ESPNU Extends College Football Weekend, Debuts ‘College Football Sunday’ Program

  • New Sunday Morning Show Reflects on Saturday’s Action and Looks Ahead to Upcoming Week
  • College Football Sunday to Feature ESPNU’s Kevin Carter, Jason Sehorn and be Joined by SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum, Analyst Mark May, and Additional Prominent Voices
  • CFB Daily Returns as ESPNU’s Signature Show

ESPNU will extend the college football weekend with the debut of College Football Sunday starting this week, September 6, and continuing throughout the college football season. The new, two-hour show (8 a.m. – 10 a.m. ET) will reflect on the week that was and provide the first look at the upcoming week.

Matt Schick will host College Football Sunday and be joined by college football analysts Kevin Carter and Jason Sehorn. Prominent voices will join the show, including SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum, college football analyst Mark May and key personalities within the sport. College Football Sunday will re-air from 10 a.m. to noon on Sundays.

CFB Daily Returns for Another Season

Following College Football Sunday, ESPNU’s college football coverage will continue throughout the week. CFB Daily, ESPNU’s signature college football show, returns this season and airs weekdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.*  College football analysts Mike Bellotti, Carter, Tom Luginbill, and Sehorn will appear regularly. New this year, Elika Sadeghi joins the show on Thursdays. Schick, Brendan Fitzgerald and Anish Shroff will anchor.

Additional ESPNU fall programming highlights include:

Show Day/Time (E.T.) Description
Crunch Time Mondays
(6 a.m. – 10 a.m.)
Relive college football’s best finishes from the weekend
ESPNU Championship Drive Mondays
(6 p.m. – 7 p.m.)
The road to the College Football Playoff is analyzed
ESPNU Game of the Week Mondays
(8 p.m. – 11 p.m.)
Replay of college football’s game of the week
College Football Featured** Tuesdays
(5 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.)
Stories from various ESPN platforms and shows are aired
Championship Drive: Power Hour Tuesdays
(6 p.m. – 7 p.m.)
High energy show that will dissect various elements of college football through the prism of rankings
ESPNU Film Room Wednesdays
(6:30 – 7 p.m.)
Will go inside the X’s and O’s of college football
Recruiting Nation Thursdays
(6 p.m. – 7 p.m.)
The latest news on college football’s next generation, including verbal commitments and ESPN 300 rankings
First Take: College Football Fridays
(4 – 4:30 p.m.)
The hottest college football topics are debated
The Dan Le Batard Show Weekdays
(10 a.m. – 1 p.m.)
Simulcast of the daily radio show

*CFB Daily will not air on Wednesdays
**Starts Sept. 15

Additional ESPNU fall sports:

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Media contact: Derek Volner at 860-384-9986; Derek.Volner@ESPN.com and @DerekVolner

ESPN’s 2015 Thursday Night Doubleheader Sees Significant Ratings Increases Over 2014 Thursday Night Opener

  • North Carolina at South Carolina up 40%, No. 2 TCU at Minnesota up 27% from Boise State at Ole Miss

ESPN’s Thursday night, college football season opening doubleheader featuring North Carolina at South Carolina (6 p.m. ET) followed by No. 2 TCU at Minnesota (9 p.m. ET)  earned a 40% and 27% overnight rating increase compared to ESPN’s 2014 Thursday night college football opener featuring Boise State vs. Ole Miss (Aug. 28, 2014). South Carolina’s 17-13 victory earned a 2.1 overnight rating, while No. 2 TCU’s 23-17 victory garnered a 1.9 overnight rating, both representing a significant jump from the 1.5 overnight rating received during Ole Miss’ 35-13 victory last season.

Historically, North Carolina at South Carolina’s 2.1 overnight rating is tied as the fifth best ESPN Thursday night opener of all time:

Top 5 ESPN’s Thursday Night College Football Openers (All-Time) 

Ranking Overnight Rating Date Matchup
1. 2.6 August 30, 2012 Vanderbilt  at South Carolina
2. 2.5 August 29, 2013 North Carolina at South Carolina
3. 2.4 September 3, 2009 Oregon at Boise State
4. 2.3 September 3, 2009 South Carolina at NC State
T-5 2.1 September 3, 2015 North Carolina at South Carolina
T-5 2.1 August 30, 2007 LSU at Mississippi State

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Media contact: Derek Volner at 860-384-9986; Derek.Volner@ESPN.com and @DerekVolner

College Football: 28 ESPN Analysts Pick Conference Winners, CFP Semifinal and Title Games, and National Champion

Twenty-eight of ESPN’s college football game and studio analysts provided their picks of the winner for each Power 5 conference, both College Football Playoff Semifinal matchups and the team that will win the second annual College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

Overall, the 28 analysts predicted nine different teams to win the title. Defending national champion Ohio State is the overwhelming favorite to win the national championship, garnering 12 picks to repeat. Alabama, Auburn and TCU follow the Buckeyes with three each; Baylor and Michigan State with 2; and one for LSU, Oregon and Stanford. Highlights:

  • Twelve teams were picked to participate in the national championship matchup, led by Ohio State with 19. Auburn and TCU round out the top three with seven each followed by Alabama (6); Baylor and Michigan State (4 each); LSU (3); and Arizona State, LSU, Oregon, UCLA and USC (1 each).
  • Six of the 12 teams picked to play for the title will face the Buckeyes: Auburn (7), TCU (5), Alabama (3), LSU (2), Baylor (1) and USC (1).
  • The Pac-12 holds the closest race for a title prediction with six different picks: USC (9), Oregon (6), Stanford (5), UCLA (4), Arizona State (3) and Arizona (1).
  • The Big Ten had the least amount of teams picked to win the conference championship with Ohio State favored by 23 analysts and Michigan State five.
  • TCU was the favorite to win the Big 12 with 16 followed by Baylor (9) and Oklahoma (3).
  • The ACC and SEC had four and five teams, respectively, predicted to win the title. Clemson leads the ACC with 15 followed by Florida State (6), Georgia tech (5) and Virginia Tech (2). Auburn is the top team in the SEC with 14 followed by Alabama (7), LSU (5), Georgia (1) and Texas A&M (1).

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ESPN Enterprise Journalism – September 3, 2015

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College GameDay (Saturday, 9 a.m. ET, ESPN)

SportsCenter (Sunday, 11 p.m., ESPN)

 

PREVIEW

Alabama’s starting kicker Adam Griffith is no stranger to adversity. At the 2013 Iron Bowl, with one second left in a tied game, Griffith’s 57-yard field goal attempt against rival Auburn was short and returned for a touchdown – an improbable, history-making play. Just as unlikely is Griffith’s road to Alabama – born in Poland to unfit parents and shuffling through orphanages, with little hope for a bright future. That changed in 2006, when a then 13-year-old Griffith was adopted by a couple in Georgia, where he found a successful high school football career that led to a scholarship at Alabama. Earlier this year, ESPN accompanied the Griffith family as they returned to Poland for the first time since the adoption. Gene Wojciechowski reports as Griffith retraces his roots, discovering a new relationship with those of his distant past along the way.

“In Poland, growing up in the orphanage, there was no dreams. Sometimes you go to bed hungry. You don’t have anything… I was never looking forward to having family, you know?  I just wanted to be on my own… and do my own thing. I guess that was my dream.”Adam Griffith

“I think we’ve gained as much from him as I hope he’s gained from us. When I sit back and I think he’s the kicker at University of Alabama I’m always amazed.”Michelle Griffith, Adam’s adoptive mother

 

Pressure’s on Serena Williams, as Steffi Graf Knows All Too Well

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If anyone can understand the kind of pressure Serena Williams is facing in this year’s US Open, it’s Steffi Graf, who is the last woman to have completed a calendar-year Grand Slam when she achieved the feat in 1988. Nearly 30 years later, Melissa Isaacson interviewed Graf and others on the challenges Williams will face.

 

Turning the Tide

 

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Outside the Lines (Sunday, 9 a.m., ESPN)

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PREVIEW

As he enters his ninth season with Alabama, Nick Saban is still widely considered to be one of the most powerful coaches in college football. He has led the Crimson Tide to four division titles and three national championships. But then there was last year’s crushing loss to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, an off-season that saw three Alabama players get arrested in four days and a pre-season ranking that is the team’s lowest since 2009. But as Paul Finebaum  discovered in a series of all-access interviews, Saban is focused on the season ahead and unapologetic — at times defiant —  about decisions he has made in the past.

 

Inside Bart Starr’s drive to honor fellow Packer Brett Favre

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ESPN the Magazine

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Ian O’Connor takes readers inside the Birmingham, Ala., home of Bart and Cherry Starr. Starr, now 81, is desperately trying to work himself up into shape to be able to walk onto Lambeau Field when Brett Favre’s jersey is retired on Thanksgiving Day. It’s a rough go for a man who can no longer remember who Vince Lombardi was. “I really think we’re going to make it,” Cherry says. “I really do.” She admits she’s a little nervous, but then again, she’s also nervous when she watches Ice Bowl reruns. “I’m still not sure Bart’s going to make it in,” Cherry says.

 

The Sports Reporters

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Sunday, 9 a.m., ESPN; 10 a.m., ESPN2

This week’s Panel*

John Saunders (host)

Howard Bryant

Bob Ryan

Mike Lupica

(subject to change)

 

Outside the Lines Receives Award

ESPN’s Outside the Lines has added another award to its long list of accomplishments: the program, celebrating its 25th anniversary, has been named recipient of the Military Reporters and Editors domestic large broadcast category award for the “Friend Who Fired” story. The segment told the story of the Army Rangers involved in the fatal accident that killed Ranger and professional football player Pat Tillman. None of the Army Rangers who fired upon him spoke publicly about the episode until  ESPN found Steven Elliott, who agreed to break the silence. Nicole Noren was the producer of the segment. The award will be presented Oct. 9 in Washington, D.C.

As Seen on ESPN Front Row:

Behind the Glasses: Scott Van Pelt Discusses New Midnight SportsCenter:

http://www.espnfrontrow.com/2015/09/behind-the-glasses-scott-van-pelt-talks-about-the-new-midnight-sportscenter-scsvp/

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‘America’s Game: 2014 Patriots’ Premieres Tuesday, September 8 at 10:00 PM ET on NFL Network

TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Julian Edelman & DB Devin McCourty Interviewed

Actor Chris Evans Narrates

September 2, 2015: Following a 41-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football, the New England Patriots fell to 2-2 on the year and caused many to raise doubts about the team, their quarterback and their aspirations for the 2014 season. Yet with a simple mindset – “on to Cincinnati” – the Patriots would win 13 of their remaining 15 games, defeat the defending Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks and bring a fourth Lombardi Trophy to Foxboro.

America’s Game: 2014 Patriots debuts on Tuesday, September 8 at 10:00 PM ET, two nights before the Patriots kick off the 2015 regular season at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers. For the show, tight end Rob Gronkowski, wide receiver Julian Edelman and defensive back Devin McCourty tell the story of the 2014 Patriots in their own words. Additionally, the hour-long special features wired sound from the Patriots’ games throughout the season and footage from team practices in Arizona leading up to Super Bowl XLIX, offering an all-access look at the Super Bowl champions.

Actor and Boston native, Chris Evans lends his voice to this year’s edition.

To view the trailer for America’s Game: 2014 Patriots on YouTube, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHpVcJl9ZG8

Below is a sampling of quotes from America’s Game: 2014 Patriots:

“I thought it was a great press conference: on to Cincinnati it was. Who wanted to talk about that Kansas City game? We just got blown out on Monday Night Football…So on to Cincinnati couldn’t have been any better answer.” – Rob Gronkowski on Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s “on to Cincinnati” press conference

“That really challenged the character of a team that had so many new pieces that we didn’t really know how we would react as a team.” – Devin McCourty on the Week 4 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs

“You have one of the best quarterbacks – probably the best quarterback – of all-time. It’s just kind of ridiculous that people jump off that bandwagon, and I hope they keep on doing it because it just fires him up. He’s that kind of guy. So all of the people out there that do that, keep it coming. He likes that stuff.” – Julian Edelman on the blame Patriots quarterback Tom Brady received for the team’s 2-2 start

“It just showed alright this guy is back. He’s the Gronk. The Gronk is here.” – Edelman on Rob Gronkowski’s performance against the Cincinnati Bengals

“I hated Julian. He was that guy in practice that no matter what the tempo was, he was going to go 100 miles an hour. I think the competitive nature that he brings is the reason why he’s so good. I think he kind of encourages everyone around him to play harder. There is no guy you root for harder on a Sunday after covering him all week.” – McCourty on Julian Edelman

“We put it in that week. It was just kind of one of those things where I think we saw a college team do it. It worked. It made those guys a little boggled with what was going on.” – Edelman on the Patriots’ exotic formations against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Divisional Round game

“AFC Championships are fun but AFC Championship rings suck. So let’s kind of ante up, let’s get ready because it’s going to take our all to beat this next team.” – Edelman on defeating the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game to advance to Super Bowl XLIX

“Coach [Bill] Belichick comes over and he says, ‘Just do your job.’ I think it just re-focused us and we just made plays after that.” – McCourty on trailing 24-14 entering the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIX

“Not this again. The Giants, the helmet catch, then the sideline. Now this catch.” – Edelman on Jermaine Kearse’s catch in Super Bowl XLIX

America’s Game, an Emmy Award-winning series, delves deep into the story behind the making of Super Bowl champions. Each episode is a 60-minute documentary in high definition, featuring key members of the winning team telling behind-the-scenes accounts from their championship season. With the signature NFL Films footage, combined with news clips and photos, highlights from team radio broadcasts, inside looks from team meeting rooms, sideline audio and other exclusive features, America’s Game provides an epic and intimate portrait of championship teams.

 

ABOUT NFL MEDIA

NFL Media is comprised of NFL Network, NFL Films, NFL.com, NFL Now, NFL Mobile from Verizon and NFL RedZone.

Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, fans turn to NFL Network to receive information and insight straight from the field, team headquarters, league offices and everywhere the NFL is making news. Launched in 2003, NFL Network gives fans unprecedented year-round inside access to all NFL events, including the Super Bowl, Playoffs, regular season, preseason, Pro Bowl, Pro Football Hall of Fame induction weekend, NFL Draft, NFL Scouting Combine, Senior Bowl, league meetings, minicamps and training camps.

Currently in more than 72 million homes, NFL Network has carriage agreements with each of the country’s largest television providers including Comcast, DirecTV, DISH Network, Cablevision, Cox, Charter, Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-Verse.

For fans on the go, all NFL Network programming can also be streamed live on the NFL Mobile from Verizon app (NFL.com/mobile), the NFL app delivered on XBOX from Microsoft, and through Watch NFL Network (NFL.com/watch), with participating cable and satellite providers. For more information, log on to NFL.com/nflnetwork.  NFL.com is the exclusive internet home of NFL Network.

NFL content has never been more popular across the media landscape. According to the Nielsen Company, the 2014 NFL regular season reached 202.3 million unique viewers, representing 80 percent of all television homes and 68 percent of potential viewers in the U.S. NFL games accounted for the top 20 and 45 of the 50 most-watched TV shows among all programming in 2014.

 

– NFL MEDIA –

Live Doubleheader Highlights Week 4 Preseason Coverage on NFL Network

Week 4 Live Doubleheader Thursday, September 3 –

Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Jets at 7:00 PM ET

San Diego Chargers vs. San Francisco 49ers at 10:00 PM ET

Final Free Preseason Edition of ‘NFL RedZone’ Thursday, September 3 at 7:00 PM ET

It’s time to get ‘Back to Football’ and NFL Network remains the go-to destination to do so, with a live doubleheader of Week 4 preseason games, re-airs of every Week 4 preseason game and the final free preseason edition of NFL RedZone.

On Thursday, September 3 at 7:00 PM ET, the New York Jets host the Philadelphia Eagles live on NFL Network. At 10:00 PM ET, the San Francisco 49ers host the San Diego Chargers in the final preseason game of 2015. Editions of NFL Total Access air Thursday at 6:00 PM ET, during halftime of Eagles-Jets and Chargers-49ers, and following the conclusion of Chargers-49ers with host Dan Hellie and analysts Brian Billick and Heath Evans.

Additionally, NFL Network provides complete game re-airs of every Week 4 preseason game.

With NFL Mobile from Verizon, fans on the go can stream all 65 preseason games on their smartphones when they air on NFL Network, including 13 LIVE preseason games. Plus, get all the latest news and highlights with live NFL Network 24/7. Verizon customers are eligible to live stream content on NFL Mobile. For more information, including how to access, visit vzw.com/nfl. For fans using other devices, all NFL Network programming can also be streamed live on the NFL app delivered on XBOX from Microsoft and through Watch NFL Network (NFL.com/watch) on PCs and tablets, with participating cable and satellite providers.

***Please note that all live games on NFL Network are subject to local blackouts***

On Thursday, September 3 at 7:00 PM ET, Scott Hanson hosts a free preseason edition of NFL RedZone, providing all of the scoring plays and exciting action from the Week 4 preseason games.

Below is NFL Network’s Week 4 broadcast schedule.

NFL NETWORK 2015 WEEK 4 PRESEASON GAMES SCHEDULE

(ALL TIMES EASTERN; LIVE GAMES IN BOLD; ALL GAMES IN HIGH DEFINITION)

Thursday, September 3

7:00 PM ET – Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Jets – LIVE

10:00 PM ET – San Diego Chargers vs. San Francisco 49ers – LIVE

2:00 AM ET – Oakland Raiders vs. Seattle Seahawks

5:00 AM ET – Cincinnati Bengals vs. Indianapolis Colts

Friday, September 4

10:00 AM ET – Buffalo Bills vs. Detroit Lions

1:00 PM ET – Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Miami Dolphins

4:00 PM ET – New York Giants vs. New England Patriots

8:00 PM ET – Carolina Panthers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

12 Midnight ET – Houston Texans vs. Dallas Cowboys

3:00 AM ET – Kansas City Chiefs vs. St. Louis Rams

Saturday, September 5

7:00 AM ET – Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Washington Redskins

10:00 AM ET – Baltimore Ravens vs. Atlanta Falcons

1:00 PM ET – Cleveland Browns vs. Chicago Bears

4:00 PM ET – Minnesota Vikings vs. Tennessee Titans

8:00 PM ET – New Orleans Saints vs. Green Bay Packers

12 Midnight ET – Arizona Cardinals vs. Denver Broncos

3:00 AM ET – Minnesota Vikings vs. Tennessee Titans

Sunday, September 6

7:00 AM ET – Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Miami Dolphins

10:00 AM ET – Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Jets

1:00 PM ET – Carolina Panthers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

4:00 PM ET – New York Giants vs. New England Patriots

8:00 PM ET – Houston Texans vs. Dallas Cowboys

12 Midnight ET – San Diego Chargers vs. San Francisco 49ers

3:00 AM ET – Oakland Raiders vs. Seattle Seahawks

ABOUT NFL MEDIA

NFL Media is comprised of NFL Network, NFL Films, NFL.com, NFL Now, NFL Mobile from Verizon and NFL RedZone.

Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, fans turn to NFL Network to receive information and insight straight from the field, team headquarters, league offices and everywhere the NFL is making news. Launched in 2003, NFL Network gives fans unprecedented year-round inside access to all NFL events, including the Super Bowl, Playoffs, regular season, preseason, Pro Bowl, Pro Football Hall of Fame induction weekend, NFL Draft, NFL Scouting Combine, Senior Bowl, league meetings, minicamps and training camps.

Currently in more than 72 million homes, NFL Network has carriage agreements with each of the country’s largest television providers including Comcast, DirecTV, DISH Network, Cablevision, Cox, Charter, Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-Verse.

For fans on the go, all NFL Network programming can also be streamed live on the NFL Mobile from Verizon app (NFL.com/mobile), the NFL app delivered on Xbox One & Xbox 360 (Xbox.com/nfl) from Microsoft, and through Watch NFL Network (NFL.com/watch), with participating cable and satellite providers. For more information, log on to NFL.com/nflnetwork.  NFL.com is the exclusive internet home of NFL Network.

NFL content has never been more popular across the media landscape. According to the Nielsen Company, the 2014 NFL regular season reached 202.3 million unique viewers, representing 80 percent of all television homes and 68 percent of potential viewers in the U.S. NFL games accounted for the top 20 and 45 of the 50 most-watched TV shows among all programming in 2014.

 

 

– NFL MEDIA –

College GameDay Opens Season from Sundance Square on September 5;

ESPN Studio Crews Live from Several Thursday Night Games

ESPN College GameDay Built by The Home Depot – college football’s longest running and most celebrated pregame show – will begin the season for the second straight year from Sundance Square in Fort Worth, Texas. The weekly three-hour Emmy Award-winning show (Saturdays, 9 a.m.-noon) will open Sept. 5 in advance of the annual neutral-site matchup from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, this year showcasing No. 20 Wisconsin against No. 3 Alabama on Saturday Night Football on ABC presented by Wells Fargo, as part of DICK’s Sporting Goods Kickoff Week at 8 p.m.

Host Rece Davis takes the reigns of the desk, and is joined by familiar faces in analysts Lee CorsoKirk HerbstreitDesmond Howard and David Pollack, as well as contributors Samantha PonderTom RinaldiGeorge Whitfield and Gene Wojciechowski. Chris Fowler and Herbstreit will join together in the booth, along with reporter Heather Cox, for the call of the Wisconsin-Alabama game.

Also returning to GameDay – in her second season as resident DJ – is Cait “Babi Mac” McMahan, who provides entertainment for fans on-site. Country music superstar Brad Paisley will perform his new single, “Country Nation,” for the crowd and viewers at home on Saturday during the College GameDay telecast.

SportsCenter segments will begin in the 9 a.m. hour on Friday from Sundance Square, and College Football Live will originate from the GameDay set at 2 p.m. on ESPN2 with Ponder, Howard and Pollack at the desk.

The opening weekend GameDay telecast will be Corso’s 258th headgear selection, holding a 10-6 all-time week one record (5-1 in last six years). Corso has previously picked Alabama 22 times with a 15-7 record, and has selected Wisconsin four times, holding a 2-2 mark.

Davis, Howard and Pollack will make an additional stop in Blacksburg, Va., for College Football Countdown on Monday, Sept. 7, in advance of a special edition of the ESPN College Football presented by Capital One telecast featuring Virginia Tech vs. defending National Champions and No. 1 Ohio State at 8 p.m. The trio will be on-site for pre-game, halftime and post-game reports, beginning at 7 p.m.

ESPN’s DICK’s Sporting Goods Kickoff Week begins with an ESPN Thursday doubleheader featuring North Carolina vs. South Carolina from Charlotte, at 6 p.m., followed by No. 2 TCU at Minnesota at 9 p.m. Host Adnan Virk, along with analysts Joey Galloway and Danny Kanell, will be live from Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte beginning with College Football Live at 1 p.m. on ESPN2 and a special edition of College Football Countdown at 5 p.m. on ESPN. In addition, host John Saunders and analyst Mark May will be live from TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Thursday night’s telecasts will include live hits from Provo, Utah and site of the Michigan at Utah game from analyst Butch Davis and reporter Marty Smith.

Weekend studio coverage returns to ESPN’s Bristol campus on Friday.

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College GameDay Opens Season from Sundance Square on September 5;

ESPN Studio Crews Live from Several Thursday Night Games

ESPN College GameDay Built by The Home Depot – college football’s longest running and most celebrated pregame show – will begin the season for the second straight year from Sundance Square in Fort Worth, Texas. The weekly three-hour Emmy Award-winning show (Saturdays, 9 a.m.-noon) will open Sept. 5 in advance of the annual neutral-site matchup from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, this year showcasing No. 20 Wisconsin against No. 3 Alabama on Saturday Night Football on ABC presented by Wells Fargo, as part of DICK’s Sporting Goods Kickoff Week at 8 p.m.

Host Rece Davis takes the reigns of the desk, and is joined by familiar faces in analysts Lee CorsoKirk HerbstreitDesmond Howard and David Pollack, as well as contributors Samantha PonderTom RinaldiGeorge Whitfield and Gene Wojciechowski. Chris Fowler and Herbstreit will join together in the booth, along with reporter Heather Cox, for the call of the Wisconsin-Alabama game.

Also returning to GameDay – in her second season as resident DJ – is Cait “Babi Mac” McMahan, who provides entertainment for fans on-site. Country music superstar Brad Paisley will perform his new single, “Country Nation,” for the crowd and viewers at home on Saturday during the College GameDay telecast.

SportsCenter segments will begin in the 9 a.m. hour on Friday from Sundance Square, and College Football Live will originate from the GameDay set at 2 p.m. on ESPN2 with Ponder, Howard and Pollack at the desk.

The opening weekend GameDay telecast will be Corso’s 258th headgear selection, holding a 10-6 all-time week one record (5-1 in last six years). Corso has previously picked Alabama 22 times with a 15-7 record, and has selected Wisconsin four times, holding a 2-2 mark.

Davis, Howard and Pollack will make an additional stop in Blacksburg, Va., for College Football Countdown on Monday, Sept. 7, in advance of a special edition of the ESPN College Football presented by Capital One telecast featuring Virginia Tech vs. defending National Champions and No. 1 Ohio State at 8 p.m. The trio will be on-site for pre-game, halftime and post-game reports, beginning at 7 p.m.

ESPN’s DICK’s Sporting Goods Kickoff Week begins with an ESPN Thursday doubleheader featuring North Carolina vs. South Carolina from Charlotte, at 6 p.m., followed by No. 2 TCU at Minnesota at 9 p.m. Host Adnan Virk, along with analysts Joey Galloway and Danny Kanell, will be live from Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte beginning with College Football Live at 1 p.m. on ESPN2 and a special edition of College Football Countdown at 5 p.m. on ESPN. In addition, host John Saunders and analyst Mark May will be live from TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Thursday night’s telecasts will include live hits from Provo, Utah and site of the Michigan at Utah game from analyst Butch Davis and reporter Marty Smith.

Weekend studio coverage returns to ESPN’s Bristol campus on Friday.

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