ESPN Kicks Off Industry-Leading College Football Coverage for 2021-22 with Marquee Matchups and Dynamic Commentator Teams in Week 1

College Football

ESPN Kicks Off Industry-Leading College Football Coverage for 2021-22 with Marquee Matchups and Dynamic Commentator Teams in Week 1

  • Fowler, Herbstreit and Rowe debut with top-5 showdown in Duke’s Mayo Classic – No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 3 Clemson – on ABC Saturday Night Football presented by Capital One
  • McDonough, Blackledge, McShay and McGrath return with No.  1 Alabama vs. No. 14 Miami at Chick-fil-A Kickoff in Atlanta
  • Tessitore and McElroy team up with George for No. 9 Notre Dame at Florida State, Sunday Night on ABC
  • Davis, Herbstreit and McGrath set for Labor Day primetime’s Louisville vs. Ole Miss in Atlanta

ESPN will kick off its industry-leading coverage of the 2021-22 college football season in week 1 with nearly 60 games, including the highly-anticipated non-conference matchups in the Duke’s Mayo Classic in Charlotte – No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 3 Clemson – and Chick-fil-A Kickoff in Atlanta – No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 14 Miami. The opening weekend slate features games on six consecutive nights (Sept. 1-6) and culminates with primetime showdowns Sunday on ABC (No. 9 Notre Dame at Florida State) and on the traditional Labor Day Monday on ESPN (Louisville vs. Ole Miss).

In all, four of the top-five teams and nine of the top 10 in the 2021 AP preseason rankings will be in action across ESPN platforms during week 1.

ESPN’s week 1 schedule features teams from all 10 FBS conferences and games are set for a total of 10 ESPN platforms – ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SEC Network, ACC Network, Big 12 Now on ESPN+, ESPN3, ESPN+, SEC Network+ (SECN+) and ESPN Radio.

With the start of the new season, ESPN’s unmatched roster of commentators will feature a mix of familiar faces, new assignments, a host of newcomers and the return of many veteran voices.

Fowler, Herbstreit and Rowe Debut with No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 3 Clemson (Sat, 7:30 p.m. ET | ABC)
Chris FowlerKirk Herbstreit and reporter Holly Rowe will team up to call the weekly ABC Saturday Night Football presented by Capital One marquee matchup, beginning with one of the most-anticipated games of the season – the top-five showdown between Georgia and Clemson in the Duke’s Mayo Classic in Charlotte.

The 2021 season marks Fowler and Herbstreit’s eighth year in the SNF booth and their 26th season as college football teammates, having worked together since 1996 on College GameDay. Fowler and Herbstreit have called every College Football Playoff National Championship. Rowe joins the team following the recent announcement of her move to the SNF crew, as she kicks off her 26th season covering college football for ESPN and ABC.

McDonough, Blackledge, McShay and McGrath Return with No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 14 Miami (Sat, 3:30 p.m. | ABC)
Sean McDonoughTodd Blackledge, field analyst Todd McShay and reporter Molly McGrath will open the season with defending College Football Playoff National Champion and preseason No. 1 Alabama against No. 14 Miami in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff in Atlanta.

McDonough and Blackledge will work together for the third year, joined for a second season by McShay and McGrath, who is back on the sidelines after taking maternity leave at the end of 2020. McDonough – also a leading voice in ESPN’s NHL coverage this fall – and Blackledge combine for more than four decades of broadcast experience, while McShay continues to serve as one of ESPN’s NFL Draft experts and McGrath covers a multitude of college sports across ESPN networks as both a reporter and host.

Tessitore and McElroy Team Up with George in Tallahassee for No. 9 Notre Dame at Florida State (Sun, 7:30 p.m. | ABC)
Joe Tessitore, Greg McElroy and Katie George will open the season in Tallahassee for a Sunday primetime matchup on ABC that is steeped in tradition – No. 9 Notre Dame at Florida State.

This will be the second straight season that longtime ESPN play-by-play voice Tessitore and former Alabama National Champion quarterback McElroy are partnering in the ABC and ESPN booth. For the better part of two decades, Tessitore has been a premier broadcaster for ESPN and ABC’s coverage of college football, as well as the veteran blow-by-blow ringside commentator for Top Rank Boxing on ESPN and the co-host of Holey Moley on ABC. McElroy is beginning his sixth season calling games for ESPN and has studio experience on ESPN and SEC Network as well. This fall, George moves to ABC and ESPN games following her first two seasons on ACC Network Primetime.

Notable ESPN and ABC games on Saturday, Sept. 4:

  • ESPN Events’ Texas Kickoff: Texas Tech vs. Houston (7 p.m., ESPN): ESPN newcomer and Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III joins ESPN mainstays Mark Jones and Quint Kessenich this season. Jones completed his 30th year with ESPN last fall, serving as a college football commentator as well as one of the company’s leading NBA play-by-play voices.
  • Western Michigan vs. Michigan (Noon, ESPN): Bob Wischusen and Dan Orlovsky are back together for a third season, joined in Ann Arbor by Kris Budden. Wischusen, a college football, basketball and NHL voice for ESPN, is also the New York Jets radio voice. In addition to calling college games, Orlovsky continues to appear across a number of ESPN shows, including as a lead analyst on NFL Live. Budden has been a regular on ABC and ESPN coverage since moving over from SEC Network following the 2018 season.
  • No. 2 Oklahoma vs. Tulane (Noon, ABC): Dave Pasch and Dusty Dvoracek will call games together for the first time this fall, beginning with the Sooners-Green Wave matchup. A versatile football and basketball play-by-play voice – who also calls Arizona Cardinals NFL games, Pasch joined ESPN in 2003. A two-time Oklahoma captain and former NFL Draft pick, Dvoracek continues to expand his ESPN role. Veteran field analyst Tom Luginbill, who has been with ESPN for more than 15 years and previously worked with Pasch, will join the duo.
  • ESPN Events’ Vegas Kickoff Classic: BYU vs. Arizona (10:30 p.m., ESPN): Dave Flemming and Rod Gilmore are teaming up on ESPN and ABC this fall, with Flemming continuing his play-by-play commentary for college football, basketball, baseball and MLB, and Gilmore kicking off his 25th season of ESPN college football analysis. The two will be joined by reporter Stormy Buonantony for the first ESPN Events game at the Las Vegas Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium.

Weekday primetime games in Week 1:

  • ESPN Events’ Montgomery Kickoff: UAB vs. Jacksonville State (Wed, 7:30 p.m. on ESPN): Week 1 of the college football season kicks off with a rare Wednesday primetime game on ESPN as UAB faces Jacksonville State in the first of two ESPN Events kickoff games in Montgomery, Ala. Roy Philpott, Kelly Stouffer and reporter Lauren Sisler have the call from the Cramton Bowl.
  • Boise State vs. UCF (Thurs, 7 p.m. on ESPN): ESPN’s new Thursday night team of Matt Barrie, analyst Roddy Jones and reporter Harry Lyles Jr. will debut. Jones will build upon his ACC Network role while Lyles Jr. adds college football sideline reporting to his expanding repertoire after joining as a staff writer last year reporting on both college football and on the intersection of culture and college sports.
  • 10 North Carolina vs. Virginia Tech (Fri, 6 p.m. on ESPN): Jason Benetti, Andre Ware and Paul Carcaterra open their season-long Friday schedule in Blacksburg with a key matchup of ACC Coastal contenders.
  • Michigan State vs. Northwestern (Fri, 9 p.m. on ESPN): Beth Mowins and Kirk Morrison return to the booth for a second season together, joined by Dawn Davenport, who moves from her previous SEC Network assignment.

College Networks:

  • SEC Network returns its SEC Saturday Night trio of Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers and Cole Cubelic, who will call a pair of week 1 games – Bowling Green vs. Tennessee (Thursday, 8 p.m.) and Florida Atlantic vs. No. 13 Florida (Saturday, 7:30 p.m.)
  • ACC Network’s primetime team has a new look with Dave O’Brien, Tim Hasselbeck and Kelsey Riggs, who moves from the afternoons to evenings this fall. The trio will call South Florida vs. N.C. State (Thursday, 7:30 p.m.) and Northern Illinois vs. Georgia Tech (Saturday, 7:30 p.m.).

Other Week 1 Notes:

  • Seventeen games will be streamed live on ESPN+ in week 1, including multiple games from the American Athletic Conference, Big 12 and Sun Belt, among other conferences. Ranked teams in action include No. 7 Iowa State, No. 8 Cincinnati and No. 22 Coastal Carolina. As part of the SEC’s new agreement with ESPN, ESPN+ will also feature SEC games for the first time with Arkansas, Auburn, South Carolina and Vanderbilt each playing a non-conference opponent on the platforms in week 1 (games will also be available on SECN+). In all, ESPN+ will feature more than 150 total FBS games throughout the 2021-22 season.
  • After kicking off week 0 with the Cricket MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff in Atlanta, ESPN will highlight multiple ESPN Events football games in week 1, including the Montgomery Kickoff, Texas Kickoff, Vegas Kickoff Classic and the inaugural Boeing Red Tails Classic, which will showcase Historically Black Colleges and Universities Fort Valley State and Tuskegee.
  • ESPN Radio will kick off its season-long college football schedule with a pair of week 1 games on Sat., Sept 4. The lead team of Sean Kelley, Barrett Jones and reporter Ian Fitzsimmons returns this fall with Georgia vs. Clemson (7 p.m.) in the Duke’s Mayo Classic, while Marc Kestecher, Max Starks and reporter Mike Peasley will call Stanford vs. Kansas State (11:30 a.m.) in the Allstate Kickoff Classic in Arlington, Texas.

For updates to programming schedules and game assignments, please visit

ESPN College Football Schedule for Week 1 (updated on Tuesday, August 31):

Date Time (ET) Game/Talent Network
Wed, Sep 1 7:30 p.m. Montgomery Kickoff: UAB vs. Jacksonville State
(Montgomery, Ala.) *
Roy Philpott, Kelly Stouffer and Lauren Sisler
Thu, Sep 2 7 p.m. Boise State at UCF
Matt Barrie, Roddy Jones and Harry Lyles, Jr.
  Wagner at Buffalo
Doug Sherman and Tyoka Jackson
  Long Island at Florida International ESPN3
  Western Illinois at Ball State
Michael Reghi and Je’Rod Cherry
  The Citadel at No. 22 Coastal Carolina ESPN+
  7:30 p.m. Duke’s Mayo Classic: East Carolina vs. Appalachian State
(Charlotte, N.C.)
Mike Couzens and Dustin Fox
South Florida at N.C. State
Dave O’Brien, Tim Hasselbeck and Kelsey Riggs
  UC Davis at Tulsa
Ted Emrich and Stanford Routt
8 p.m. Bowling Green at Tennessee
Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers and Cole Cubelic
  UT Martin at Western Kentucky ESPN+
Fri, Sep 3 6 p.m. No. 10 North Carolina at Virginia Tech
Jason Benetti, Andre Ware and Paul Carcaterra
  7 p.m. Old Dominion at Wake Forest
Drew Carter, Forrest Conoly and Abby Labar
St. Francis (PA) at Eastern Michigan
Jason Ross and Marcus Ray
  8 p.m. South Dakota at Kansas
Mark Neely and Barrett Brooks
Big 12 Now on ESPN+
9 p.m. Michigan State at Northwestern
Beth Mowins, Kirk Morrison and Dawn Davenport
Sat, Sep 4 Noon No. 2 Oklahoma at Tulane
Dave Pasch, Dusty Dvoracek and Tom Luginbill
Western Michigan at Michigan
Bob Wischusen, Dan Orlovsky and Kris Budden
Army at Georgia State
Clay Matvick, Rocky Boiman and Tiffany Blackmon
  Louisiana-Monroe at Kentucky
Taylor Zarzour, Matt Stinchcomb and Alyssa Lang
Colgate at Boston College
Chris Cotter, Mark Herzlich and Jalyn Johnson
  Allstate Kickoff Classic: Kansas State vs. Stanford
Marc Kestecher, Max Starks, Mike Peasley
ESPN Radio
2 p.m. Rice at Arkansas
Mike Couzens, Dustin Fox and Tera Talmadge
3:30 p.m. Chick-fil-A Kickoff: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 14 Miami
(Atlanta, Ga.)
Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge, Todd McShay and Molly McGrath
West Virginia at Maryland
Anish Shroff, Mike Golic, Jr. and Taylor McGregor
  Miami (Ohio) at No. 8 Cincinnati
Connor Onion and Bobby Carpenter
Northern Iowa at No. 7 Iowa State
Shawn Kenney and Sage Rosenfels
Big 12 Now on ESPN+
4 p.m. Louisiana Tech at Mississippi State
John Schriffen and Rene Ingoglia
  Central Michigan at Missouri
Kevin Brown, Hutson Mason and Lauren Sisler
Massachusetts at Pittsburgh
Wes Durham, Roddy Jones and Lericia Harris
  6 p.m. Gardner-Webb at Georgia Southern ESPN3
  Campbell at Liberty ESPN3
7 p.m. Texas Kickoff: Texas Tech vs. Houston
(Houston, Texas)
Mark Jones, Robert Griffin III and Quint Kessenich
  Monmouth at Middle Tennessee ESPN3
  Central Arkansas at Arkansas State ESPN3
  Southern at Troy ESPN3
  Norfolk State at Toledo
Jim Barbar and Je’Rod Cherry
  Nicholls at Memphis
Richard Cross and Leger Douzable
  Abilene Christian at SMU
Ted Emrich and Stanford Routt
  Missouri State at Oklahoma State
Courtney Lyle, Brandon Weeden and Shane Sparks
Big 12 Now on ESPN+
  Baylor at Texas State ESPN+
Akron at Auburn
Mike Corey, Ben Hartsock and Taylor Davis
Eastern Illinois at South Carolina
Bill Roth, Chris Doering and Alex Chappell
7:30 p.m. Duke’s Mayo Classic: No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 3 Clemson
(Charlotte, N.C.)
TV: Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Holly Rowe
Radio: Sean Kelley, Barrett Jones, Ian Fitzsimmons
Florida Atlantic at No. 13 Florida
Roy Philpott, Jordan Rodgers and Cole Cubelic
Northern Illinois at Georgia Tech
Dave O’Brien, Tim Hasselbeck and Kelsey Riggs
  William & Mary at Virginia ESPN3
  Northwestern State at North Texas ESPN3
8 p.m. Kent State at No. 6 Texas A&M
Dave Neal, Kelly Stouffer and Andraya Carter
  Southern Mississippi at South Alabama ESPN+
East Tennessee State at Vanderbilt
Mike Morgan, Kirk Morrison and Dawn Davenport
  Duquesne at TCU
Chuckie Kempf and Ryan Leaf
Big 12 Now on ESPN+
  9 p.m. Bethune-Cookman at UTEP ESPN3
10:30 p.m. Vegas Kickoff Classic: BYU vs. Arizona
(Las Vegas, Nev.) *
Dave Flemming, Rod Gilmore and Stormy Buonantony
Sun, Sep 5 3 p.m. Denny’s Orange Blossom Classic: Jackson State vs. Florida A&M
(Miami Gardens, Fla.)
Tiffany Greene, Jay Walker and Tiffany Blackmon
7 p.m. Boeing Red Tails Classic: Fort Valley State vs. Tuskegee
(Montgomery, Ala.) *
Mike Couzens and Dustin Fox
7:30 p.m. No. 9 Notre Dame at Florida State
Joe Tessitore, Greg McElroy and Katie George
Mon, Sep 6 8 p.m. Chick-fil-A Kickoff: Louisville vs. Ole Miss
(Atlanta, Ga.)
Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit and Molly McGrath

* ESPN Events football games

Amanda Brooks

Amanda is the Director of Communications for ESPN College Football and SEC Network, and oversees publicity for college gymnastics and track & field across all ESPN networks. Amanda is a proud alum of Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., and earned her master's in ethics from Vanderbilt University. A native of Kent, Ohio, she is a die-hard Cleveland sports fan.
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