When the undefeated Buckeyes travel to Evanston, Illinois to take on the Northwestern Wildcats on Sunday, ESPN's popular "College GameDay" program will be broadcasting live from Northwestern's campus. The presence of "College GameDay" serves to heighten the big game atmosphere surrounding a matchup between two ranked teams that are both currently undefeated.
Northwestern's players are ready to embrace the spotlight. Quarterback Kain Colter told the Chicago Tribune that he rooted for an Ohio State victory over Wisconsin last week so "College GameDay" would come to Evanston for the Wildcats' matchup against the Buckeyes.
The only problem for the Wildcats? Ohio State owns College GameDay.
The Buckeyes have hosted the program 13 times since they began broadcasting live on location in 1993--the most in the history of the popular television program. Right behind the Buckeyes, having hosted College GameDay 12 times since 1993 is head coach Urban Meyer's former program, the University of Florida. College GameDay has also visited the opponent for Ohio State away games to showcase those matchups 16 times. Not too shabby. When Ohio State is playing, it's going to be must-see television (offer not valid against Florida A&M).
Not only have the Buckeyes been frequently included as a feature school on College GameDay, but they have won a majority of contests when Corso, signs, and assorted stuffed animals have been involved. Currently, they have 20 wins and nine losses in games featuring the "College GameDay" experience. Ohio State became a part of television history when, on October 5, 1996, Lee Corso donned a mascot head for the very first time as the crew broadcast live from Ohio State's campus. Corso picked the Buckeyes to beat the Penn State Nittany Lions, and he was correct. Indirectly spawning one of the most iconic moments in the modern college football experience? YOU'RE WELCOME, AMERICA.
This will be Northwestern's second time hosting College GameDay (and first since 1995) and the game is not only the Wildcats' Big Ten opener, but it's also their homecoming. There should be a large crowd in attendance for the nationally televised game, and they should be energetic, as Wildcats fans hope for a second straight 5-0 start for the first time since 1904 (their season opening foe that season? Evanston High School). Also, given the proliferation of Ohio State grads in the Chicagoland area, and their propensity to travel, Northwestern fans expecting to see a uniform sea of purple may find themselves disappointed.
The Wildcats' relative inexperience with the spotlight, either with GameDay, or with being a Big Ten contender generally, could be a distraction for the team. Ohio State's long list of experiences with this kind of big game atmosphere might just be the advantage that puts Ohio State over the top. The trucks, the signs, the cameras, that's all old hat for Ohio State.
And with so much on the line, the Buckeyes will gladly take any advantage they can get.