ESPN Announces College Football Week 14 Broadcast Schedule

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The ESPN networks’ coverage of college football’s regular season wraps up this weekend with a group of championship matchups on its schedule.

The weekend’s coverage begins live from Detroit Friday when No. 21 Western Michigan takes on Ohio for the MAC Championship.  Broadcast begins at 9 p.m. EST on ESPN2.  Adam Amin will have the call for the game.  He will be joined by analyst Mack Brown for additional commentary.  Reporter Molly McGrath will be on the sidelines for all of the latest in-game news and interviews.

The action continues at 9 p.m. EST live from Santa Clara, CA where No. 9 Colorado will take on No. 5 Washington for the 2016 Pac-12 Conference Championship.  The game will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio.  Bill Rosinski will have the call for the game.  He will be joined by David Norrie for additional commentary.  Ian Fitzsimmons will have all of the latest in-game news and interviews.

No. 4 Clemson rounds out the weekend’s coverage as it takes on Virginia Tech for the ACC Championship Saturday night at 8 p.m. EST on ABC and ESPN Radio.  Clemson is in the College Football Playoff Top 4 right now.  Chris Fowler will have the call for the game on ABC.  He will be joined by Kirk Herbstreit for additional commentary.  Reporter Samantha Ponder will have all of the latest in-game news and interviews.  Bill Rosinski, David Norrie and Ian Fitzsimmons will have the call on ESPN Radio live.

In all, seven championships will be decided this weekend on the ESPN networks.  The season’s final rankings will be revealed Friday at noon.  One more ranking will be announced tonight at 7 p.m. EST on ESPN.  The full schedule for the ESPN networks’ weekend conference championship matchup coverage is noted below.

 

ESPN Network’s Week 14 Slate of Games

Date Time (ET) Game Network
Fri, Dec. 2 7 p.m. 2016 Marathon MAC Football Championship from Detroit: No. 21 Western Michigan vs. Ohio
Adam Amin, Mack Brown, Molly McGrath
ESPN2
9 p.m. 2016 Pac-12 Championship from Santa Clara: No. 9 Colorado vs. No. 5 Washington
Bill Rosinski, David Norrie, Ian Fitzsimmons
ESPN Radio
Sat, Dec. 3 Noon 2016 American Athletic Conference Football Championship Game: Temple vs. No. 25 Navy
Joe Tessitore, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe
ABC
2016 Dynacraft Conference USA Championship Game: Louisiana Tech at Western Kentucky
Dave Pasch, Tom Luginbill, Quint Kessenich
ESPN
Troy at Georgia Southern
Jason Benetti, Kelly Stouffer, Paul Carcaterra
ESPN2
1 p.m. New Mexico State at South Alabama ESPN3
3 p.m. Louisiana-Lafayette at Louisiana-Monroe ESPN3
4 p.m. 2016 SWAC Football Championship Presented by McDonald’s from Houston, Tex.:Grambling vs. Alcorn State
Eric Clemons, Jay Walker, Sherree Burruss
ESPNU
5 p.m. Georgia State at Idaho ESPN3
7:30 p.m. Arkansas State at Texas State
Allen Bestwick, Ahmad Brooks, Kris Budden
ESPN2
7:45 p.m. 2016 Mountain West Football Championship Game
San Diego State at Wyoming
Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Todd McShay
ESPN
8 p.m. 2016 Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game from Orlando, Fla.
No. 4 Clemson vs. Virginia Tech
TV: Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Samantha PonderRadio: Bill Rosinski, David Norrie, Ian Fitzsimmons
ABC and ESPN Radio

Please note: Schedule does not include the second round of the NCAA Division I Football Championship which is carried exclusively by ESPN

 

More information on this weekend’s college football coverage on the ESPN networks is available online now along with all of the latest college football headlines at:

 

 

Website: http://espn.go.com/college-football

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CFBonESPN

Twitter: http://twitter.com/espncfb

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN’s ‘CGD’ To Air Live On Saturday From Tuscaloosa

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN’s College GameDay Built by The Home Depot returns to the campus of Alabama for its broadcast this weekend.

Rece Davis and company will be live on the campus of The University of Alabama on Saturday for ESPN’s weekly broadcast of College GameDay Built by The Home Depot.  The broadcast, live from Tuscaloosa, Ala., will be ahead of the No. 1 Crimson Tide’s matchup against No. 6 Texas.

Broadcast begins at 9 a.m. ET.  This week’s show marks the 13th time overall that College GameDay Built by The Home Depot has aired live from the university’s campus.  It will be live on site at the Walk of Champions outside of Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Rece Davis will anchor the broadcast.  He will be joined at the desk by analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, and David Pollack as well as Chris Fallica, Jen Lada, Samantha Ponder, Tom Rinaldi, George Whitfield, and Gene Wojciechowski for additional commentary.

More information on this week’s edition of College GameDay Built by The Home Depot is available online now along with all of the latest college football headlines at:

 

 

 

Website: http://espn.go.com/college-football

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/collegegameday

Twitter: http://twitter.com/CollegeGameDay

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN’s ‘CGD’ To Broadcast Live From University of Tennesse Campus This Weekend

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN’s College GameDay Built by The Home Depot will be live in Tennessee this weekend.

The worldwide leader in sports’ flagship college football show will be live in Knoxville, TN for this weekend’s matchup between the Volunteers and Gators.  Broadcast begins at 9am ET.

Rece Davis will host the broadcast.  He will be joined at the desk by the team of analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and David Pollack, and contributors Chris Fallica, Jen Lada, Samantha Ponder, Tom Rinaldi, George Whitfield and Gene Wojciechowski.

College GameDay Live will air live from the College GameDay set beginning at 1:30pm ET.  Samantha Ponder, Desmond Howard and David Pollack will be on hand for the broadcast.

More information on ESPN’s College GameDay built by The Home Depot is available online now along with all of the latest college football headlines at:

 

 

 

 

Website: http://www.espn.com/college-football

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/collegegameday

Twitter: http://twitter.com/CollegeGameDay

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Tessitore, Blackledge Talk 2016 College Football Season In Media Conference Call

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN Sunday College Football Broadcast Team: L – R: Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe, Joe Tessitore. Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN’s Joe Tessitore and analyst Todd Blackledge sat down with members of the media this week to talk about the 2016 college football season and all things college football.  The pair talked with the media about their thoughts on the season’s major Heisman candidates, coaches’ QB choices, and what they think are some of the season’s most anticipated matchups.  The in-depth conversation is noted in full below.  Tessitore and Blackledge will join fellow reporter Holly Rowe this  Sunday, September 4th as Texas and Notre Dame face off live on ABC.  Coverage of the game is expected to begin at 7:30pm ET.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, everyone, for joining today’s call, and welcome to the start of the college football season. As mentioned, today we have Joe Tessitore and Todd Blackledge and John Moline, who will be working together this season. Holly Rowe will join them throughout the season as their reporter. Joe and Todd will be in Austin on Sunday night for Notre Dame and Texas on ABC. As a heads up, we will have a transcript of today’s call so we will be sending that out this afternoon. We’ll get things started by tossing it over to Todd who will give some opening thoughts on the season. Joe will do the same and then we’ll get right into questions. Todd, why don’t you take it away.

TODD BLACKLEDGE: All right, well, it’s good to be with everybody here this morning, and obviously looking forward to the start of another great college football season. I think the thing that I’m most excited about, and I think everybody at ESPN is, just the magnitude of the opening weekend, the games that are making up the opening weekend spanning over a couple days is it pretty impressive and worth getting excited about, and I just can’t think of any better way to kick off college football than to have this type of a presentation right out of the gate.

I think the College Football Playoffs and the excitement around that and the importance of strength of schedule has had an impact, and certainly this first weekend of games, we’re going to find out a lot about teams.

I think it’s great as a team to play a high-caliber opponent early. I think it motivates you and it adds energy and juice to your preseason practice and your training camp, and a loss in a game this early against a high-quality opponent does not remove you from the championship picture. So I think it’s a win-win for everybody, particularly the fans, and for Joe and Holly and I, we’re thrilled to be in Austin on Sunday to call the Notre Dame-Texas game. A lot of intrigue around that game and probably as much as any one particular spot at the quarterback position on both sides of the field.

You know, we’re probably going to see four guys in the game. I don’t know how much we’ll see of each guy or what the rotations are going to be, but I think both head coaches have talked about playing two guys, and in the case of Texas, I wouldn’t be shocked if we don’t see a third guy in there in a wildcat type situation in special situations.

First games there’s a lot of intrigue, a lot of mystery, a lot of wondering how guys are going to respond on a big stage, and we’re excited and thrilled to be there to cover it.

THE MODERATOR: Joe, why don’t you give your thoughts on the opening of the season.

JOE TESSITORE: Good morning, everybody. This is Joe Tessitore. Thanks for your time. I think Todd brings up a great point in talking about the opening weekend and the influence of the College Football Playoff now that we’re a couple years in and realizing what it’s done scheduling-wise. I think everybody realizes it’s the best opening weekend the sport’s ever had. But when I look through, and Derek, you asked for season overall thoughts here, I look at the schedule even beyond opening weekend, and I feel like everywhere you turn, you see these potential College Football Playoff eliminators or games that will help us decide some things. I think the season is filled with them, it’s just that we have this overflow in week one that makes it so exciting, but whether it’s Bama-LSU, Clemson-Florida State, Michigan-Ohio State, I feel like we have that everywhere you turn.

I also think the sport is really blessed and it continues to be this way, and we know some of the ways college basketball is panned, but the returning established stars, when you have Fournette, McCaffrey and Deshaun Watson and Baker Mayfield and Dalvin Cook, I was just doing a Heisman special the other day, and I started putting this list together and everywhere you look, you have these established stars and these known qualities, and I think that’s good for the sport and really good for the fans.

I can’t get away from what Nick Saban and Jim Harbaugh have been up to this off-season, and the fact that we have these two huge names in coaching with all the other big names, but with Saban, does the legacy and the dynasty grow even bigger would be one of the big headlines I’m looking forward to this season, does Harbaugh deliver on the hype.

As for the hype for our game, on a personal note, I’m absolutely honored and thrilled to work with Todd and Holly, and I think I speak for Todd in saying that with what Holly has been through this year and this off-season and the fight and the courage and what she’s shown, and I know her battle has been a little public, to see Holly on Sunday night in primetime on ABC, a game like this, Todd, I know we’re all going to be just so thrilled to have that group together, and she’s the absolute best in the business, as is Todd, at what he does. I’m thrilled to be a part of this team now.

I think the Notre Dame-Texas game personally, more could be revealed in this game than perhaps any other opening weekend game out there because I think Notre Dame, of course, top-10 team but very much perceived as a team with enough new talent to reload in spots where they need it and a team capable of putting it all together for a run to the playoff, but yet there’s still a lot that has to be decided.

Todd talked about the quarterback battle. I want to see who emerges at wide receiver and fills some of that void at tight end, who steps up on the defensive line where they do have some players that are back again and others need to step up.

And for Texas, you feel this buzz this off-season as this is the point of the breakthrough and the true freshman quarterback, but yet Swoopes is still there and the big dominating tandem in the backfield. But there are still the issues from last year that you want to see resolved, the run defense. Yeah, they’re a year older. Yeah, there’s a new offense, an exciting young new offensive coordinator, but is it too big of a leap to go from where they were to now what’s expected, and I think very early on on Sunday, we may start to get some of those answers, and if we do in a positive direction, this is going to be a thriller on Sunday night.

I’m very excited, and with that, Derek, I guess we can open it up for some questions.

Q. Question for Todd: Coach Strong is still not really releasing who he’s going to start as a quarterback in the game on Sunday, and Coach Kelly said he’s going to play both guys. What’s kind of the strategy behind do you think coaches trying to keep some of that stuff mum until the last possible second?

TODD BLACKLEDGE: Well, you know, I mean, I guess if you can do that, what you can do in college football a little differently than you can in the NFL, (inaudible) preparation. Now, the positives of Notre Dame is they’ve had all off-season. It’s not like it’s (inaudible) week where they’ve only had four or five days to do preparation work for two quarterbacks or two different styles of quarterbacks. So they’ve had extra time. I think just as (inaudible) quarterback is going to be is I would imagine Notre Dame’s defensive staff led by Brian VanGorder has probably spend as much time studying and dissecting film from a year ago to get familiar with the offensive plan and system that they might see from Sterlin Gilbert’s offense in the ballgame. More so than which guy is taking the snaps, I think they’ll spend more time being concerned about the style of offense and maybe the tempo of the offense that they’re going to face.

Q. Todd or Joe, when is the last time that you actually saw a two-quarterback system be effective and actually work, keeping both guys happy?

TODD BLACKLEDGE: Well, I mean, I think you have to look at what Ohio State was able to do. I mean, last year was not great (inaudible).

THE MODERATOR: Todd, your phone is breaking up a little bit here. Why don’t we go to Joe.

JOE TESSITORE: It’s funny, Todd and I got on a conference call last week, and one of the things we started discussing was Brian Kelly’s success at Cincinnati, and we really started focusing in on that, where Coach was very comfortable in having two talented guys and guys that in the circumstances created that, but still, they did have success at times when they were using a two-quarterback system. It can be done. The reason why it’s being done may not be the same, but obviously they’re blessed with the talent that’s there.

But I don’t know, I think one of the great curiosities of this game and opening weekend is to see how this will play out. But there have been spots of success, and Brian is a coach who has been one of those guys in recent years of college football who’s actually done it.

THE MODERATOR: Todd, let’s try to go back to you and see if we can hear you a little bit better.

TODD BLACKLEDGE: Yeah, I mean, I’m not — as a former quarterback, obviously I’m not a huge fan of playing two quarterbacks. But by the same token, I’m not necessarily all in with the idea that if you — the adage if you have two quarterbacks then you really have no quarterbacks, because again, in today’s world of college football, I think you have to have at least two guys ready to take first-team reps and ready to play at a high level because of the effectiveness of quarterback run game in offenses today.

You know, the offenses that are really prolific, you either have an NFL-type quarterback who can make every throw, or you have an element of quarterback run, and when you do that, you put the guy at risk. So again, I live in Ohio, and watching what Ohio State did on their way to a National Championship, you know, they ended up going through three quarterbacks because of injury, but the key was that each one of them was ready to step up and play at a high level when their number was called.

So early in the season you start out by saying, okay, look, we’re going to play two guys. But eventually I think they’ll work into one guy as a starter, but you want to make sure that other guy is not only happy but ready to play at a high level when his number is called, because you are one play away from being a starting quarterback if you’re a backup.

Q. I kind of want to go along those same lines but take it a step further with the SEC specifically. It seems like the conference kind of has a rep of we’ve got talent coming out of the ears at every position, developing players except for quarterback. Is that kind of a fair analogy, and if you think it’s true, why do you think it’s true?

TODD BLACKLEDGE: Well, I don’t know if it’s a fair analogy or not. Certainly maybe other positions have developed quicker or they’ve put more guys in the league that are playing at a high level, but I think quarterback play is kind of cyclical. I think there are times when it may be down in a league like the SEC, but there’s other times when it’s pretty good. I just think that that league, one of the things that’s different is the defenses are very good in that league, and the type of defensive talent that you face week in and week out is a little bit different for a quarterback than playing in some other leagues across the country.

I think that has something to do with it, but I just think overall it’s cyclical. I don’t think they do a bad job of developing quarterbacks. I just think it might be a little bit more difficult to play week in and week out at that position, as well.

JOE TESSITORE: I think Todd is right when he points to the defense as being part of the explanation. I also think that every conference takes on a certain offensive identity as to what’s the norm, and we know what that’s been in the Big 12 in recent years, and you’ve seen certain coaches who were holding out on that now give way and conform. Gary Patterson finding great success with what he did at changing offensive coordinators in recent years, Texas now going down that same road. Some of those same things aren’t asked of quarterbacks in the SEC. It’s not the same conforming culture of offenses in the SEC.

Yes, for some quarterbacks you’ll see those stats, be it with what you see out of Chad Kelly or perhaps even Trevor Knight at Texas A&M this year, knowing what they are going to ask of him in that offense, but with others managing the game, playing two back play action with the emphasis on power run, you’re not going to see some of the same stuff. But undoubtedly what Todd said with the level of defense and the front sevens that they’re facing every week, it’s a different beast.

Q. Todd, if you don’t mind momentarily skipping ahead to week two, Pitt-Penn State, first time in 16 years, renewal of a rivalry, two things: Number one, do you think this game should be played every year? Number two, can you share some of your memories from whether this likely or definitely may be the best Penn State (inaudible) in the history of the series in 1981?

TODD BLACKLEDGE: Yeah, in answering your first question, I wish they would play every year. I know logistically they may not be feasible, but to me one of the greatest things about college football and the thing that sets it apart from the NFL is rivalries. When I was at Penn State, the Pitt-Penn State game was as good a rivalry game as there was in college football, and it had its own niche, that Friday after Thanksgiving, the battle of route 322, a lot of the in-state competition, even though I was an Ohio guy, I found out pretty quickly how important that game was.

Also, when I was at Penn State at that time in the early ’80s, the talent on both of those teams, the NFL caliber talent was unbelievable. It was a great rivalry to be a part of. I wish that they played every year.

The memories I have of the ’81 game, and I’ve done a few interviews about it already this year, this summer, I have very distinct and fond memories of that game. It was a bizarre game. They were ranked No. 1. We came in with two losses, but we were a really, really good football team, and we were ranked No. 1 earlier in the year and got beat by Miami and then lost again to Alabama. But we knew we were capable of playing with Pitt even though they had a great team. And yet it didn’t look like that early on. We were down 14-0 at the end of the first quarter, and I think I’m correct in saying we had minus one yard of total offense in the first quarter and just showed no signs of being able to stay on the field.

And Pitt was driving again early in the second quarter, and we got an interception on a beautiful play by our safety Mark Robinson down by the goal line, and that just kind of stopped the avalanche for a minute, and we were able to tie it up before halftime 14-14 and then it was a completely different game in the second half.

Our defense forced turnovers and our offense came up with big plays in the passing game, and we ended up scoring 48 unanswered points to win 48-14.

It was a crazy game, a great game for Penn State. Yeah, I have great memories of that because we also — we didn’t have to go back to school right away because it was Thanksgiving break, and I remember going with my family and Kurt Warner and some other guys to Klein’s Restaurant downtown Pittsburgh, and just an incredible weekend capped off by that game.

Q. Rightfully Clemson and Florida State get most of the media attention that comes out of the ACC but I’d like to get North Carolina’s week one matchup with Georgia and the effect that that game will have on the Tar Heels’ season.

JOE TESSITORE: I broadcast last year’s opener for North Carolina, which I think we look back and shake our head at now, but this is actually a team that I like a lot, and I think obviously with what they’re facing week one, that would be a signature win non-conference-wise that could really propel them to something special. But I just look at their offense, and there is so much talent on that side of the ball, and I think Trubisky could be even better for them than what we’ve seen in recent years. I think Hood is one of the most underrated running backs in the country, and Hollins on the outside is a big-bodied receiver. Switzer is as dangerous in the slot in the return game as anybody is in the country. Any time he touches the ball, he could really go. They’ve got returning guys on the offensive line, so they’re going to be very consistent and dangerous offensively.

Defensively, need to step up. Need to keep developing. Didn’t see much defense last year, but you’ve got to hope that year two under Chizik, guys having more experience, they’re just better. But I think North Carolina is sneaky good and very capable week one against the Dawgs, especially if the Dawgs are finding their identity offensively a little bit, depending on what we see at quarterback.

I think nobody should be fooled thinking that Georgia is lacking talent. That roster and that recruiting has never turned itself off.

But I actually think, and we were talking about this, as good as this opening week is, if you were to tell me what games do you feel like are undoubtedly final-possession games, that’s very high on the list. I think that’s going to be a highly competitive game that is played to the wire on Saturday.

Todd and I having a Sunday game, God, I feel like this is a great luxury for us. On Saturday we get to watch football and enjoy this thing. That’s definitely the game I’m going to be locked in on Saturday afternoon. I’m looking forward to it.

TODD BLACKLEDGE: Yeah, I would just echo that I think that that’s a great opportunity game for North Carolina. They finished with a lot of confidence. They had a really solid season last year, and they’re going against a team that a lot of people are going to go in and well, think, Georgia is more talent, SEC, blah blah blah, but Georgia has a lot of answers — they have a lot of questions to figure out on both sides of the ball. If anybody has been around Alabama at Nick Saban’s defense and Kirby Smart’s defense, it’s not a simple system, and it doesn’t happen right away, and so it’s — I think it’s going to take them a little bit of time to get real comfortable in some of the things he wants done defensively. They’ve got questions an offense, and as Joe mentioned, a lot of talent, but I see North Carolina going into that game as a very confident football team and looking at that game as a chance to really kick this season off in a positive way.

Q. You guys were talking a little bit about big name quarterbacks. Obviously with the Auburn-Clemson matchup, Deshaun Watson is a player that everybody is going to be watching. What are you looking to see out of players whose names are already in the Heisman conversation?

TODD BLACKLEDGE: Well, my biggest thing, when I think of a guy coming off the kind of year that Watson had last year, and he was fun to watch. I had him in the semifinal game and he was spectacular, he was great in the final. You know, the biggest thing is, okay, how does he take the next step in his development, and really the thing that’s really impressive about him beyond his skill set is his poise. His poise for a young player was pretty impressive, very unshakeable. And so the biggest thing now is, okay, how does he progress, how does he take the next step in decision making, in how quickly he sees and recognizes things on the field, taking a little bit more command of things.

And the only thing I would worry about with a guy like that is that he doesn’t try to do too much, that he doesn’t try to get outside of himself and do too much and try to make every play, but that doesn’t really fit his personality. I wouldn’t expect that to be a problem for him. But can he get better? Yeah, he can get better, and that’s pretty scary for people that are going to play him.

I just like everything about him. I like his skill. I like his athleticism, and I really like his poise and his demeanor playing that position.

JOE TESSITORE: Was your question specifically Watson in terms of expectations with the Heisman hype, or did you want me to go beyond Watson?

Q. Watson, but also beyond Watson.

JOE TESSITORE: Todd is going to give you a far better breakdown on the field and he just did and what to look for from him personally, but just as somebody who tracks the Heisman voting through the years and Heisman campaigns through the years, the thing with Deshaun is he comes into the season in a very unique position because we always have the candidates who in advance of the season come in with a certain level of status, where if they do what’s expected of them, if their teams and the individual have similar seasons to what they just had, undoubtedly they’ll be in the front row in New York.

This year it’s Watson with two running backs. It’s Watson, Fournette and McCaffrey who carry that status going into the season. Deliver on what you’re supposed to do and what you’ve already done, and you’ll be in the front row in New York.

What we’ve been noticing when we track the Heisman in recent years is with the internet voting and everybody voting online after the championship games, he who moves last moves best. You don’t want to be out in front of the Heisman race early. You want to make your move in November and surge. His biggest Heisman defining moment will come on October 29th at Florida State against another Heisman candidate just a notch below him in terms of perception in tears, against Dalvin Cook. And then in the month of November, up until he plays in the ACC Championship game, Deshaun is going to have a lot of games where he’s expected to win easily, to put up stats, but nothing that’s going to grab everybody’s attention. It’s Syracuse and Pitt and Wake Forest and South Carolina. So come the week after that, it’s Leonard Fournette and the question of can he finally get over the Alabama mountaintop on November 5th in a game that’s very similar in my eyes to the Florida State-Clemson game in sort of a de facto in-conference playoff eliminator.

So I think Deshaun is going to be just fine, but October 29th will define whether he’s in that lead seat heading into November of the Heisman race, but then Leonard Fournette is going to have an opportunity, as he did a year ago but then was overtaken by Derrick Henry, to then take the next step back and surge ahead.

But he’s in phenomenal shape, and he’s a young man that I had the chance to broadcast last year, and I can remember broadcasting the Orange Bowl a few years ago with Clemson and Ohio State, and the coaching staff, because he was an early enrollee, being able to talk about him, and sitting there telling all of us, oh, no, the best guy is coming in in a week. Well, we get the best guy in about a week and a half, and boy, he’s delivered on every bit of that. I’m just excited to see him play.

It’s another game Saturday night we’ll be dialing up late when we’re down there prepping this Texas-Notre Dame game that comes out of the chute at Auburn. But I look through the person of how the Heisman can be won, and that’s the way I see it for Deshaun.

Q. I want to go back to the Notre Dame-Texas game. What stands out to you about both Kizer and Zaire, and secondly, we’ve talked a lot about the offensive side of the ball, but defensively, who are a couple guys on both teams that you’re looking at to kind of keep your eye on for the game?

TODD BLACKLEDGE: Well, I’ll talk about the quarterbacks a little bit. I went out and watched Notre Dame practice last week, and they’re both impressive guys. I think that — I don’t think Brian Kelly is trying to play any games by saying, you know, what he said about the quarterbacks and playing two guys. Both guys are competitors, and they want to be the guy, but they’re two of Brian’s best playmakers. And not only best playmakers but most experienced playmakers. He’s got a lot of youth at wide receiver, and so those two guys have proven that they can play winning football for Notre Dame.

The idea of playing one and keeping the other one on the bench for 60 minutes, that’s not the best thing for that team. They’re both talented. It’s unique to me that one is right-handed and one is left-handed. If I had to distinguish between the two, I think Zaire is going to impact a game and affect a game more with his feet, and Kizer is going to affect a game and impact a game maybe more with his recognition of what the defense is, staying in the pocket, seeing over the rush and making throws down the field. Not that he’s not a good runner or a capable runner because he proved that, but I think he’s more comfortable staying in there and seeing the field and beating you that way.

They’re both very talented. They’re both bright. They both have proven themselves, and the question is now how do they break up the playing time between them on Sunday night, and at what point in the game do they decide or will they decide, hey, one of them gives us the best chance of going ahead and winning this football game. That will be the real interesting thing to see how they manage.

JOE TESSITORE: Defensively, I’m looking forward to getting your thoughts on the guys I’m going to mention when we go to practice down in Austin later this week, but I know Jefferson is going to get a lot of attention for Texas, but just even this weekend in doing some of my prep, I look at the five defensive backs that can be on the field for Texas, and I see size and athleticism, and I think Devante Davis is a guy as a corner with his size and his range and his physicality who NFL scouts are going to be drooling over in the coming years, but I look at Hall and Haines and all that talent in the defensive backfield, but then I ask myself, is the front seven, and really the guys up front, are they going to be capable of stopping the run against Notre Dame and putting the defensive backfield in position to have a big impact on this game, or is Notre Dame going to have their way in running the ball against Texas.

If I’m a Texas fan, whether it’s Poona Ford or somebody, Nelson or Boyette, I need to hear one of their names a lot on Sunday night. I need somebody there to just be flat-out better than they were. I know what that defensive backfield is going to give me with Texas, but I’m not quite sure what the big guys up front are going to deliver.

And then for Notre Dame, obviously there’s talent to replace both with the situation off the field at safety but also at linebacker with the talent that departed. But I think having Jones 94 and Rochell 90 up front, those could be some special players for them this year.

But the question marks for me would be defensively, the defensive line for Texas, and are they capable and can they step up in a spot like this.

Q. On the candidates for Heisman, are there any dark horse candidates you guys would consider? I know Fournette, McCaffrey, Watson, a lot of those guys are getting a lot of the main attention. Are there any dark horse candidates for Heisman that you guys might suggest?


TODD BLACKLEDGE: I’m going to let Joe talk about this, because I’ve told Joe before and I tell people, I personally — I don’t like talking about the Heisman until we get to the month of November. Just like I don’t like talking about who’s the top five or two whatever until we get to the month of October. But obviously I know that’s part of it, and people want to hear about it, and Joe specializes in it, so I’m going to let him throw out some names for you.

JOE TESSITORE: To Todd’s point, Todd obviously has more college football in his pinky than all of us combined on this call and years and years of seeing it, and he knows very well that you don’t win the Heisman in September or October, you only win it in November, and all you can do in September is really get into the starting gate of the Heisman, to then have the race be won.

But if you’re looking for names out there of guys that could potentially at least get into the starting gate that aren’t the obvious choices, and I would consider the obvious choices in the guys who are going to have those post positions already set for them to be Watson, Fournette, McCaffrey, and then J.T. Barrett and Baker Mayfield and Chad Kelly and Dalvin Cook and potentially Josh Rosen and Nick Chubb, depending on what happens opening weekend with both playing two very difficult non-conference games, UCLA and Georgia.

The longshot guys I would throw in there are the fact that the Baylor quarterback is going to be the Baylor quarterback, and there’s a certain status that comes along with that. So Seth Russell is back healthy. Luke Falk at Washington State should put up ridiculous stats. Royce Freeman at Oregon is one of these guys that’s grossly underrated and outstanding and talented. Barkley at Penn State is going to put up great stats at running back and out of the backfield and potentially could get a good upset win. If Tennessee is an SEC Championship contender, Josh Dobbs is going to get consideration depending on what they look like offensively. The two intriguing ones, quarterbacks for me, would be Greg Ward at Houston and Lamar Jackson at Louisville, the reason being is they’re both dynamic dual-threat guys who have the opportunity in Houston to have signature non-conference wins right out of the gate against Oklahoma, and for Louisville, the chance to either upset Florida State or Clemson and have really gaudy stats.

There’s always going to be a Alabama playmaker. There’s been a recent voting trend in the Heisman of a default vote of best player on best team. Somebody from Alabama, whether it’s the quarterback, the featured running back, Calvin Ridley or even a defensive star will get consideration to at least get votes to get to New York.

And then real, real extreme longshots, I would tell you Trubisky at North Carolina; Brad Kaaya if Miami has a good year and makes it to the ACC title game. Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech may be the most purely talented stat gatherer in the country; JuJu Smith-Schuster at USC, but they would have to find team success; Mike Weber at Ohio State now getting the ball and taking the reins from Zeke Elliott if they have great team success. And the outlier candidate that could make it to New York would be a guy like Jabrill Peppers at Michigan if they are national title contenders and he’s the showcase of what they do defensively.

But that would be the list that I put together preseason for some of our ESPN work that we’ve already done for the Heisman.

Kirk Herbstreit Talks 2016 College Football Season, More In Media Conference Call

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit took part in a conference call Wednesday with members of the press in which he discussed the upcoming college football season.  During the call, Herbstreit talked about College GameDay’s season opening appearance at Lambeau Field, the major matchups for the 2016 season, and a number of other topics.  The transcript of that call is included in whole below.

I’m down here in South Carolina, Deshaun Watson at Clemson looks like he’s poised for a big year. What are the challenges when somebody who may have only tangential been part of it, steps into that glare and spotlight? We saw a few years ago Jadeveon Clowney was supposed to have a big final year, and things didn’t work out as well as he wanted. What are some of the things you have to embrace to excel in that kind of spotlight?

Kirk Herbstreit: I think that’s a great question for a lot of the players that are back this year. Anytime you have a big freshman or sophomore year and you come back for your third year, you hear a lot of people talking about, just don’t get hurt and just get ready for the NFL, your lifelong dream. And while that is a big goal, obviously, and it should be for all these players, to me when you start worrying about things like that, that’s really when you hurt your own cause. Whether it’s going on to the NFL or helping your team win, I think the best thing to do is not forget what got you to that point. It was an attitude and approach that was selfless. It was not worrying about getting hurt.

In fact, Deshaun last year was coming off of an ACL, and probably pushed his rehab just to be able to try to get ready for those first couple games and maybe was a little bit ahead of schedule.

I remember early calling a few of their games, they were kind of protecting him a little bit, but he wanted to be out there. So I would be shocked if he changed his attitude and his approach because I just think that’s his DNA. That’s how he’s wired. I don’t think any agents or anybody’s going to be able to get to him and tell him to take it easy.

But you do see that happen from time to time. I personally think, as long as he focuses on the team goals and what they can accomplish this year, and that’s an important thing, then I think everything else will fall right into place.

I’m focusing on LSU-Wisconsin. One, was part of you hoping you were going to be at that game? And two, where’s LSU right now as a program considering how close Les got to being fired at the end of last season.

Kirk Herbstreit: I’m sorry — on the first part?

Were you hoping you were going to maybe be assigned to that game because it’s probably going to be spectacular?


Kirk Herbstreit: Oh, yeah, Game Day will be there, and I’m looking forward to being there for a couple of days, looking forward to just seeing — I’ve never been to Lambeau, so really looking forward to taking in the atmosphere. I would have loved to be able to stick around for the game, but as you know I’m flying to Dallas for the USC-Alabama game.

I think LSU for many people is kind of a very trendy pick. There are a lot of people with 17 or 18 starters back that feel that LSU is destined to win the SEC and get into the playoff and maybe win the national title.

I think if you look at them on paper, despite all the criticism and despite whatever Les Miles maybe faced a year ago, this team was sitting in a pretty good spot as they got ready for the month of November on their trip down to Tuscaloosa. They were, I think, number four in the country at that time. That kind of tells you what the state of their program was.

They lost to Alabama and they seemed to lose control and they lost three in a row. They bring almost everybody back from a year ago. The one question about them is are they going to be willing to open up their offense and be more balanced and be more multiple? Against many of the teams they play, they run the football with Fournette and that’s good enough and sometimes it’s not, and they have to be willing to kind of get teams off guard a bit with Brandon Harris, a veteran quarterback now and a great group of receivers.

That’s the one question mark people have about them is what will their quarterback do and what will the offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron do with this experienced group? Is he willing to use more of an imagination or will he be fairly conservative? Then of course, Dave Aranda comes over from Wisconsin, which adds a twist, I think, to this game as well.

They’re coming off a really bad year defensively. They gave up 24 a game, which is the worst, I think, since going back to the late ’90s. So they need to improve on that side of the ball too.

I’m covering Kentucky here in Lexington for the AJC, but basically in Lexington. Before Mark Stoops was fired at Kentucky, you were one of the only people to toss around his name as a candidate, even before he was fired. What did you see in him then, and what are realistic expectations for the Kentucky program now heading into its fourth year?

Kirk Herbstreit: Well, going back to, I guess five years ago, I just saw a very talented, experienced coordinator. I think getting away from his brother, Mike, who is at Arizona and he was the defensive coordinator and kind of getting out on his own and he ended up at Florida State and having a great deal of success. I knew what kind of leader he was. I knew what kind of recruiter he could be. I just thought if he finally got an opportunity to be his own guy, he would have a chance to do pretty well.

As we know, trying to get Kentucky to compete and be a consistent winner in the SEC East is very challenging. They’ve made some strides. But I know that that fan base would love to get to a bowl game and love to be more competitive in the SEC.

If you look at the team, I think the change at quarterback with Drew Barker taking over I think will help them. I think they really turn the ball over too much and they just seem to be a little bit out of sorts offensively.

So you have a new scheme, a new quarterback with Barker. They’re loaded in the back field with Kemp and Williams. So there’s a lot, I think, to be excited about offensively with, as I said, the new attack.

Then, this is a young defense. They’re not quite there as far as where they need to be on the defensive line, and they’re going to have to be kind of creative and aggressive.

But I look at their schedule, and if there’s a game that’s going to decide if they go to a bowl game or not, I hate to say it’s the opener, but I think it is. I mean, if they beat Southern Miss, I think that schedule all of a sudden looks a lot more attainable and a bowl becomes more attainable than if they were to lose that game and go to the Swamp in week two.

So I think they need to get off to a good start and hope for the best. But I think you’ll see improvement this year for sure.

I wanted to get your impression of the Sooners and the very ambitious non-conference schedule with Houston and Ohio State in September?

Kirk Herbstreit: I love it. I appreciate Joe and Bob agreeing to play those games. It’s great for us as fans to be able to get excited to watch OU and in two big games before they even get to conference play. One big thing about scheduling that in September is the winter conditioning. The spring football and especially the two-a-days, you get the players attention because they know what’s coming up they know what’s going to be challenged. OU has been able to accomplish that this year with the schedule.

I think everybody knows about Baker Mayfield, Samaje Perine

Samaje Perine, the talented back field that they have. I think that’s the obvious thing. The questions are: Where would they be with the offensive line? Who is going to step up and take over for Sterling Shepard? They lost a lot of not just play makers, but leaders on defensive side with Dominique Alexander and Striker and Tapper and Zack Sanchez. They lost kind of the heart and soul of that side of the ball. So who is ready to take over would be big.

I think they’re going to be really good on the back end, but I’m anxious to see their front seven and how they develop. And the schedule of Houston and Ohio State, two of the first three weeks, they’re going to have to be ready to go on the defensive side of the ball, because they do not want to get into shootouts against teams like Houston and Ohio State.

Are you picking them to get to the playoffs?

Kirk Herbstreit: As you know, I did a year ago, and I am looking at the Big 12 at TCU, I think, to kind of surprise people. Now that they went through so many injuries a year ago, I think they’ll be a lot better on that side of the ball. I think Kenny Hill could make them pretty dynamic on offense. So I think TCU could be the team to beat in the Big 12.

Checking in to see why you decided to pick Minnesota to come out of the west? What do you like about them? How do you think Coach Tracy Claeys will do in his first season at Minnesota?

Kirk Herbstreit: I’m excited to see what they can do this year. I think first the Big Ten West is wide open. You can talk to any different analyst and maybe get a different answer on what they think might happen. I think conventional wisdom, I guess, would be the Iowa Hawkeyes because of the year that they had a year ago and having C.J. Beathard back and a lot of great players on the defensive side of the football.

There are some people that like Nebraska. There’s talk about Wisconsin, Northwestern, you name it. The reason I like Minnesota is I think that their front seven defensively is going to be very, very stout. I think they’re going to be physical up there. I know they’re inexperienced on the back end, but I think they have a history of playing outstanding pass defense, and I’m kind of counting on, even though they’re young, I’m counting on them to still be solid in the secondary. And I think a lot of people are really sleeping on their offensive play makers.

You’ve got a veteran in Mitch Leidner who has played a ton of football, and I think he could have a great year. They’ve got some great backs that not a lot of people know much about. They always seem to have a good nucleus on that side of the ball. There are some concerns like every team in that West has. But they don’t play Ohio State. They don’t play Michigan State. They don’t play Michigan. They get Iowa at home.

So if they can beat Oregon State to open the season on Thursday, I think there’s a real shot that they could be sitting there looking at maybe 8-1 when they get ready to go to Nebraska on November 12th. Maybe I’m crazy, but I have kind of a weird feeling about them having a great year.

I think you’re aware there’s been a lot of hype for Michigan this season and a lot of them haven’t been in the playoffs. Do you think that’s too early or do you think it’s a fair assessment going into Harbaugh’s second year?

Kirk Herbstreit: No, I think if you look at what he did in his first year and what they have coming back, there’s obvious reason to be optimistic about what they can accomplish this year. I still would make the argument that the roster that he inherited in these first couple years will be the least talented roster that he coaches while he’s in Ann Arbor because of the way they’re going to recruit, or they do satellite camps or sit in their backyard in Ann Arbor. He’s going to recruit his tail off and he’s going to get very, very high-caliber skill players at receiver, running back and quarterback. I think — I personally think they’re about a year away.

With that being said, it’s pretty obvious that they’re going to be 7-0 getting ready for the big arrival game against Michigan State in East Lansing. They’ve got to go to Iowa, and they’ve got to go to Ohio State. If those three games were in Ann Arbor, I might be saying something a little bit different. But I just have a hard time imagining them going on the road in those three games and being able to win all three of those. Even two of them, I think, would be tough to do.

I think they’re about a year away from being the team that everybody is kind of excited for them to be. But I still think they’re going to be one of the Top 10 best teams in the country.

I wanted to ask you about the games that you’re going to be at next week. First off, do you think it’s more important for Ole Miss to have Chad Kelly have a big season or do you think it’s more important for Chad Kelly to have a big season? And second of all, what do you think of the dynamic of Lane Kiffin facing his old team?

Kirk Herbstreit: As far as my job analyzing these teams and watching teams excel, if Chad Kelly has a big year individually and their team goes 7-5, nobody cares about Ole Miss or Chad Kelly. If Ole Miss knocks off Florida State, they find a way to beat Alabama, week three, all of a sudden, they’re 3-0, ranked in the top 5 in the country, now everybody cares about Ole Miss and Chad Kelly.

So I think it’s much more important for Ole Miss for Chad Kelly to go out and play well and not feel the pressure to live up to the standard that he set a year ago where he was such a great player in his first year of Hugh Freeze’s offense, running and throwing and avoiding the disastrous play for the most part. So as long as he doesn’t feel like he has to push it himself or force himself out there to make plays, then I think he can have another monster year.

As far as Lane Kiffin going against his former team, USC, I think he’ll downplay it to everybody in the media. I think he’ll try to kind of poo-poo it even. Like this is just another game. We’ve got to get ready. We’ve got to find a quarterback. We don’t know what we have. But I do think that deep down there is something a little bit special for him going up against USC. Just to remind the USC folks what they let go. He’s a human. He has a competitive spirit. If anybody ever left one job and got fired to go to and he got hired in another job and you’re going back to play that school that fired you, I think anybody would be crazy to say that it wasn’t a little bit special or there’s a little bit more incentive there.

So it will be there. How it will impact the game, I don’t think it will. But I think privately deep down, I think Lane Kiffin’s incredibly fired up to have an opportunity to coach Alabama offensively against USC.

Saw that you picked Auburn as your sleeper in the SEC. Just wanted to have you expound on that as to why you’re optimistic about Auburn when seemingly most of us in the media, certainly in the SEC media picked him to finish quite low in the SEC West. Why are you optimistic about the Auburn Tigers this year?

Kirk Herbstreit: I think that’s a big part of it. I think that this team just seems to be Jekyll and Hyde over the last four, five years. They’re either really, really good or really, really inconsistent. If you go back and think about where they were, I think it might have been 2013, we actually had a “College Gameday,” I think it was ’13, where they played Mississippi State in Starkville. There were a lot of people excited about that team and what they were going to do. Actually it was 2014. They were at No. 2 in the country and Mississippi State was at No. 3, and they lost that game. It seems like from that game on they have not been able to get back to being the kind of team that they can be.

I think, in fact, in the last two years in conference play, they’re 6-10. Just have struggled.

I think if you look at that and you look at their roster and you look who they have at quarterback, I can see why the media said that this team’s not going to compete, even in the back field with the tailback situation. For me, it’s more of I think the defense is going to be really, really good. I think they’re going to play with a chip on their shoulder. I think they’re going to be mad at the world when they play this year, and I think defensively they’re going to stay in almost every game that they play.

Then it’s just a matter of the head coach, Gus Malzahn and offense finding ways to put enough points on the board to win. But I would be careful just by looking at 8-5 two years ago, 7-6 last year, 6-10 in conference play over the last couple years. I think it’s easy to look at this and say that this thing’s heading into the wrong direction. I just think there’s a little bit more backbone to the program than maybe all of us realize on the outside. And I think it will be led this year by the defense. I think, as I said, I think the defense is going to be one of the best in the SEC.

Obviously, calling from Louisville, I was wanting your thoughts on Louisville and Lamar Jackson and the chances they may have to make some noise with Florida State and Clemson in that division?

Kirk Herbstreit: Well, they’re the sleeper this year in the ACC with all the talk about Florida State and Clemson. There are a lot of people talking about Florida State and Clemson both getting into the playoff. I think this year the ACC is deep as I can remember it. Because, while everybody wants to talk about Florida State and Clemson, there is Louisville who is obviously going to be competitive, Miami, North Carolina. I think Pitt could be better. Virginia Tech has a new coach and a new offense. It’s going to be an interesting run this year.

We know about Lamar Jackson. They’ve got all the skill coming back. I expect James quick to have a big year this year. I really think that they get Florida State at an interesting time. I was at the game two years ago when they played on a Thursday night and they had Florida State on the ropes and it looked like they might win that game. And Papa John Stadium, as you were probably there, it was live and it looked like this was going to be their moment and they just couldn’t hold on. I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be another game like that. We’ll see this time if Bobby Petrino’s team can find a way, and then a couple weeks later they’re on the road at Death Valley and Clemson.

So they’re going to know really where they stand within the first five weeks of the season, and whether or not they have what it takes to be competitive enough to be that surprise team and push Florida State or Clemson down. They get a chance to play them both.

So other than those two games, I know they have Houston late in the year. I mean, worst-case scenario, I can’t imagine this team not getting to ten wins this year. So I think they’re going to have a great year, and I think it’s going to come down to how they play against Florida State and how they do on the road against Clemson.

Is there anybody that Lamar Jackson brings to mind that you’ve seen like that?
Kirk Herbstreit: There have just been so many of them in the last few years, the guys that can run and throw. I feel like when I watch him, you better hold your breath when he takes off to run with the football. I think he averaged close to six yards a carry a year ago. What’s ironic is Bobby Petrino’s known over the years of having quarterbacks, whether they’re dual-threat guys or pocket guys, he’s trying to find ways to dissect a defensive secondary to throw the football.

To me, I think Lamar Jackson, if I were coaching him, and I’m sure this is what they’re focused on, it’s really more about consistency. I think at the latter part of the year, we start to see them really figure out his skillset. I think in the last five games they average like 35 points a game. In the first few games it was more like 28 points a game. So I think they have a handle on what he does well. But, no, the kid at Houston this year, Lamar Jackson and Greg Ward are similar in how they attack defenses. But I still want to watch Lamar play more this year to see more of him and to see how he develops as a passer before I really compare him to anybody.

I want to ask you about Saquon Barkley out of Penn State. What traits distinguish him from others in college football? And just in general, what do you consider the potential and pressure points for Penn State this season?

Kirk Herbstreit: He reminds me of some of the great Penn State backs back in the day. He has tremendous balance, kind of low center of gravity; players seem to bounce off of him because of his strength. He’s got great quickness and acceleration. He’s just a guy that’s been blessed with that rare combination of quickness and speed and power. So he’s a handful, and when he gets his momentum started, he’s tough to bring down.

That was in more of a pro-style offense. I’m really looking forward to, of all the players that I’ve talked about today, Saquon Barkley in this new offense where they’re going to be a lot more tempo, a lot more spread, more quarterback run threat, I think he may be the beneficiary of the new system and what Joe Moorhead’s bringing in there. I think he’s going to get the ball in space more, which could be really dangerous, and I expect him to have a really big year.

Not to mention, they’ve got great wide receiver play, so they should be able to have balance. And as teams load up on the running of the quarterback and Barkley, they should be able to make him pay for that with one-on-one opportunities on the outside.

I think if their pressure points to me, the obvious one is the defense save line, after what they lost a year ago, and just lose a group of guys like that and experience and the production, and then a year later just throw anybody out there, no matter what four-star, three-star, five-star, whatever it is, and expect him to live up to what they did a year ago. So that’s the biggest one for me.

I think the back end, the back seven at linebacker and secondary, I think they’re going to be outstanding with a new scheme, new defensive coordinator. And I also think the quarterback spot. It was almost these last couple years with Hackenberg, it just seemed to be — it just didn’t fit with what James Franklin was trying to do, after what Bill O’Brien had done. It just kind of seemed to be out of rhythm or out of sorts offensively. And there’s been a lot of talk about a more mobile quarterback and that’s what James Franklin wanted and he has it. So until we see it, I would say the quarterback spot in this new system, that’s the one question mark for me on offense and the on defensive line. We’ll know a lot September 10 when they go over to Pitt.

ESPN Networks Kick Off Coverage Of The 2016 College Foootball Season This Week

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The wait is nearly over.  The 2016 college football season kicks off this Friday, August 26. And ESPN will have full coverage of Week 0.

The 2016 college football season kicks off this Friday night on ESPN when California and Hawaii face off live from ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Australia. ESPN will carry full coverage of the game beginning at 10pm ET.  Allen Bestwick, Mike Bellotti and Warren Smith will have the call for the game.

Friday’s live international event will be followed up Saturday night by a matchup between defending Big South Champion and #6 ranked Charleston Southern on the road against five-time defending champion and #1 North Dakota State at 7:30pm ET.  Adam Amin, Mack Brown, and Molly McGrath will have the call for that game live from Fargo, North Dakota.  It will mark the first time that the trio will have worked together on an ESPN broadcast.
As an additional bonus for college football fans, ESPN will air a special one-hour edition of College GameDay Saturday morning at 11am.  Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, David Pollack and Lee Corso (via satellite) will look ahead at the season to come in this week’s special season preview edition of College GameDay.  The weekly college football broadcast will officially launch its 2016 season next Saturday, September 3rd from Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin ahead of the Badgers’ game against the LSU Tigers.

The full broadcast schedule for the ESPN networks’ college football preview shows is noted in whole below.

Date

Time (ET)

Show

Commentators 

Network

Mon, Aug. 22

7 p.m. – 8 p.m.

2016 SEC College Football Preview Show

Matt Schick, Tom Luginbill, Kevin Carter

ESPNU

 

8 p.m. – 9 p.m.

2016 ACC College Football Preview Show

Anish Shroff, Mike Bellotti, Charles Arbuckle

ESPNU

Tue, Aug. 23

7 p.m. – 8 p.m.

2016 Big Ten College Football Preview Show

Brendan Fitzgerald, Tom Luginbill, Jason Sehorn

ESPNU

 

8 p.m. – 9 p.m.

2016 Big 12 College Football Preview Show

Anish Shroff, Kevin Carter, Jason Sehorn

ESPNU

Wed, Aug. 24

7 p.m. – 8 p.m.

2016 Pac-12 College Football Preview Show

Brendan Fitzgerald, Mike Bellotti, Charles Arbuckle

ESPNU

 

8 p.m. – 9 p.m.

National College Football Preview

Matt Schick, Mike Bellotti, Tom Luginbill

ESPNU

 

8:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

The Herbies Preseason Special

Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit

ESPN2

Sat, Aug. 27

11 a.m. – noon

College GameDay Season Preview

Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, David Pollack, Lee Corso (via satellite)

ESPN

Sun, Aug. 28

1 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

The Heisman Trophy Preview Show

Joe Tessitore, Desmond Howard, Danny Kanell

ESPN

 

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Championship Drive: College Football Season Preview

Rece Davis

ESPN

More information on the ESPN networks’ coverage of the 2016 college football season is available online now along with all of the latest college football headlines at:

 

Website: http://espn.go.com/college-football

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CFBonESPN

Twitter: http://twitter.com/espncfb

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

New On-Air Teams Announced For ESPN’s Thursday, Friday Night College Football Coverage

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN has announced the on-air roster for this season’s coverage of college football on Thursday and Friday nights..

Thursday night broadcasts will be led by Dave Flemming and college football analyst Jesse Palmer.  Laura Rutledge will join the duo as a sideline reporter for the network’s Thursday night games.  This is in addition to her previously announced duties with The SEC Network’s SEC Nation broadcasts.  Friday night coverage will be led by Adam Amin.  He will be joined in the booth by analyst Mack Brown.  Molly McGrath will be on the sidelines for each game with all of the latest in-game news and interviews.

As an additional note, David Pollack has signed a new extension with ESPN that will see him appear on ESPN’s College GameDay each week for the foreseeable future.  The terms of his new deal also include a more prominent role on College Football Live and will also see him contributing more to the network’s studio shows this season.  Pollack originally joined ESPN in 2009 as a studio analyst before joining the College GameDay on-air crew in 2011.

Before moving to Thursday nights, Flemming handled play-by-play duties on ESPN’s Friday night college football games.  Amin previously worked the Saturday college football games for ESPN/ABC.  Rutledge most recently served as a sideline reporter for the SEC Network’s college football broadcasts.  Pollack most recently served as a game analyst on ESPN’s Thursday night college football broadcasts last season alongside play-by-play man Joe Tessitore and analyst Jesse Palmer.

Lee Fitting, Senior Coordinating Producer, was entirely supportive of the new appointments in discussing them and the related importance of ESPN’s college football coverage.  “The new opportunities for Dave, Adam and Laura prove, once again, the quality of our on-air lineup and the growth opportunities that exist at ESPN, while Molly’s addition adds another high-caliber reporter and host to our roster as we enter a new season,” Fitting said.  “Thursday and Friday night telecasts are an integral part of our college football coverage and we look forward to these two new commentating teams working these primetime games each week.”  Fitting also shared his thoughts on Pollack’s experience in relation to his new deal noting, “David’s analysis, insights and, most importantly, his opinions have elevated him to a top college football analyst.  Having him on our studio programming, nearly on a daily basis throughout the season, maximizes his strengths and makes ESPN’s college football coverage better.”

This week’s new appointments are just the latest on-air moves made by ESPN for its upcoming college football broadcasts.  The network also recently announced moves involving Brian Griese, Steve Levy, Greg McElroy, Samantha Ponder, and Allison Williams for its college football broadcasts.  New contracts were also announced for Dave Pasch and Bob Wischusen.

More information on ESPN’s new college football broadcast teams is available online now along with all of the latest college football headlines at:

 

 

 

Website: http://espn.go.com/college-football

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CFBonESPN

Twitter: http://twitter.com/espncfb

 

 

 

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