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National stage: Gophers continue to be GameDay and prime-time players

2019 NFL Draft
The empty set for ESPN College Gameday is seen at the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)

Gophers football fans wondered for years whether ESPN’s “College GameDay” show would ever visit the University of Minnesota campus. These days, the question is when won’t the Gophers be featured?

The Gophers, who will open their pandemic-delayed season at 6:30 Saturday night against Michigan on ABC, will be visited by the GameDay folks for their second consecutive home game.

The pregame show, which visited the University of Minnesota campus for the first time last season when the Gophers closed their regular-season schedule on Nov. 30 against Wisconsin, will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday. There’s a big difference this time. Last year, the GameDay crew set up on Northrop Mall with host Rece Davis and Co., surrounded by fans who arrived early to display their signs and show their enthusiasm despite the cold.

But because of the coronavirus pandemic, fans will not be permitted to attend this year’s show and the program will originate from inside TCF Bank Stadium. The public will not be able to see the set location.

According to a release from the university, this is believed to be only the fifth time that GameDay is visiting a school for consecutive home games. Previous locations were Virginia Tech (vs. Syracuse and Miami in 1999), Ohio State (vs. Michigan in 2002 and Washington in 2003), USC (vs. UCLA in 2005 and Nebraska in 2006) and Ohio State (vs. Michigan in 2016 and Oklahoma in 2017).

The Gophers are ranked 24th in the most recent Associated Press poll and Michigan is 19th. Saturday’s game will air on ABC with Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Maria Taylor reportedly on the call.