Football is Back in Session: ESPN Solidifies Game Assignments and Production Features for Five-Day, 75+ Game Kickoff Week

College Football

Football is Back in Session: ESPN Solidifies Game Assignments and Production Features for Five-Day, 75+ Game Kickoff Week

  • Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Maria Taylor Call ABC’s Saturday Night Football 11 Oregon vs. No. 16 Auburn; Trio Also Calls ESPN’s Labor Day Night Game Featuring No. 9 Notre Dame at Louisville
  • Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe Call ABC’s Fourth Annual Kickoff Weekend Sunday Night Prime-time Special: No. 4 Oklahoma Hosting Houston
  • Matt Hasselbeck, Dan Orlovsky and Louis Riddick Begin New College Football Roles; Ryan Leaf and Pat McAfee Debut in New Analyst Roles
  • No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Georgia and No. 4 Oklahoma on ESPN’s Networks; The Crimson Tide vs. Duke in ESPN CFB150 Showcase Game of the Week
  • Innovation and Technology Front and Center: Multiple New Cameras Provide Dynamic Views; BlimpCast Returns for Labor Day Night

ESPN has solidified its game assignments for the network’s annual College Football Kickoff Weekend featuring more than 75 games, including more than half of the ranked teams’ season openers, across Labor Day weekend (Aug. 29 – Sept. 2). Today’s announcement comes just days after ESPN’s College Football 150 multi-platform initiative was fully launched and hours before the network’s Week 0 action, which includes the return of College GameDay Built by The Home Depot, the first ESPN CFB 150 Showcase Game featuring Miami and No. 8 Florida in the Camping World Kickoff and the airing of Football is US: The College Game.

Fowler, Herbstreit & Taylor Front and Center for Two Prime-time Games
Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Maria Taylor will be front and center for the season debut of ABC’s Saturday Night Football featuring No. 11 Oregon vs. No. 16 Auburn (7:30 p.m. ET) from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Pac-12 – SEC showdown will mark the start of the trio’s third season together.

Fowler, Herbstreit and Taylor will then call ESPN’s annual Labor Day game, featuring No. 9 Notre Dame at Louisville (8 p.m.). The game will cap a 10-day, three-game stretch for ESPN’s lead commentating group, which will begin with the aforementioned Hurricanes-Gators showdown on Saturday, August 24, on ESPN (7 p.m.).

McDonough, Blackledge and Rowe Onsite for Fourth Annual Kickoff Weekend ABC Sunday Night Special
Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe begin their second tour together in Norman, Okla., as No. 4 Oklahoma hosts Houston in ABC’s fourth annual Kickoff Weekend Sunday night special (7:30 p.m.). The game is the only prime-time game of the day and is expected to feature the Sooners debut of quarterback Jalen Hurts.

Levy, Griese, McShay and McGrath Call ESPN CFB150 Showcase Game of the Week Featuring No. 2 Alabama
Leading into Saturday Night Football, Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Todd McShay and Molly McGrath will call ESPN CFB150 Showcase Game of the Week between Duke vs. No. 2 Alabama in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game on ABC (3:30 p.m.).  Starting ABC’s Saturday tripleheader, Mark Jones, Dusty Dvoracek and Olivia Dekker will call Ole Miss at Memphis (noon).

On ESPN, Dave Pasch, Greg McElroy, and Tom Luginbill will call ESPN’s prime-time game, as Boise State plays Florida State in Jacksonville, Fla., (7 p.m.). Leading into the non-conference matchup, Dan Orlovsky begins his first year with Bob Wischusen and Allison Williams as they call South Carolina vs. North Carolina in the 2019 Belk Kickoff (3:30 p.m.) from Charlotte, N.C. Beth Mowins, Anthony Becht and Rocky Boiman begin the day with South Alabama at Nebraska (noon).

New Season, New Faces
ESPN welcomes new additions to its roster, with each beginning their new, regular roles as college football game analysts:

  • Thursday Night: Pat McAfee and Matt Hasselbeck join Adam Amin and Molly McGrath for UCLA at Cincinnati on ESPN (7 p.m.) – August 29
  • Friday Night: Louis Riddick will be with Dave Flemming and Paul Carcaterra for No. 19 Wisconsin at South Florida (7 p.m.) – August 30
  • Saturday: Ryan Leaf will be with Clay Matvick for Georgia State at Tennessee on ESPNU (3:30 p.m.)

ACC Network Featuring No. 1 Clemson, SEC Network with No. 3 Georgia, and Longhorn Network with No. 10 Texas Begin Game Slates

  • ACC Network’s Primetime Football team of Dave O’Brien, Tim Hasselbeck and Katie George will make their debut when they call the first live football game on the network: Georgia Tech at No. 1 Clemson on Thursday, Aug. 29 (8 p.m.)


  • SEC Network’s SEC Saturday Night team of Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers and Cole Cubelic will call No. 3 Georgia at Vanderbilt (7:30 p.m.)


  • Longhorn Network’s Lowell Galindo, Ahmad Brooks, and Taylor Davis will call No. 10 Texas’ season opener, as the Longhorns host Louisiana Tech (8 p.m.).

Innovation and Technology Key Themes to Industry Leading Coverage
ESPN’s innovation and technology will be on display throughout the five-day stretch, highlighted by the following features:

  • BlimpCast will be live on Labor Day night, as the Goodyear Blimp flies high above Cardinal Stadium with Marty Smith and Ryan McGee onboard, reacting in real time to the action 1,000 feet below them. The unique, alternative view will be available on ESPN3 and the ESPN App. The Goodyear Blimp, an honorary member of the College Football Hall of Fame, has provided aerial coverage for more than 2,000 college football games dating back to 1955. For ESPN and Goodyear, Labor Day night will mark the second BlimpCast, following its debut at last season’s College Football Playoff National Championship.
  • ABC’s Saturday Night Football marks the college football regular season debut of three dynamic cameras: ‘Enhanced Line to Gain Pylon Cam’; a ‘Marker Cam’, which has pan, tilt and zoom optics within the systems; and All Cam. Each will be standard technologies used on most ABC Saturday Night Football games this season. More on the technologies can be found here.
  • In addition to BlimpCast, ESPN will activate multiple alternate presentations throughout Kickoff Weekend:
    • SkyCam on ESPN3 and ESPN APP:
      • 11 Oregon vs. No. 16 Auburn
      • Houston at No. 4 Oklahoma
      • 9 Notre Dame vs. Louisville
    • Command Center on ESPN3 and ESPN APP:
      • 11 Oregon vs. No. 16 Auburn
    • ACC Network will have alternative viewing options for the Labor Day Night game between the Fighting Irish and Cardinals, mimicking their approach for Week 0. More info on ACC Network plans here


New Studio Teams Make Their Debut
Kickoff Week will also mark the first week of ESPN’s studio teams, which includes the debut of Mark Sanchez on ABC and Matt Barrie on ESPN. Kevin Connors will make his ESPN2 debut in Week 2.

All Games referenced are Saturday, August 31, unless noted

College Football Slate for ESPN’s Networks

WEEK 0  

Date Time (ET) Matchup Network
Sat, Aug 24 3 p.m. 2019 Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff: Samford vs. Youngstown State
Roy Philpott, Kelly Stouffer, Lauren Sisler
  7 p.m. 2019 Camping World Kickoff: Miami vs. No. 8 Florida from Orlando
Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Maria Taylor


Kickoff Week

Date Time (ET) Matchup Network
Thu, Aug. 29 7 p.m. UCLA at Cincinnati
Adam Amin, Matt Hasselbeck, Pat McAfee, Molly McGrath
  Robert Morris at Buffalo ESPN+
  Morgan State at Bowling Green ESPN3
  Albany at Central Michigan ESPN3
  Wagner at UConn ESPN3
  7:30 p.m. Gardner-Webb at Charlotte ESPN+
  Central Arkansas at Western Kentucky ESPN+
  8 p.m. Georgia Tech at No. 1 Clemson
Dave O’Brien, Tim Hasselbeck, Katie George
ACC Network
  Alabama State at UAB ESPN+
  Florida International at Tulane ESPN3
  8:30 p.m. Texas State at. No. 12 Texas A&M
Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers, Cole Cubelic
SEC Network
  10:15 p.m. No. 14 Utah at BYU
Anish Shroff, Ahmad Brooks, Kris Budden
Fri, Aug. 30 7 p.m. No. 19 Wisconsin at South Florida
Dave Flemming, Louis Riddick, Paul Carcaterra
  8 p.m. Utah State at Wake Forest
Kevin Brown, Andre Ware, Dr. Jerry Punch
ACC Network
  10 p.m. Colorado State vs. Colorado from Denver
Roy Philpott, Kelly Stouffer Lauren Sisler
Sat, Aug. 31 Noon Ole Miss at Memphis
Mark Jones, Dusty Dvoracek, Olivia Dekker
  South Alabama at Nebraska
Beth Mowins, Anthony Becht, Rocky Boiman
  Mississippi State vs. Louisiana from New Orleans
Mike Corey, Rene Ingoglia
  East Carolina at NC State
Wes Durham, Roddy Jones, Eric Wood
ACC Network
  Toledo at Kentucky
Taylor Zarzour, Matt Stinchcomb, Alyssa Lang
SEC Network
  2 p.m. Rhode Island at Ohio ESPN+
  3 p.m. Bucknell at Temple ESPN3
  3:30 p.m. 2019 Chick-fil-A Kickoff: Duke vs. No. 2 Alabama from Atlanta
Steve Levy, Brain Griese, Todd McShay, Molly McGrath
  2019 Belk Kickoff: South Carolina vs. North Carolina from Charlotte
Bob Wischusen, Dan Orlovsky, Allison Williams
  Georgia State at Tennessee
Clay Matvick, Ryan Leaf, Stormy Buonantony
  Colgate at Air Force ESPN3
  East Tennessee State at Appalachian State ESPN+
  Eastern Michigan at Coastal Carolina ESPN+
  4 p.m. Virginia Tech at Boston College
Chris Cotter, Mark Herzlich, Kelsey Riggs
ACC Network
  Portland State at Arkansas
Dave Neal, DJ Shockley, Dawn Davenport
SEC Network
  6 p.m. Syracuse at Liberty ESPN+
  Campbell at Troy ESPN+
  Incarnate Word at UTSA ESPN3
  7 p.m. Boise State vs. Florida State from Jacksonville
Dave Pasch, Greg McElroy, Tom Luginbill
  Stephen F. Austin at Baylor ESPN+
  Nicholls at Kansas State ESPN+
  SMU at Arkansas State ESPN+
  Alcorn State at Southern Miss ESPN+
  Illinois State at Northern Illinois ESPN+
  Monmouth at Western Michigan ESPN3
  Norfolk State at Old Dominion ESPN3
  7:30 p.m. No. 11 Oregon vs. No. 16 Auburn from Arlington
Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Maria Taylor
  Georgia Southern at No. 6 LSU
Mike Couzens, Kirk Morrison, Ed Aschoff
  Virginia at Pittsburgh
Adam Amin, Tim Hasselbeck, Katie George
ACC Network
  No. 2 Georgia at Vanderbilt
Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers, Cole Cubelic
SEC Network
  Abilene Christian at North Texas ESPN+
  8 p.m. Louisiana Tech at No. 10 Texas
Lowell Galindo, Ahmad Brooks, and Taylor Davis
Longhorn Network
  Houston Baptist at UTEP ESPN+
  Grambling at Louisiana-Monroe ESPN3
  10:30 p.m. Fresno State at USC
Jason Benetti, Rod Gilmore, Quint Kessenich
Sun, Sept. 1 3 p.m. MEAC/SWAC Challenge: Bethune-Cookman vs. Jackson State from Atlanta

Tiffany Greene, Jay Walker, Lericia Harris

  7:30 p.m. Houston at No. 4 Oklahoma
Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe
Mon, Sept. 2 8 p.m. No. 9 Notre Dame at Louisville

Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Maria Taylor


Not all digital games are exclusive


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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