Scott Dochterman/Land of 10
Iowa will play all four of its September 2018 games at Kinnick Stadiium.

Which Iowa home game would ESPN’s College GameDay consider worthy in 2018?

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What game could entice ESPN’s College GameDay to Iowa City?

ANSWER: It’s way early to start talking about the 2018 football season. There’s like 240 days until it kicks off again and the 2017 season isn’t quite over, although it is in Big Ten country. Still, college football gets the juices flowing year-round and there’s anticipation that makes the actual experience seem small (see Christmas morning).

As for Iowa football, Christmas morning is when fans wake up early on a Saturday and see ESPN’s College GameDay set in Hubbard Park or another venue in Iowa City. The national title game next week will mark College GameDay’s 200th consecutive location not including Iowa City. The last time College GameDay came to Iowa was Sept. 30, 2006 when top-ranked Ohio State beat unbeaten Iowa 38-17.

Much has changed in Iowa City since College GameDay’s last visit, and certainly The Kinnick Wave has garnered plenty of wonderful attention. But ESPN needs a nationally-relevant game to at least match the backdrop. Of Iowa’s home games next year, only one really fits the possibility: Wisconsin on Sept. 22. It’s a century-old rivalry between two border states. The Badgers should be ranked in the top 5 next year, and Iowa could be ranked in the top 20 — as long as it beats another rival, Iowa State.

So what’s the competition for Iowa-Wisconsin? Here are a few games to consider: Nebraska at Michigan; TCU at Texas; Stanford at Oregon; Arkansas at Auburn; Florida at Tennessee; Texas A&M at Alabama.

It will be awfully difficult for Iowa-Wisconsin to get past the big two SEC games. Florida and Tennessee both have new coaches with Dan Mullen and Jeremy Pruitt, respectively. For Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher, it’s his first SEC game after leaving Florida State, and it’s at Alabama.

Unfortunately for Iowa, there’s no other opponent or game on the schedule that could command a national platform such as Wisconsin. Perhaps Nov. 10 against Northwestern, but that day also includes Auburn-Georgia, Florida State-Notre Dame, Ohio State-Michigan State and, well, let’s shut that one down. Maybe Iowa State on Sept. 8? UCLA and new coach Chip Kelly travels to Oklahoma and Clemson plays at Texas A&M.

If ESPN doesn’t consider Iowa-Wisconsin for 2018, then it’s probably on to 2019 and beyond for College GameDay and Iowa City.

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