Will they or won’t they? That question is reverberating around Bison Nation after North Dakota State toppled the nationally ranked Iowa Hawkeyes 23-21 at Kinnick Stadium last weekend. With the win over Iowa, there’s a possibility that ESPN’s “College GameDay” makes their third trip in four years to the college football capitol of the heartland and visits downtown Fargo homecoming weekend on October 1 with the familiar faces of Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, Desmond Howard, and Rece Davis.
GameDay’s twitter flashed Bison green and yellow with the news of another NDSU victory over an FBS opponent. “Bama rallied, North Dakota State does it again and Lamar Jackson wants that Heisman in the @ATT Best of the Best,” Herbstreit tweeted. “I see you BIZON. Nobody should be surprised. Taking care of that business,” echoed one of Fargo’s favorites, Lee Fitting, the former GameDay producer who was promoted earlier this month by ESPN, but based on his tweets, appears to still have a role in selecting where college football’s grandest traveling road show will go next.
The last time NDSU knocked off a big-time FBS opponent, Kansas State in August 2013, GameDay made their initial appearance at the then two-time defending FCS champion Bison. Three years and three more national titles later, NDSU is the five-time defending champs with the foot pressed hard on the accelerator looking for their sixth straight, the ridiculous hexa-peat.
The Bison remain a huge story in the landscape of college football and Carson Wentz is making waves in the NFL. The Bison have won six straight against FBS opponents, five of them from a Power 5 conference. The most recent, Iowa, was ranked No. 13 in the country and favored to win the Big Ten west division after last year’s appearance in the Rose Bowl. On the NFL-front, Wentz, everyone’s favorite North Dakotan, Jon Gruden’s bro-crush and the state’s poster boy, is a household name after leading the Philadelphia Eagles to a 2-0 record and looking more like a top five NFL quarterback than a rookie.
So, why not Fargo? You thought we threw a party the first two times you came, ESPN. Just wait to see what we have in store for homecoming in Bisonland. As Corso would say, not so fast, Bison friends! Looking at the college football schedule for the week of October 1, when NDSU plays Illinois State at the Fargodome, there are two games standing in the way of GameDay returning to Fargo.
The leading candidate for GameDay that Saturday is Louisville versus Clemson. In a close second in the horserace is Wisconsin traveling to the Big House at Michigan to play Jim Harbaugh’s khaki-clad Wolverines.
Louisville is the hottest team in the country after dismantling then No. 2 Florida State 63-20 the same day the Bison beat the Hawkeyes. The win catapulted the Cardinals to No. 3 in the AP Poll. Their quarterback, the aforementioned Jackson, is the early frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy. Clemson, who lost to Alabama in last January’s College Football Playoff championship, struggled in close wins to Auburn and Troy, but remains No. 5 in the nation. If both teams are undefeated, GameDay heads to Clemson, South Carolina.
Louisville is at Marshall and should win that game without much difficulty (right, that’s what Iowa said about NDSU). Clemson, however, has a tricky game against Georgia Tech on Thursday night. While Georgia Tech is unranked, they’re 3-0 with an impressive win over Vanderbilt. The game is at Georgia Tech. Clemson has not fared well in Atlanta, with Georgia Tech taking the last five contests played in the Peach State. Clemson last won there in 2003. On top of that, preparing for a unique offense like Georgia Tech’s option attack on a short week is tough. Step one for a third GameDay appearance – Georgia Tech needs to beat Clemson.
Even if the Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech somehow finds a way to takedown Clemson, Wisconsin or Michigan needs to stumble as well. Wisconsin opened the season with an impressive win against an overrated Louisiana State squad and has since climbed to No. 11 in the polls. Wisconsin plays No. 8 Michigan State this Saturday, who just beat Notre Dame in South Bend. No. 4 Michigan is home against Penn State. Michigan shouldn’t have a problem with Penn State. If Wisconsin beats Michigan State, they vault into the Top 10, setting up a huge Big Ten matchup at Michigan, a favorite to make the College Football Playoff. GameDay probably picks an undefeated showdown between a resurgent Wisconsin and Michigan–even though GameDay opened the season in Green Bay with Wisconsin against LSU–over Fargo. Step two to see Corso representing the fur Bison coat in Downtown Fargo, Sparty needs to slay Bucky Badger in East Lansing, Michigan.
What bodes in NDSU’s favor, though, and could be the trump card, is Wentz. The Eagles have a bye week when the Bison could potentially host GameDay. Having Wentz on the sports world’s radar and teed-up as a potential guest picker doesn’t hurt NDSU’s chances. It won’t beat an undefeated Clemson playing Louisville, but Wentz’s rocket right arm may yet again help the Bison, this time in landing GameDay over an undefeated Wisconsin versus Michigan game. Let the scoreboard watching begin.