Will ESPN’s ‘College GameDay’ return to the Pac-12 in 2023? A look at the weekly options

The conference has a series of big games looming, but ESPN could go elsewhere

Despite the pomp and circumstance surrounding ESPN’s ‘College GameDay’ broadcasts across the country, the immensely popular pregame show is one of the sport’s best barometers of true relevance — as the Pac-12 is all too aware.

‘College GameDay’ was rarely seen in the Pacific Time Zone during that forgettable stretch in the late 2010s and early 2020s.

In fact, the show was a no-show during the 2019 and 2020 regular seasons before returning for a single episode in both 2021 and 2022. During that time, it set up shop on four Group of Five campuses. It made five trips to Athens, Georgia.

However, the Pac-12 is arguably the best league in the country this season, with the best quarterbacks and several playoff contenders. ‘GameDay’ has followed suit: the show chose Boulder for Colorado’s early-season thriller against Colorado State and was in Seattle this weekend for Washington’s unforgettable victory over Oregon.

‘GameDay’ had not made two regular-season trips to Pac-12 territory since the 2018 season.

Will it make a third and final appearance during the final season of the conference as we know it?

It hasn’t made three trips west since the 2013 season (for broadcasts from Washington, Oregon, and USC).

There are numerous opportunities with the Pac-12’s packed schedule down the stretch.

The following options are listed in chronological order, but readers will quickly notice that some Saturdays are more likely than others.

The ‘GameDay’ locations are determined by the best matchups and storylines, and there are a few other matchups that conflict with Pac-12 games.

(Team rankings are based on the most recent Associated Press poll.)

Oct. 21: No. 14 Utah at No. 18 USC ‘GameDay’ options: No. 6 Penn State at No. 3 Ohio State or No. 16 Duke at No. 4 Florida State Prediction: ESPN has already confirmed that the show will be held in Columbus.

Oct. 28 ‘GameDay’ options: No. 6 Oklahoma at Kansas, Florida vs. No. 1 Georgia, or No. 16 Duke at No. 21 Louisville. Given the lack of top-10 matchups on Oct. 28, ‘GameDay’ could very well head to Salt Lake City if Utah beats USC next week.

Nov. 4 ‘GameDay’ options: No. 20 Missouri at No. 1 Georgia, No. 19 LSU at No. 11 Alabama, or No. 6 Oklahoma at Oklahoma State State Nothing would symbolize the Pac-12’s ascension (against the darkness of collapse) more than ‘GameDay’ passing on Alabama-LSU in favor of a Pac-12 campus. However, the final Bedlam Game before Oklahoma moves to the SEC is undeniably compelling.

November 11 Best Pac-12 matchup: No. 18 USC vs. No. 9 Oregon or No. 14 Utah vs. No. 5 Washington ‘GameDay’ alternatives: No. 2 Michigan will face No. 7 Penn State, Miami will face No. 4 Florida State, and No. 13 Mississippi will face No. 1 Georgia. Prediction: Two fantastic Pacific Northwest options, but one can’t-miss location in Big Ten country. If Michigan and Penn State are both ranked in the top 10, ‘GameDay’ will visit Happy Valley.

Nov. 18: No. 25 UCLA vs. No. 18 USC or No. 5 Washington vs. No. 12 Oregon State ‘GameDay’ alternatives: No. 1 Georgia will play No. 17 Tennessee, No. 2 Michigan will play Maryland, and No. 10 North Carolina will play Clemson. Prediction: The ‘GameDay’ decision is partially based on storylines, and the final regular-season game for the Los Angeles schools as part of the Pac-12 is one for the ages. Also, with most of the top rivalries on hold until Week 13, the options are limited.

Best Pac-12 matchup: Washington State at No. 5 on November 25 Washington ‘GameDay’ alternatives: No. 11 Alabama vs. Auburn or No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Michigan Michigan Prediction: Because the Oregon-Oregon State game is on Friday, this is not an option. But it makes no difference. Obviously, the show will take place in Ann Arbor.

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