A year ago I wrote my most viewed article to date, an article previewing where the ESPN College Gameday crew would broadcast in 2008. I started the season by correctly picking six of the first eight locations but struggled down the stretch, ending with only 8 of 14 Gameday sites correctly picked. This year brings another season and another chance for me to improve where these guys will be headed, so lets get started...
Only two real contenders here, both being early out of conference matchups. Georgia travels west to play Oklahoma State while Alabama meets VaTech in the Georgia Dome, the second year in a row the Tide start the year versus the ACC in Atlanta. OKState has a couple chances to be included on the show as they host Texas and travel to Oklahoma. Don't forget the potential of playing in the Big XII Championship. This may be the one of only two chances all year for ESPN to feature a game with Alabama or Virginia Tech. With both teams likely being ranked in front of OK State and Georgia, I have to guess Gameday starts in Atlanta for a second straight season.
Pick: Virginia Tech vs. Alabama in Atlanta, GA
There isn't a whole lot of question to this one so why waste all the suspense? Sure Ohio State has layed an egg on the big-stage over the past three seasons but having and OSU/USC matchup is still a match up made in heaven for all parties involved. This will be a prime time game in Columbus and you better believe the Gameday crew will be there that morning.
Pick: USC at Ohio State
The first week of the season there isn't a real clear cut first or second choice for the four letter network. The biggest games of the day include Florida traveling to take on Lane Kiffin and the Vols at Neyland and Texas playing host to Texas Tech. I understand that Kiffin has given the Gators plenty of reason to develop dislike for the lighter shade of orange in the SEC East but Tennessee lacks talent this year, much like Texas Tech. The Vols aren't the draw in 2009 that they normally are, Texas Tech should be 2-0 against the 2-0 Longhorns at this point and ESPN wouldn't skip a chance to go to Austin, especially after how this one ended a year ago.
Pick: Texas Tech at Texas
There are certain weeks that lack an extremely "sexy" match up and as of right now, this weekend is one of those weekends. Ohio State hosting Illinois will be a great game that could go a long way in deciding the Big Ten but if OSU gets blown out by USC there is no way the Boo-Yah's are back in Columbus two weeks later. I fully expect USC to beat the Buckeyes again so throw this one out. Other match ups feature Penn State hosting Iowa and VaTech hosting Miami (FL). Since I feel that VaTech will be taken care of in week one I'll bet that ESPN heads to Happy Valley for this one.
Pick: Iowa at Penn State
A month in and the season is starting to take shape. A couple upsets will have taken place and some teams thought of as contenders just weeks ago are now battling for a chance to even make a January bowl game. What does today bring? Once again I feel there are two main parties that could host Gameday this morning. Once again, I feel that the Fighting Illini of Illinois will be passed over. I feel Illinois will have a great chance to go to a BCS game this season but this early in the year the hype won't be around the Fightin's as much as it needs to be to host Gameday. Instead an undefeated match up with Cal hosting USC out west will take the cake, even if the Nittany Lions and Fighting Illini are both unbeaten at this point.
Pick: USC at Cal
This is one of those weekends that guns are a blazing in the SEC. Alabama at Ole Miss, Florida at LSU, Georgia at Tennessee? Also be weary of Florida State hosting Georgia Tech as both seem primed for runs at the ACC crown. If LSU gets by Georgia the week before the Tigers and Gators should both be unbeaten on October 10th when they meet in Death Valley which would be impossible for ESPN to pass up.
Pick: Florida at LSU
The last week of the year with multiple unbeatens battling for positioning in the BCS Standings? Not a certainty but a strong possibility. The odds on favorite for this is the Red River Shootout in Dallas as both Oklahoma and Texas should be ranked in the top five. If either is to fall early then my money would be on Notre Dame hosting USC as both could very likely be undefeated at this point. Until the Irish beat USC they will lack the hype and I doubt the Longhorns or Sooners fall before this date.
Pick: Oklahoma vs. Texas in Dallas, TX
If you are going to miss a weekend of college football then this may be the weekend to step away and catch your breath. Looking ahead I can almost guarantee I predict this week incorrectly. As of now I do not see any two top 25 teams playing each other this week which will make picking a "Game of the Week" nearly impossible. Because I have to pick one I'll say Kansas hosting Oklahoma could feature teams who could very well both be unbeaten or only have one loss between the two. If the Sooners win the Shootout the week before this almost a guarantee...
Pick: Oklahoma at Kansas
Happy Halloween, what is the treat for today? These aren't the dead weeks but there is no doubt this is a stretch of the season that really does lack a true "marquee game". Depending how Georgia holds up early on their match up with Florida may be picked as the choice. I don't expect the Bulldogs to have a great season which will take eyes away from this game, I instead have this week staying in Big XII country.
Pick: Texas at Oklahoma State
Finally we are back on track with getting a huge game in the Midwest occurring this evening. The SEC lacks a killer match up and ESPN will want to get out of the Big XII after spending almost a month straight there. I have Penn State hosting Ohio State this week as the game that decides the Big Ten champ with a strong likelihood that at least one of the two is undefeated at this point.
Pick: Ohio State at Penn State
I'm conceding already, this week is nearly impossible to find a stellar match up in. This will be a week that a lesser major conference is put on display. Cal at Arizona could be a big game but it has the equal chance to have one team in it who has been a major disappointment to this point. Auburn and Georgia seems like the biggest SEC game, don't expect the coverage to be happening there. Instead, this week will go outside the BCS conferences with a couple of teams who look to crash the BCS party later in the season.
Pick: Utah at TCU
It's starting to come to an end as we only have two weeks of regular season action left. Penn State could clinch the Big Ten this week on the road in East Lansing. Oregon and Arizona has the potential to be a meaningless game as well while Florida is playing FIU so count the Swamp out of this one. My bet will be for this week to be in East Lansing as the last two times Joe Paterno won the Big Ten, ESPN has been done Gameday from the game's location.
Pick: Penn State at Michigan State
The final regular season weekend of the year and there are multiple places we could end up. Oklahoma/Oklahoma State could decide who represents the Big XII South in its conference title but the biggest game of the day will be an out of conference battle in the Southeast. No, I'm not talking about UGA/GTech, I'm talking about Florida/Florida State. I expect the Noles to have more of a "Bobby Bowden type year" and be in contention for a BCS game at this point. Unless major injuries I see Florida being unbeaten as well, a game that Gameday would not miss if its of this magnitude.
Pick: Florida State at Florida
There you are, my picks as to where College Gameday will be broadcast from each of the Saturday's this fall. I struggled the first time I did this, going only 8 for 14 in regular season games, hopefully I improve this year. Agree or disagree with my predictions? Feel free to comment away!