College GameDay, ESPN's three-hour flagship college football pregame show, will travel to Harrisonburg, Virginia, Saturday for Richmond’s showdown with undefeated James Madison.
Every Saturday during college football season, College GameDay--a show hosted by Rece Davis along with Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard--breaks down the major college football stories of the week and travels to a campus where a marquee game will happen later in the day. Last week, the GameDay crew hosted their show in Ann Arbor, Michigan ahead of a highly anticipated game between University of Michigan and Michigan State University, which turned into an instant classic.
After several big names, such as Ole Miss and Texas A&M, lost last weekend, College GameDay announced in a tweet that it selected Harrisonburg as this Saturday’s destination.
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) October 19, 2015
University of Notre Dame, Michigan and University of Southern California have been popular destinations for College GameDay since it began traveling to football powerhouses in 1993. In recent years though, College GameDay has highlighted a top game in the Football Championship Subdivision, the level of college football where the Spiders and their Colonial Athletic Association foes play, which is a step below the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Last season, College GameDay visited Cambridge, Massachusetts, for the annual game between Harvard and Yale in a rivalry known simply as The Game. The GameDay crew traveled to Fargo, North Dakota, the previous year to North Dakota State, a perennial FCS power. Other Gameday trips outside of FBS schools include traveling to Florida A&M in 2008, Penn in 2002 and Division III Williams in 2007.
ESPN picked a crucial matchup in one of the FCS’ top conferences. No. 4 JMU (7-0, 4-0) is coming off of a 51-0 dismantling of Elon University, marking the fourth time the Dukes have scored more than 50 points this season. JMU quarterback Vlad Lee has already been featured by ESPN this season, after being named the network's weekly Big Man on Campus. Lee was featured on SportsCenter in late September after his record-setting performance helped the Dukes knock off FBS opponent Southern Methodist University.
The Spiders may not be surging at the Dukes' level, but they look to be one of JMU’s biggest in-conference threats. After losing big to University of Maryland, the No. 11 Spiders (5-1, 3-0) have racked up five consecutive wins, and sit as the only other undefeated team in the conference. Five different Spiders scored touchdowns in a big win at University of Rhode Island on Saturday.
Richmond head coach Danny Rocco said there’s a buzz in the air, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“I think it’s just great for our conference,” Rocco said. “I’m kind of looking at it more as an opportunity for extensive exposure for our league, and I congratulate Coach Withers for the job that he’s doing there and for the success that they’re having that allowed ESPN to make this decision to go to James Madison.”
Saturday’s game is sold out, even though Bridgeforth Stadium, which underwent a $62 million renovation in 2011, holds about 25,000 people. The cheapest ticket on StubHub as of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday was $74.95.
Game tickets are not needed to attend College GameDay, however, and Richmond Athletics is offering free bus transportation to the first 50 students who sign up, according to an email sent to students Tuesday. Richmond Athletics has also included parking and additional information for fans that hope to attend College GameDay.
Saturday’s kickoff is slotted for 3:30 p.m. and the game will be shown on Comcast SportsNet. The game can be heard on the radio at ESPN 950, Sirius Radio channel 118 and XM Radio channel 202.
Contact editor-in-chief Jack Nicholson at firstname.lastname@example.org