Wednesday, March 4, 2020

How Might the Thursday & Friday night CFB Schedules Shake Out for 2020?

Patching together Thursday & Friday night schedule.  Please note that I've left Black Friday alone as each network group could do something different.

Should look like this:


Thursday night doesn't have much intrigue with the exception of potentially replacing SMU at Temple if there's an Eagles home game scheduled for that evening.  Friday still has a couple openings.

Please note that this is for ESPN & ESPN2 only.  ESPNU will have its own schedule of Thursday night games from the Sun Belt & HBCU conferences and Friday should have a package of Ivy League games.

9/3: Clemson at Georgia Tech
9/10: None (opening night NFL)
9/17: UAB at Miami (FL)
9/24: UCF at ECU
10/1: Memphis at SMU
10/8: Tulane at Houston
10/15: Baylor at Texas Tech
10/22: Boston College at Virginia Tech
10/29: Utah at UCLA
11/5: SMU at Temple
11/12: ECU at Cincinnati
11/19: Florida State at Syracuse
11/26: Mississippi State at Ole Miss

9/4: North Carolina at UCF (ESPN)
9/11: Western Michigan at Cincinnati (ESPN2 with US Open on ESPN)
9/18: UCF at Georgia Tech (ESPN)
9/25: ???
10/2: Clemson at Boston College & Utah State at BYU (ESPN)
10/9: Miami (FL) at Wake Forest & Colorado at Arizona (ESPN)
10/16: UCF at Memphis & Houston at BYU (ESPN, or one on ESPN while the other airs on ESPN2)
10/23: Tulsa at USF & Arizona at Washington (ESPN2)
10/30: ECU at Tulsa (ESPN2)
11/6: Virginia Tech at Pitt (ESPN2)
11/13: Virginia at Duke (ESPN2)
11/20: ???

Both nights that are currently open have UConn home games, so if ESPN were to be working with the Huskies to carry a couple football games, they could slot in here (Indiana on 9/25 moving from 9/26, Middle Tennessee on 11/20 moving from 11/21). 9/25 could end up being a night ESPN airs MLB as a "pennant race" window, pushing any college football to ESPN2 or vice versa.  11/20 could have a later game due to ESPN covering the NBA, plus ESPN2 & ESPNU should be carrying some early season men's college basketball events, so maybe not a UConn game, but a Sun Belt instead if it involves one of the schools on Central time.


9/3: Oregon State at Oklahoma State
10/29: Iowa State at Kansas State

9/4: Indiana at Wisconsin
9/18: Iowa at Minnesota
9/25: Air Force at Fresno State or San Diego State at Nevada
10/2: USC at Utah
10/30: Oregon State at Stanford
11/6: BYU at Boise State
11/13: Arizona State at Oregon
11/20: Utah State at Colorado State

Why not the other Fridays?
  • 9/11 has regular season MLB on FS1 at 7pm ET.  I don't see a Mountain West game worth moving to air after MLB, though I could see UTEP at Nevada moving there if FS1 chose it.
  • I'm leaving open 10/9 & 10/16 for MLB postseason. I think they'll end up giving up one of their NLDS games on 10/2 to MLB Network which should allow them to carry USC at Utah.
  • On 10/23, FS1 has to be left open for Smackdown to air there due to the World Series airing on FOX. 
It would make some sense for FS1 to add Mountain West games on 9/25 (would have to be after NASCAR, but both MW schools hosting are on Pacific time, so an 8pm PT / 11pm ET host is possible, or the game airs on FS2) & 11/20.  I know they have the ability to carry up to five Mountain West Friday night games, but I don't they will use them all unless a couple Friday night games air on FS2.  At this time, I'm not sure I'd move games to Friday night to air on FS2, though it is in more homes than CBS Sports Network.

CBS Sports Network
I think things could shake out like this:

9/3: Washington State at Utah State
10/15: WKU at UAB

9/4: Bucknell at Army (linear TV) & Wake Forest at Old Dominion (CBSSN on Facebook)
9/25: C-USA
10/3: UNLV at San Diego State
10/10: C-USA
10/17: Hawai'i at Air Force
10/24: Colorado State at UNLV
11/13: C-USA

At the moment, I've left 11/6 & 11/20 as unavailable.  11/6 already has the PBR World Finals late in the evening and I believe the Veterans Classic men's basketball event would be slotted in for the time leading into PBR.  On 11/20, there should be coverage of the Jamaica Classic men's basketball event all day.

As for why I selected specific Mountain West games, but didn't for C-USA except WKU at UAB, its because I don't have a great feel for which games would be candidates to move.  WKU at UAB is a unique situation as it is the only UAB home game that coincides with a Saturday where both Alabama and Auburn are at home vs. SEC opponents.  Figured it was a good idea to get UAB off of a Saturday date in that situation.

Also, my Week Three predictions had Utah at Wyoming as a candidate to move to Friday night, but I've backed away from that in favor of a C-USA game on 9/25.  After seeing that this would put Utah at three weeknight games, I figured they would not want the Wyoming game moved.

It looks like ACC Network will carry three weeknight games

9/3: Either Clemson at Georgia Tech or NC State at Louisville
9/4: Syracuse at Boston College
9/11: Appalachian State at Wake Forest

SEC Network usually takes one or two games for the opening Thursday night of the season as well.  The options might be limited.  Some schools really do not want night classes disrupted if they are in session and the football stadium is on campus, as it can cause parking issues.  When Tennessee hosted a Thursday night game in 2016, they shut down classes for that day.

The games that could be targeted include Coastal Carolina at South Carolina, Abilene Christian at Texas A&M and Mercer at Vanderbilt.  Texas A&M has been the Thursday night host the last two years, so that could leave them out.  I know that my Week One predictions have Coastal Carolina at South Carolina & Nevada at Arkansas, but the latter might not be an option as it is being played in Fayetteville and not in Little Rock.  When Arkansas hosted Florida A&M on Thursday night in 2017, it was played in Little Rock.

Pac-12 Network should also be the carrier of the Northern Arizona at Arizona State game on 9/3.


Anonymous said...

It will be interesting in how the MWC and Big 12 land on FS2.

Serge said...

Nice read; I did a similar excercise myself, but I'm projecting FS1 will use their full 5 Friday night games, simply because there's not a lot of room on Saturdays and they are committed to showing at least 12 games on FOX + FS1.

I penciled AZ/UNLV after baseball on 9/26, SDSU/Nevada after NASCAR on 9/25, UNLV/BSU after NASCAR on 10/30, BYU/BSU on 11/6 (this one is pretty much a lock) and Utah St/Col. St on 11/20.

As for FS2, I'm guessing 5 MWC games (all on Saturdays) plus the 3 extra Big 12 games whenever there are 5 conference games in a week and ESPN only takes 2 games...

Matt said...

Minimum of 7 MWC games on FOX or FS1.

16-23 regular season games.

(I hope FOX Sports uses the max. Put many on FS2. Build that network!) I do what the small hand full of Big 12 football, Big 12 women's basketball and some Big East games land on FS2, instead of Sinclair's RSN.)

Anonymous said...

nice blog.