will say, ‘Hey, focus on this week and go to the game,’ which makes all the sense in the world.
I’ll let Jeff Sharon and Brian Murphy go ahead and focus on that this week, as I have already looked ahead to the big game two weeks from now when the Knights travel to Annapolis to take on Navy.
It’s a game that many, including myself, have had circled since the schedule came out in the summer. I booked my flight (with special thanks to UCFSports.com’s Brandon Helwig) as I had been told by many that this is the trip you need to do if you were going to any UCF road game.
ESPN College GameDay is one of the most popular shows in all of television. They try to go to all the marquee games of the week or visit unique venues. It brings fans out early in the morning for one of the great scenes in all of TV. One of the signature moments of the show is when Lee Corso picks the game they are at with the mascots’ headgear.
But UCF has never been involved in a Saturday ESPN College GameDay. Technically, UCF was part of a special ESPN College GameDay on Sept. 1, 2005, when the Knights opened the season on a Thursday night at South Carolina which marked Steve Spurrier’s first game as the Gamecocks’ head coach.
But the Knights have never been part of a game that ESPN College GameDay was at on a Saturday. This may be best and only chance this season.
I know some have brought up the USF game on Black Friday, but that will not happen. They will never do GameDay on a Black Friday, especially with so many national big rivalry games on that weekend to choose from every year. It is one of many reasons why I am against having the UCF-USF game on Thanksgiving weekend. Having a College GameDay at the USF-UCF game would make a big impact and give the rivalry a big boost locally and nationally, as GameDay brings great exposure to the programs that host them.
If you look at the college football schedule on Oct. 21, there are currently only three games on that day that involve top-25 matchups. And if UCF and Navy win this weekend, that game would be the only one where both teams would be unbeaten.
So what are the chances GameDay goes to Annapolis, where they have never gone before? What needs to happen for GameDay to be in Annapolis? Here is the breakdown of games I think are in play.
#22 UCF at #25 Navy – 3:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network
Now, let’s start with this: Both UCF and Navy have to win this weekend to have a shot of hosting GameDay. Navy has a tough game at Memphis this Saturday. A loss knocks Navy out of top 25 and ends any chance of GameDay being there. Navy has been part of four college football games where College GameDay was at but has never hosted College GameDay in Annapolis.
If ESPN College GameDay were able to do a show from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, which many who have been there say is one of the great environments in the sport, this could be the best shot to do it. Plus there is a connection with Lee Corso, who coached at Navy as an assistant from 1966-1968:
Bringing Corso back to Annapolis would be a cool storyline. Plus, Corso lives in Orlando, which he brings up when he talks about UCF in “Beautiful Downtown Orlando.” There are ties to UCF and Navy for Corso that GameDay can play off of for the show.
Chances of Gameday being at UCF-Navy if both are undefeated: 40 percent
Chances of Gameday being at UCF-Navy if either one loses this Saturday: 0 percent
If UCF and Navy both win, who are the biggest challengers to host GameDay?
#17 Michigan at #3 Penn State – 7:30 p.m. on ABC
This is the favorite and perhaps the biggest obstacle for UCF-Navy having College GameDay. The game is on ABC as it will be the Saturday night primetime game with Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit. It is a national game with two big brands and should be the most-watched college football game of the weekend.
Penn State has hosted GameDay five times but not since Sept. 26, 2009, when Penn State hosted Iowa.
But the door may have opened on GameDay not being there after this past weekend, when Michigan was upset at home by Michigan State, dropping the Wolverines in the polls. Plus, on Saturday, Oct. 28, Penn State travels to Ohio State, which will be the favorite for GameDay that weekend. Would GameDay want to be at back-to-back Big Ten games involving Penn State?
Michigan has to play at Indiana this Saturday. What if the Wolverines were to go down for a second straight week? That could force GameDay to go in different direction.
Chances of GameDay being here (if Michigan wins Saturday): 50 percent
#13 USC at #16 Notre Dame – 7:30 on NBC
The Trojans and Irish have one of the great rivalries in the sport, and Notre Dame was the site of the first-ever College GameDay on-location show back on Nov. 13, 1993 for the showdown between then-No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Notre Dame.
Notre Dame has hosted GameDay eight times with the last coming against Stanford on Oct. 13, 2012, when Stanford came in ranked No. 17 while the Irish were ranked No. 7. But this game is an NBC primetime game that will go head-to-head against ABC’s Michigan-Penn State game. GameDay would rather pick a game that airs on ESPN or ABC against direct competition if the games are equal, which it would be in this case. Plus both USC and Notre Dame already have a loss.
Chances GameDay would be at USC-Notre Dame: 5 percent
Best of the Rest
GameDay likes to go off the board from time to time, especially if the slate is not very good, like this Saturday as GameDay is visiting the top-ranked team in the FCS, James Madison. This is the second time GameDay will be going to JMU; they went there on Oct. 24, 2015.
GameDay may decide to go off-board again if things do not go how they would like. Let’s say Michigan, USC, UCF and Navy all lose this Saturday. They may look elsewhere in the FCS or possibly to Pullman, Wash., where Washington State will host Colorado on ESPN at 10:45 p.m. Eastern. GameDay has never been to Pullman, but they teased going there one day, and on this past Saturday’s show, they showcased the Washington State flag that has been at 200 straight College GameDays.
But Colorado has three losses on the season, and GameDay host Rece Davis mentioned this past Saturday about possibly going to Pullman for Stanford-Washington State on Nov. 4.
Best of the Rest Chances: 5%
So if you want College GameDay at Annapolis on Oct. 21, root for Navy to beat Memphis on Saturday. Then UCF needs to take care of ECU. It also would not hurt if Michigan got upset by Indiana. We can then go to GameDay and ask them what Rece Davis, David Pollack and Jesse Palmer like to ask us :