Since there has been conjecture as to whether Notre Dame at Michigan should be a night game on ABC putting it head to head with World Series Game Four or placed elsewhere on the schedule, I went back through Sports Media Watch's ratings pages to see how other games on broadcast television did against the World Series. The site has archived college football numbers going back to 2012, so I went back that far as well.
Notre Dame happened to play three times in primetime on these competing Saturday as well, which is an interesting comparison point as well. Only one was vs. a Power Five opponent though.
In 2012 & 2013, World Series Game Three was on Saturday. From 2014 on, it was Game Four. If the college football game is in bold, it was the highest rated game of the day per Nielsen.
Also, I'm sticking with the linear TV number & not adding in streaming numbers.
2012: Notre Dame at Oklahoma (5.2, 8.6m), Detroit-San Francisco (6.1, 10.5m)
2013: Penn St. at Ohio St. (2.5, 4.06m), St. Louis-Boston (7.4, 12.5m)
2014: Ohio St. at Penn St. (2.9, 4.67m), San Francisco-Kansas City (6.3, 10.6m)
2015: Notre Dame at Temple (3.6, 5.977m), NY Mets-Kansas City (9.29, 13.58m)
2016: Florida St. at Clemson (3.2, 5.38m), Cleveland-Chicago Cubs (9.3, 16.71m)
2017: ACC/Big 12 split window (2.0, 3.464m), LA Dodgers-Houston (8.7, 15.4m)
2018: Texas at Oklahoma St. (2.1, 3.486m) & Notre Dame vs. Navy (1.5, 2.447m), Boston-LA Dodgers (7.9, 13.56m)
In five of the seven cases of the World Series games, the Saturday game was the lowest rating game or tied for it within its World Series, or the household number was the lowest of the series. I think its reasonable to say that college football puts a dent in the World Series number for Saturday night, but it also depends on the quality of the games in the series, as we're going only with broadcast network games and not including games on cable.
There's also a lot of context to a week's college football ratings. I encourage you to look over Sports Media Watch to see the entire day's ratings. If you're wondering what the highest game is on TV the weeks when it wasn't the game listed here, please visit his site.
There's context alone when it comes to October 26th. Wisconsin at Ohio St. could be a game between two undefeated teams, or Penn St. at Michigan St. could be a high profile game. Auburn at LSU could draw fans if its the CBS 3:30pm game.
ESPN has to make the choice as to whether its going to be a night game on October 14th. Big Ten night games have to be declared 12 days in advance, though the network can be flexible as Notre Dame at Northwestern had the option of 7:15pm ET ESPN or 7:30pm ET ABC on November 3rd last year. They don't have the ability to hold the game time until October 20th to see what the World Series matchup could be, and they still might only know the NL side if both series go to Game Seven. Part of me sees that Notre Dame at Oklahoma number and thinks that's a barometer based on traditional, multi-decade college football brand names, but that game was also between top ten ranked teams (#5 Notre Dame vs. #8 Oklahoma). By the time this game is slotted for TV, both teams should be ranked, but I don't think it will be to the level of a matchup of top ten teams and Michigan could drop in the polls if it loses to Penn St. on 10/19.
Of the games listed, the bolded college football games also happen to the only games involving two schools ranked in the top 25, but the Notre Dame at Oklahoma game was the only one where both were in the top ten. All other games had one ranked school. Yes, Temple was ranked.
So no, I haven't made up my mind and that won't happen until Sunday morning.