When announcing ESPN “College GameDay” would head to South Dakota State for the first time this Saturday to feature the FCS heavyweight fight with North Dakota State, host Rece Davis said something that should pique the interest of Gophers fans.
“There’s so many different places where the sport runs deep, where it’s important. ‘College Gameday’ gets to capture those each and every week,” Davis said in his Twitter video. “And while we love going to places that we return to again and again, I don’t know if anything quite gives me the same type of adrenaline rush like going to a new place.”
Well, the Gophers could give Davis and the rest of his panel a thrill. The Gophers are one of just 10 remaining Power Five teams to have never hosted the popular Saturday morning show. The others are Cal, Duke, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Rutgers, Syracuse, Virginia and Wake Forest.
With the Gophers potentially at 8-0 and playing top-10-ranked Penn State on Nov. 9, maybe “GameDay” would want to check Minnesota off that list.
Or maybe not.
While “GameDay” this weekend chose to spotlight a lower-division rivalry instead of a big-game matchup, the second Saturday in November pretty much demands the opposite. It has the potential to boast a No. 1 vs. No. 2 knockout between Alabama and LSU.
“Rarely is there ever a singular factor that decides the site of ‘College GameDay,’ ” Derek Volner, ESPN communications manager for college sports, said in a statement. “The entire week’s game slate, teams, rankings and potential site location all play a factor, along with the season’s story lines. We always say that we go to the ‘best story line of the week.’ ”
Volner did add the Gophers “have certainly caught the attention of ‘College GameDay,’ ” so there might still be hope this season. The Gophers’ regular-season finale against Wisconsin, for example, could end up being a can’t-miss game — a rivalry on a campus “GameDay” has never been to with the Big Ten West title possibly on the line between two highly ranked teams.
Imagine the “GameDay” stage setting up on the Northrop Mall, perhaps. Celebrity guest picker Lizzo (one can dream) picks the Gophers to win. Lee Corso dons a Bucky the Badger head while a sea of fans waving meme-tastic signs boo. Maybe a gentle snow falls on that late November day.
It could happen. Or the Gophers may have to wait another year or more. But one moment from the past might predict a “Gameday” future.
P.J. Fleck’s Western Michigan hosted “GameDay” for the first time in 2016. At the time, the Broncos were 10-0 — joining Alabama as the only undefeated FBS teams — and beat Buffalo 38-0. They later lost to Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl.
“We’re up to 49 nevers now. It had never happened, and we’re up to 49 things that have never happened,” Fleck told the Detroit Free Press before that game. “… It’s wonderful for the brand. People across the country can experience Row The Boat. … If they don’t know much about us, they’re going to know more about us now. It helps people across the nation find out about who we are.”