College GameDay – ESPN’s signature pregame show on Saturdays in the fall – has visited a whole bunch of campuses since 1993. It’s been to big games, like LSU verus Alabama, awesome campuses in the Group of Five like Appalachian State, iconic HBCU venues like Jackson State, and historic rivalries like Army-Navy.
This weekend, GameDay went to Duke for the first time. While the basketball version of GameDay has been to Cameron Indoor Stadium dozens of times, the football show had never broadcast from campus ahead of a football game at Wallace Wade Stadium. That changed Saturday, with a ranked Duke team led by Mike Elko hosting Notre Dame.
But there are still six Power Five – or autonomy five (read: ACC, SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12) – schools that have never hosted GameDay.
With Duke checked off the list, Who’s Next?
— bill hofheimer (@bhofheimer_espn) September 30, 2023
Here’s a closer look at each one.
Like Duke, Maryland’s absence from GameDay could end this year. Following an 8-5 campaign last year, the Terps are 4-0 entering a matchup with Indiana this weekend. Maryland then faces a tough Ohio State team on the road, then Illinois, then Northwestern, and then Penn State.
It’s entirely possible that the Terps are 7-1 entering that home game on Nov. 4 against a Nittany Lions squad that will likely still be ranked in the top 10. It could be a good time for GameDay to visit College Park.
It’s kind of hard to believe that GameDay didn’t visit Rutgers during its impressive 11-2 campaign in 2006. The Scarlet Knights were ranked for the majority of the year and even hosted a ranked-versus-ranked matchup on Nov. 9 against then-No. 3 Louisville. The problem was, that game was scheduled for a Thursday night.
Rutgers hasn’t had a winning season since 2014. It could be a while before ESPN deems them relevant enough for a visit.
The time GameDay should’ve visited Charlottesville was in 2004, when the Cavaliers went 8-4 under Al Groh and were ranked all season – as high as No. 6. Virginia even hosted a ranked Miami team that season, a 10-versus-18 matchup. Alas, GameDay hasn’t been to UVA.
And probably won’t anytime soon, considering Virginia is off to an 0-4 start this season.
Since GameDay started traveling to campuses in 1993, Syracuse has never been a national championship contender, but they haven’t been consistently dreadful either. The Orange are usually right in the middle of the pack. They’ve had two 10-win seasons since 2000 and have gone bowling five times since 2010.
And considering Syracuse plays in a truly unique college football venue – the Carrier Dome – it’s a bit surprising GameDay hasn’t highlighted it.
The facts are tough: Illinois just hasn’t been all that relevant in college football since GameDay launched. Since 1993, Illinois has just four seasons since it finished with eight or more wins, and three seasons that it finished the year ranked in the AP Poll. Illinois also hasn’t won a bowl game since 2011.
This is another program that feels like it missed its best window to land GameDay. Between 2004 and 2006, Cal went 28-9 over three seasons, finished each of those years ranked and appeared as high as No. 4 in the AP Poll. For those that might not remember, this was an era of Cal football that featured the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Marshawn Lynch, JJ Arrington, Desean Jackson, Desmond Bishop and Justin Forsett. During that three season stretch, the Golden Bears hosted fellow ranked teams four times. And still, GameDay never appeared.
Cal has since finished nine of its last 14 seasons with losing records.