by Matt Kupec
November 12, 2018
This past weekend ESPN’s College Football “Game Day” had a feature celebrating the 25th year of hosting the very popular pre-game college football show. Originating from the site of one of the day’s best matchups, with a sea of fans cheering wildly in the background a host of announcers talk college football for three hours, reporting on the top teams, games, players and storylines. The show finishes with the panel selecting their picks in a number of key games.
Watching that segment was entertaining and brought back so many memories of some of college football’s great games and stories over the last 25 years.
For me, it brought the memory of when ESPN’s “Game Day” traveled to Chapel Hill, NC on November 8, 1997 for the #2 Florida State vs. #5 UNC match-up of two unbeaten teams. This would be UNC’s only time hosting “Game Day” on the UNC campus. Unfortunately Florida State won 20-3 in a game that the Tar Heels really didn’t make much of a contest. But in my 40 years of being associated with UNC football it was by far the greatest environment for a college football game in Chapel Hill. Nothing has come close since then!
But what is it about “Game Day” that makes it so incredibly popular? Why is it must see television for college football fans? And what honor does it bring a program when “Game Day” announces it will be traveling to that campus to host its show?
For one, it is a huge honor to host “Game Day” on your campus. When “Game Day” announces they are traveling to your campus to host its show you know you have one most important game of the weekend. “Game Day” brings great energy and excitement that ignites an entire community. It validates your program and it becomes a bragging right and the talk of the town. Just think about how good UCF feels today knowing that ESPN’s “Game Day” will be in Orlando next week to host its show on the UCF campus. “Game Day’s” visit shows the importance of the University of Cincinnati vs. University of Central Florida football game. UCF will feel like they have been crowned king of college football for a week!
What colleges have hosted the ESPN “Game Day” over the past twenty-five years? I think we could all venture a pretty good guess about which programs have hosted the most shows but let’s take a deep dive and I’ll provide an in-depth analysis about the locations of ESPN’s “Game Day”:
GAME DAY HOSTS
- “Game Day” Hosts by Conference School – this chart shows the # of games hosted by Power 5 Conference members. Here we look at the number of times ESPN’s Game Day has traveled to the various college campuses to host its show. We look at the Power 5 Conferences only. For games at neutral sites, the home team is credited with hosting Game Day. Notre Dame has hosted Game Day nine times but is not included in the chart because they remain an independent in football:
|SEC||ACC||Big Ten||Pac 12||Big 12|
|Alabama||13||Florida St.||11||Ohio St.||17||Oregon||10||Oklahoma||7|
|LSU||12||Virginia Tech||6||Wisconsin||8||Utah||4||Okla. St.||6|
|Auburn||9||Boston College||3||Mich. St.||6||Washington||2||Kansas St.||2|
|South Carolina||7||Georgia Tech||2||Nebraska||6||Arizona||2||W. Virginia||2|
|Texas A&M||6||Louisville||2||Iowa||2||Arizona St.||1||Baylor||2|
|Georgia||3||Pittsburgh||2||Northwestern||2||Oregon St.||1||Texas Tech||1|
|Ole Miss||1||NC State||1||Indiana||1||UCLA||1||Kansas||0|
- Most “Game Days” Hosted by School. This chart looks at the colleges who lead in the number of games hosted on their campuses.
|Hosted Most Game Days|
|1||Ohio State||17||Big Ten|
|T15||Michigan St.||6||Big Ten|
|T15||Oklahoma St.||6||Big 12|
|T15||Penn State||6||Big Ten|
- GAME DAYS PLAYED IN
- ” Game Day” Games Played In. This chart looks at the total number of times colleges have played in the game where Game Day is announcing from. They may not be the host but they may have been the opponent. Georgia is a great example. Georgia, surprisingly, has only hosted 3 Game Day visits to Athens but Georgia has played in a total of 20 games where Game Day was hosting, meaning that 17 times Georgia was the road team.
|SEC||ACC||Big Ten||Pac 12||Big 12|
|Alabama||43||Florida St.||34||Ohio St.||42||Oregon||24||Oklahoma||35|
|LSU||28||Clemson||19||Penn St.||19||Stanford||11||Okla. St.||8|
|Georgia||20||Georgia Tech||4||Nebraska||16||Washington||6||Kansas St.||6|
|Auburn||18||Louisville||4||Michigan St.||14||Colorado||6||W. Virginia||4|
|South Carolina||8||Boston College||3||Iowa||7||Utah||5||Texas Tech||4|
|Texas A&M||8||Pittsburgh||2||Northwestern||3||Oregon St.||3||Baylor||3|
|Ole Miss||3||Syracuse||2||Illinois||2||Arizona St||3||Iowa St.||0|
|Arkansas||2||NC State||1||Indiana||1||Wash. St.||3|
- Most “Game Days” Played in By Schoo This chart looks at the schools with the highest number of games played on “Game Day” visits. Alabama has participated in the most with 43 games.
|Hosted Most Game Days|
|2||Ohio St.||42||Big Ten|
|T13||Penn State||19||Big Ten|
|T19||Michigan St.||14||Big Ten|
- Best and Worst “Game Day” Records (played in at least 5 games). This chart looks at the best and lowest percentages of those who have played in at least 5 Game Day games.
|Highest Winning Percentage in “Game Day” Games||Lowest Winning Percentage in “Game Day” Games|
|School||# Games||Record||%||Rank||School||# Games||Record||%|
Most Covered “Game Day” Games
|Match-Up||# Times Hosted|
|Alabama vs. LSU||9|
|Ohio St. vs. Penn St.||8|
|Michigan vs. Notre Dame||7|
|Florida St. vs. Miami||7|
|Texas vs. Oklahoma||6|
|Alabama vs. Auburn||6|
|Florida St. vs. Florida||6|
|Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma St.||6|
|Florida vs. Tennessee||6|
|Michigan vs. Ohio St.||5|
- Final ESPN “Game Day Facts
- The first “Game Day” broadcast was on November 13, 1993 with #1 Florida State vs. #2 Notre Dame from South Bend, IN. Notre Dame wins the game 31-24.
- Notre Dame has participated in the following:
- # Games – 29
- # Hosted Games – 9
- Overall Record – 13 wins, 16 losses, .448 winning percentage.
- September 15, 2001 broadcast was cancelled due to September 11, 2001 attacks.
- Philadelphia, PA will be the site of the Army vs. Navy game which represents the 5th time “Game Day” has been hosted for the classic Army vs. Navy match-up.
- Army hosted “Game Day” in West Point in 2003 for a game vs. South Florida.
- Navy has never hosted a “Game Day” in Annapolis, MD.
- Navy’s gave vs. Troy was hosted by “Game Day” from the deck of the USS San Diego on November 10, 2012.
- Air Force has hosted “Game Day” twice in Colorado Springs, CO in games against Army.