Commentators for Marquee Games of ESPN’s Best College Football Opening Weekend Schedule Ever

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Commentators for Marquee Games of ESPN’s Best College Football Opening Weekend Schedule Ever

Image is from ESPN’s college football music release

Watch: A Look at ESPN’s Best College Football Opening Weekend Schedule

  • Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Samantha Ponder Call USC vs. Alabama and Ole Miss vs. Florida State
  • Joe Tessitore, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe on Sunday’s Special Notre Dame at Texas Tilt
  • Steve Levy, Greg McElroy, Laura Rutledge and Allison Williams Make Debut with New Commentating Teams

“When you think about great opening weekends in college football, you really don’t have to argue whether this is the greatest: it is. There isn’t really anything that comes close.” – Paul Finebaum, SEC Network

ESPN’s best college football opening weekend ever will include seven marquee matchups over Labor Day Weekend (Sept. 3- Sept. 5) which feature six top 10 teams, 11 top 20 teams and four matchups of ranked teams among its more than 20-game must-see schedule during Field & Stream Kickoff Week.

The defending College Football Playoff National Champions and No. 1-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide vs. No. 12 USC on ABC’s Saturday Night Football (8 p.m. ET) highlights the schedule which includes No. 9 Notre Dame at Texas in a special ABC Sunday prime-time presentation (7:30 p.m.) and No. 14 Ole Miss vs. No. 4 Florida State on Labor Day night (8 p.m. on ESPN). The season begins in earnest on the sport’s first Saturday with No. 5 Oklahoma vs. No. 18 Houston (noon on ABC), No. 6 LSU plays Wisconsin (3:30 p.m. on ABC) from historic Lambeau Field, No. 13 Georgia takes on No. 19 North Carolina (5:30 p.m. on ESPN) and No. 2 Clemson at Auburn (9 p.m. on ESPN).

“These high-caliber games are what makes it the best opening weekend in the history of college football,” said ESPN senior coordinating producer Lee Fitting. “Additionally, we will have marquee commentating teams in place for what is guaranteed to be a memorable three days. For ESPN/ABC, I couldn’t think of a better way to start the most exciting regular season in sports.”

ESPN’s lead commentating team of Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Samantha Ponder will call two games in three days, beginning with ABC’s Saturday Night Football from Arlington, Texas, when the Trojans take on the Crimson Tide. The trio, which Ponder has joined this year, will then call the 2016 Camping World Kickoff in Orlando, Fla., featuring the Rebels vs. Seminoles.

Joe Tessitore makes his return calling prime-time games and will be with Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe in Austin, Texas, when the Fighting Irish and the Longhorns meet for the 12th time in the last 103 years. The game is believed to be ABC’s first-ever live, Sunday, prime-time, regular-season college football game.

Rounding out the commentator assignments for the seven marquee games:

  • Dave Pasch, Greg McElroy, in his new role as a game analyst, and Tom Luginbill will be in Houston for the 2016 AdvoCare Texas Kickoff featuring the Sooners vs. the Cougars, from NRG Stadium.
  • Steve Levy makes his return to calling regular-season college football and will be paired with Brian Griese and Todd McShay in Green Bay, Wis., when the LSU Tigers play the Badgers from Lambeau Field.
  • Bob Wischusen, Brock Huard and their new sideline reporter Allison Williams will be in Atlanta for the 2016 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game featuring the Bulldogs and Tar Heels from the Georgia Dome.
  • Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer and Kaylee Hartung, SEC Network’s lead commentating team throughout the entire season, will be in Auburn, Ala., for the Clemson Tigers at the Auburn Tigers. It will be trio’s second game in three days, with their SEC Network assignment announced later this week.

Additional ESPN College Football Announcements
ESPN’s commentator announcement for the seven marquee games in week 1 is the first of three announcements this week. Tomorrow, ESPN will announce the site of College GameDay Built by the Home Depot for the opening week, and then on Thursday, the complete week 1 schedule, along with commentators for all remaining games.

ESPN/ABC College Football Partial Week 1 Schedule

Day Time (ET) Game Network
Sat, Sept 3 Noon 2016 AdvoCare Texas Kickoff: No. 5 Oklahoma vs. No. 18 Houston (NRG Stadium, Houston)

Dave Pasch, Greg McElroy, Tom Luginbill

  3:30 p.m. No. 6 LSU vs. Wisconsin (Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wis.)

Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Todd McShay

  5:30 p.m. 2016 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game: No. 13 Georgia vs. No. 19 North Carolina (Georgia Dome, Atlanta)

Bob Wischusen, Brock Huard, Allison Williams

  8 p.m. No. 12 USC vs. No. 1 Alabama (AT&T Stadium,  Arlington, Texas)

Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Samantha Ponder

  9 p.m. No. 2 Clemson at Auburn

Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer, Kaylee Hartung

Sun, Sept 4 7:30 p.m. No. 9 Notre Dame at Texas

Joe Tessitore, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe

Mon, Sept 5 8 p.m. 2016 Camping World Kickoff: No. 14 Ole Miss vs. No. 4 Florida State (Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Fla.)

Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Samantha Ponder


*Please note:’s “way too early top 25” rankings were used for this release. ESPN will utilize AP Rankings once they come out on August 21 for the start of the season

Schedule and announcers are subject to change


Media contact: Derek Volner at 860-384-9986; [email protected] and @DerekVolner

Derek Volner

I currently lead ESPN’s NFL Communications, including Monday Night Football, NFL Draft and studio programming. Previously, I did the same for ESPN’s vast college football portfolio. I have been with ESPN since 2013.
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