College football is back, and with it comes the return of the best sports show in all of sports: ESPN College GameDay. Now in its 26th year of the live show format (the program technically began in 1987 as an in-studio show), College GameDay kicked-off the season in proper fashion at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, highlighting the huge Miami vs. Florida ‘Week 0‘ matchup. And while the atmosphere was outstanding, next week’s feature of Auburn and Oregon in the Advocare Classic is bound to be something special, and is just one of the many college football matchups that could feature the Pac-12 on College GameDay.
Having national attention shift to the Pac-12 is critical, especially as the conference looks to bolster its reputation. There’s no better way of doing this than a featured matchup on College GameDay. Yes, the conference has to win on the field and yes, many of the games listed below could have their “watchability” change as the season progresses, but there’s no denying the influence ESPN College GameDay has in drawing national attention.
Here are the games that could get the Pac-12 on College GameDay throughout the course of the year.
Weeks Ruled Out
Before taking a dive into what weeks and games could see Pac-12 teams featured on College GameDay, there are a few weeks where the show is pretty much booked sans Pac-12.
- Week 2: Texas A&M vs. Clemson
- Week 4: Michigan vs. Wisconsin OR Notre Dame vs. Georgia
- Week 9: Auburn vs. LSU OR Notre Dame vs. Michigan OR Penn State vs. Michigan State
- Week 10: LSU vs. Alabama
- Week 14: Ohio State vs. Michigan
With just five weeks out of contention to feature the Pac-12 on College GameDay, the conference could see itself attract a fair share of national attention, even if this means Rece Davis and the gang will have to wake up a bit earlier.
Stanford vs. UCF OR Oklahoma vs. UCLA (Week 3)
After College GameDay’s undoubted visit to Clemson for Texas A&M vs. Clemson, the Pac-12 has a legitimate shot at seeing one of its teams featured on the show in week three, with Stanford, Arizona State and UCLA all in play. Much of this will depend on the outcome of UCLA’s week one matchup against Cincinnati and Stanford’s brutal first two weeks (vs. Northwestern, at USC), but should both those teams head into week three undefeated, their matchups are attractive enough for a College GameDay appearance. Oklahoma vs. UCLA, in particular, could be an outstanding matchup. The backdrop of the Rose Bowl would be a welcomed bonus.
Biggest Competition: Iowa vs. Iowa State, Clemson vs. Syracuse
Washington State vs. Utah OR USC vs. Washington (Week 5)
The Washington schools have a great shot at seeing the Northwest’s best on College GameDay come week 5 of the season, especially if their opponents can play to some lofty expectations. Washington State vs. Utah is particularly intriguing and would be a great feature of the Pac-12 on College GameDay, giving Utah a shot to showcase its passionate fan base and WSU to continue its upward trajectory.
Biggest Competition: Ohio State vs. Nebraska
California vs. Oregon OR Washington vs. Stanford (Week 6)
Both of these games could be pivotal in the outcome of the Pac-12 North. With the California Golden Bears being a sleeper pick in the conference, should Cal surprise the Huskies in week two and hold steady at Ole Miss, their visit in Week 6 to Eugene could be a big matchup in the Pac-12 and in the College Football Playoff Picture.
Conversely, if the Huskies play to expectations and Stanford survives its brutal start to the season, their matchup in Palo Alto could see the Pac-12 on College Gameday. While The Farm isn’t the most raucous atmosphere for the show, the matchup between these two Pac-12 heavyweights does more than makeup for the fans (or lack thereof).
Biggest Competition: Iowa vs. Michigan OR Auburn vs. Florida OR Georgia vs. Tennessee OR Purdue vs. Penn State
USC vs. Notre Dame (Week 7)
One of the classic matchups in all of college football, USC vs. Notre Dame is an attractive week 7 matchup the producers of ESPN College GameDay will hope happens. With USC’s roster filled with talent that just needs to see its potential realized, this could be a statement game for USC, especially if they manage tough games against Stanford (Week 2), Utah (Week 4) and Washington (Week 5).
Biggest Competition: Alabama vs. Texas A&M OR Florida vs. LSU
Oregon vs. Washington OR Arizona State vs. Utah (Week 8)
Don’t sleep on Herm Edward’s Arizona State Sun Devils in the Pac-12 South. They’re a talented squad and freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels is ready to turn some heads. A week 8 matchup with Utah is another opportunity for the Utes to be on college football’s national stage, but they’ll face stiff competition from Oregon vs. Washington in the Pac-12 North.
Likely the game of the year in the Pac-12 North, Oregon vs. Washington is the conference’s fiercest rivalry and the unique atmosphere of Husky Stadium is going to be an attractive option for College GameDay.
Biggest Competition: Michigan vs. Penn State
Oregon vs. USC OR Utah vs. Washington (Week 10)
For a few years, a game featuring Oregon vs. USC was an easy feature for the national stage. With both their 2009 and 2010 matchups on College GameDay, when Oregon and USC clash in week 10 of this year, the teams could once again see Los Angeles serve as the backdrop for College GameDay. Known to Oregon fans as the ‘Storm LA’ game, this could be an opportunity for each program to reclaim college football glory and capture national attention in a big way.
Utah vs. Washington is another outstanding option, with Husky Stadium once again proving an attractive option to see the Pac-12 on College GameDay. Both these games could easily be previews of the Pac-12 Conference Championship.
Biggest Competition: Georgia vs. Florida
Week 11 – UCLA vs. Utah
UCLA is another one of the Pac-12 South teams a little under-the-radar this year. With Utah not having any defined competition in the division, this week 11 matchup between UCLA and Utah could be a game that determines the Pac-12 South crown.
Biggest Competition: Georgia vs. Auburn, Michigan State vs. Michigan
Week 12 – Oregon vs. Arizona State
Another potential preview of the Pac-12 Conference Championship, Oregon vs. Arizona State in Tempe could provide an outstanding stage for the Pac-12 on College Gameday. By this time in the year, we’ll know where each team stands and freshman QB Jayden Daniels will have had plenty of time to establish himself. Oregon, meanwhile, will be hoping senior quarterback Justin Herbert is forwarding a Heisman Campaign by leading the Ducks through a difficult road schedule. Their final road test? This big matchup against the Sun Devils.
Biggest Competition: Penn State vs. Ohio State, TCU vs. Oklahoma, Texas A&M vs. Georgia