A Brief History of ESPN's College GameDay at the Site of Ohio State Football Games

By Jason Priestas on September 4, 2017 at 7:55 am
Archie Griffin, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit on the set of College GameDay at Ohio State.

Allen Kee / ESPN Images

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Whatever your thoughts about ESPN's College GameDay, there's no denying that it's a college football institution.

Ever since Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and Craig James set up shop in South Bend for the Florida State–Notre Dame game in 1993, ESPN's traveling tailgate has visited more than 80 towns, large and small, on campus and at neutral sites.

Fan signs – whether crude or clever – have taken on a life of their own, with Eleven Warriors signs even making an appearance at GameDays past. Washington State, not known for much of anything on the gridiron, is a GameDay fixture with the presence of Ol' Crimson. And then there's Corso, who has taken a schtick to legendary heights with his donning of mascot headgear every week.

Saturday, when the Buckeyes welcome No. 6 Oklahoma to town, College GameDay will be there, too, marking the 39th GameDay appearance on site for an Ohio State game, tying Alabama for the most of any program. It will also be College GameDay's 16th visit to Columbus, technically tying Alabama again for the most GameDays hosted, although the Tide played three of those games off-campus in nearby Birmingham.

GameDay for Ohio State

OVERALL RECORD: 26–12
HOME RECORD: 11–4
ROAD RECORD: 11–4
POSTSEASON RECORD: 4–4
AS HIGHER RANKED: 22–8
AS LOWER RANKED: 4–4

Even more notable, GameDay will be on site for a fourth-straight Ohio State game – Michigan and Clemson in 2016, and Indiana and Oklahoma this year – a first for any program.

ESPN GameDay has been good to Ohio State. The Buckeyes hold a 26–12 record in games played following a GameDay appearance, and are 11–4 in those games played in Columbus.

Boasting the most wins of any program over the last 20 years and a massive fanbase that brings ratings, it's no surprise that Ohio State has been featured so many times. However, the Buckeyes would have to wait three years – nearly 21 games – from that very first GameDay until they played their first game next to an ESPN set.

And then they caught up quickly.

In 1996, the Buckeyes were treated to GameDay appearances for three games in a row: Sept. 28, when No. 4 Ohio State traveled to No. 5 Notre Dame, Oct. 5, when No. 4 Penn State took on No. 3 Ohio State in Columbus, and then the following week, when No. 2 Ohio State played at No. 20 Iowa. The Bucks would win all three of those games. In fact, they'd win their first 10 games played following a GameDay appearance, before suffering their first defeat under these conditions, losing 35-21 to No. 5 Michigan in 2003.

Ohio State has enjoyed three different four-game GameDay winning streaks through the years, and one four-game losing streak, featuring a particularly brutal stretch that started with the BCS Championship game loss to LSU in 2008, and a 13-6 loss at Penn State that same year, sandwiched between two forgettable performances against USC.

This current streak of four-straight games is one of three streaks of at least three games in a row featuring Ohio State. The other two were the aforementioned run in 1996 and in 2002-03, when Ohio State won their final two GameDay appearances of the 2002 season (Michigan in Columbus and Miami at the BCS Championship) before opening the 2003 season in front of the ESPN GameDay crew when they welcomed No. 17 Washington to town.

Lee Corso holds an Ohio State helmet up on the College GameDay set in 2016.

The high point of GameDay's love affair with Ohio State came during the 2006 season, when ESPN appeared at five games on Ohio State's schedule: Texas, Penn State, Iowa, Michigan and Florida. To fans, the low point in this relationship most certainly took place in the final game of that season when Urban Meyer's Gators blitzed the Bucks, 41-14. Regardless, the five appearances that season represent the most of any program in one season, matched only by Alabama in 2008.

There were lean years, too. When College GameDay came to Columbus for the Michigan State game in 2015, it marked the first time in over five years that ESPN broadcast a GameDay from Central Ohio. For those cursed to have been at that game, it was forgettable for a lot of reasons, not least of which were the weather and the L that a loaded Ohio State team took that day.

Oh, and Corso? He's been right 20 of the 30 times in which he's tossed Brutus Buckeye's headgear on.

All things considered, it's been a great relationship for the Buckeyes. Consider this: the 39 appearances for Ohio State games are three more than the combined GameDay appearances for Michigan (11), Michigan State (8), Nebraska (6), Wisconsin (6) and Penn State (5).

ESPN College GameDay Appearances for Ohio State Games
Date Game Location WINNER
SEPT. 28, 1996 #4 OHIO STATE at #5 NOTRE DAME SOUTH BEND, INDIANA OHIO STATE, 29–16
OCT. 5, 1996 #4 PENN STATE at #3 OHIO STATE COLUMBUS, OHIO OHIO STATE, 38–7
OCT. 26, 1996 #2 OHIO STATE at #20 IOWA IOWA CITY, IOWA OHIO STATE 38–26
OCT. 4, 1997 #8 IOWA at #7 OHIO STATE COLUMBUS, OHIO OHIO STATE, 23–7
OCT. 3, 1998 #7 PENN STATE at #1 OHIO STATE COLUMBUS, OHIO OHIO STATE, 28–9
SEPT. 14, 2002 #10 WASHINGTON STATE at #6 OHIO STATE COLUMBUS, OHIO OHIO STATE, 25–7
NOV. 23, 2002 #12 MICHIGAN at #2 OHIO STATE COLUMBUS, OHIO OHIO STATE, 14–9
JAN. 3, 2003 BCS CHAMPIONSHIP: #2 OHIO STATE vs. #1 MIAMI TEMPE, ARIZONA OHIO STATE, 31–24 (2OT)
AUG. 30, 2003 #17 WASHINGTON at #2 OHIO STATE COLUMBUS, OHIO OHIO STATE, 28–9
NOV. 15, 2003 #11 PURDUE at #4 OHIO STATE COLUMBUS, OHIO OHIO STATE, 16–13 (OT)
NOV. 22, 2003 #4 OHIO STATE at #5 MICHIGAN ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN MICHIGAN, 35–21
SEPT. 10, 2005 #2 TEXAS at #4 OHIO STATE COLUMBUS, OHIO TEXAS, 25–22
OCT. 8, 2005 #6 OHIO STATE at #16 PENN STATE UNIVERSITY PARK, PENNSYLVANIA PENN STATE, 17–10
SEPT. 9, 2006 #1 OHIO STATE at #2 TEXAS AUSTIN, TEXAS OHIO STATE, 24–7
SEPT. 23, 2006 #24 PENN STATE at #1 OHIO STATE COLUMBUS, OHIO OHIO STATE, 28–6
SEPT. 30, 2006 #1 OHIO STATE at #13 IOWA IOWA CITY, IOWA OHIO STATE, 38–17
NOV. 18, 2006 #2 MICHIGAN at #1 OHIO STATE COLUMBUS, OHIO OHIO STATE, 42–39
JAN. 8, 2007 BCS CHAMPIONSHIP: #2 FLORIDA vs. #1 OHIO STATE GLENDALE, ARIZONA FLORIDA, 41–14
OCT. 27, 2007 #1 OHIO STATE at #25 PENN STATE UNIVERSITY PARK, PENNSYLVANIA OHIO STATE, 37–17
NOV. 17, 2007 #7 OHIO STATE at #23 MICHIGAN ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN OHIO STATE, 14–3
JAN. 7, 2008 BCS CHAMPIONSHIP: #2 LSU at #1 OHIO STATE NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA LSU, 38–24
SEPT. 13, 2008 #5 OHIO STATE at #1 USC LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA USC, 35–3
OCT. 25, 2008 #3 PENN STATE at #10 OHIO STATE COLUMBUS, OHIO PENN STATE, 13–6
SEPT. 12, 2009 #3 USC at #8 OHIO STATE COLUMBUS, OHIO USC, 18–15
JAN. 1, 2010 ROSE BOWL: #8 OHIO STATE vs. #7 OREGON PASADENA, CALIFORNIA OHIO STATE, 26–17
OCT. 16, 2010 #1 OHIO STATE at #18 WISCONSIN MADISON, WISCONSIN WISCONSIN, 31–18
NOV. 13, 2010 PENN STATE at #7 OHIO STATE COLUMBUS, OHIO OHIO STATE, 38–24
JAN. 4, 2011 SUGAR BOWL: #8 ARKANSAS vs. #6 OHIO STATE NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA OHIO STATE, 31–26
SEPT. 29, 2012 #14 OHIO STATE at #20 MICHIGAN STATE EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN OHIO STATE, 17–16
OCT. 5, 2013 #4 OHIO STATE at #16 NORTHWESTERN EVANSTON, ILLINOIS OHIO STATE, 40–30
DEC. 7, 2013 B1G CHAMPIONSHIP: #10 MICHIGAN STATE vs. #2 OHIO STATE INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA MICHIGAN STATE, 34–24
NOV. 8, 2014 #13 OHIO STATE at #7 MICHIGAN STATE EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN OHIO STATE, 49–37
JAN. 12, 2015 CFP CHAMPIONSHIP: #5 OHIO STATE vs. #3 OREGON ARLINGTON, TEXAS OHIO STATE, 42–20
NOV. 21, 2015 #9 MICHIGAN STATE at #2 OHIO STATE COLUMBUS, OHIO MICHIGAN STATE, 17–14
OCT. 15, 2016 #2 OHIO STATE at #8 WISCONSIN MADISON, WISCONSIN OHIO STATE, 30–23 (OT)
NOV. 26, 2016 #3 MICHIGAN at #2 OHIO STATE COLUMBUS, OHIO OHIO STATE, 30–27 (2OT)
DEC. 31, 2016 FIESTA BOWL: #3 CLEMSON vs. #2 OHIO STATE GLENDALE, ARIZONA CLEMSON, 31–0
AUG. 31, 2017 #2 OHIO STATE at INDIANA BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA OHIO STATE, 49–21
SEPT. 9, 2017 #6 OKLAHOMA at #2 OHIO STATE COLUMBUS, OHIO
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