The exhilarating start to the season has stirred dreams of ESPN’s College Gameday making its first ever appearance at Syracuse. The Orange have come close to hosting of the sport’s most visible and popular show, but it’s never quite come to fruition. The 4-0 record combined with a gimme win over Wagner this weekend will mean a ranked SU squad looking at two tasty matchups against elite conference foes coming up. Could this be the year, finally?
This week ESPN decided to head to South Carolina for a top-10 matchup. The #10 NC State at #5 Clemson game kills the two shots SU realistically had of being part of Gameday. Coming into the season, the Wolfpack were predicted to be the greatest ACC threat to Clemson superiority (even though Pitt won the league last year). And so far NC State has delivered on that promise with an undefeated record and a #10 ranking. So ESPN execs are validated for making this game – at Clemson – the site of Gameday.
But that means SU is out of luck, because ESPN won’t make an ACC game, and specifically one featuring NC State or Clemson, the nationally spotlighted game again so soon. The Orange will likely be 5-0 hosting NC State on October 15, and the Pack could also be undefeated with a win over Clemson. But NC State going on the road in conference two weeks later would feel too similar for the Gameday matchup.
This also takes SU out of the mix for the Clemson game the following week on October 22. If the two squads are meeting up and both are undefeated, it would get a premier time slot, probably 7p on ESPN. But again, ESPN isn’t going to travel to Clemson twice in three weeks.
To host Gameday would then mean either getting the ESPN cameras up to CNY for the Notre Dame or Florida State games. The unranked Irish already have two losses, and play #19 BYU in two weeks. There’s not really a path for a 5-2 Irish team whose best win is over the Cougars to host Gameday. And while FSU also has a spotless record, and undefeated SU vs. undefeated FSU would be a crazy occurrence, what are the odds both teams enter that weekend still highly ranked?
SU has #10 NC State, #5 Clemson, Notre Dame and #23 Pitt before that. Even if the Orange split those four, ESPN wouldn’t want a two-loss Orange squad to host the weekend. FSU also has NC State and Clemson before the tilt against the Orange. Both SU and Florida State will have some losses before their game.
This season still has a chance to be memorable, but the hope for breaking the Gameday drought went out the window this week.