Before ESPN schedulers dismiss the University of Minnesota again from getting an invite to “College GameDay,” they may want to glance at this past weekend’s numbers.

ABC’s broadcast of the Penn State-Gophers football game drew the network’s highest noontime audience in nearly three seasons with an average of more than 6.7 million people tuning in. The last time ABC attracted that many eyeballs during that time slot was the 2016 showdown between Michigan and Ohio State. Viewership peaked Saturday at 8.7 million, deep in the fourth quarter.

The game was also a smash here at home. The Twin Cities market drew a 19.5 rating, a local high for college football games on ESPN-connected networks since records began in 2000. In comparison, the Pittsburgh market had a 12.8 rating and the Philadelphia market had a 8.7 rating.

ABC saw a 75 percent increase in viewership from last year thanks to a triple-header that also included the USC-Arizona State and Clemson-NC State games.

The numbers can only bolster the chances that the Gophers will make their debut on “College GameDay” when the Wisconsin Badgers visits Minneapolis on Nov. 30. ESPN has not yet made its selection for that week.

 

@nealjustin