ESPN College GameDay visited Fargo in 2013, the first of four FCS GameDay visits over the next three years. Since 2016: One total FCS GameDay.
In passing on a trip to North Dakota State or James Madison (and every other FCS program) last season, ESPN has now passed on FCS games in two of the last three seasons for the first time since a four-year drought from 2009-12.
If College GameDay returns to the FCS in 2018, which games are the most likely options? We ranked the top 10.
10. Alabama A&M at Alabama State
Week 9 – Birmingham, Ala.
Week 9 is ripe for an FCS GameDay if Auburn and LSU stumble early, USC is irrelevant by late October and a couple of other games don't live up to their preseason billing (e.g., Wisconsin at Ohio State). Because that's a lot of variables, the 83rd Magic City Classic isn't a strong possibility, though it's a great, unique option.
Week 8 – Fargo, N.D.
Unless Michigan and Notre Dame struggle early, GameDay will be in Ann Arbor for the Irish's first visit in six years.
That blockbuster game means a Week 8 trip to Fargo is highly unlikely, though still possible because the other options (e.g., Boise State at BYU, West Virginia at Oklahoma) aren't sexy.
FCS Road Trip: 26 Games, 19,000 Miles
7. (tie) James Madison at Elon
Week 5 – Elon, N.C.
Nebraska must be the heavy favorite to host GameDay in Week 5 for the first time since 2007.
However, if the Huskers stumble early against an inferior team (e.g., Colorado, Illinois), their home game vs. Ohio State loses a little juice. If so, might ESPN visit the state of North Carolina for the first time since 2004?
Week 5 – Davis, Calif.
Also a Week 5 game facing the Ohio State-Nebraska matchup, Montana-UC Davis would be a terrific option for a west-coast FCS GameDay for the first time ever.
Week 3 – Jacksonville, Ala.
The FBS options aren't great in Week 3 — Stanford at UCF, Oklahoma at UCLA, and Pittsburgh at Penn State — GameDay has made early-season trips to FCS games, and this is a can't-miss game at a rocking JSU Stadium.
However, and with all due respect Gamecock fans), FCS GameDay in Week 3 would be a more likely option if North Dakota State was at home this week.
5. Richmond at James Madison
Week 12 – Harrisonburg, Va.
As of now, Week 12 is the best chance for an FCS GameDay. Unfortunately for James Madison, their home game vs. Richmond isn't the most likely option.
The Dukes hosted the last two FCS GameDays, which keeps this game (and every other JMU game, including Towson-JMU in Week 9 and Villanova-JMU in Week 7) farther down the list.
Week 9 – Brookings, S.D.
If this game was in Fargo, it'd be No. 2 on the list. To be fair though, Brookings and Dykehouse Stadium will be on fire for the Week 9 rivalry game that could decide the MVFC title. Is that enough for ESPN?
3. Eastern Washington at Montana
Week 9 – Missoula, Mont.
Amazingly, GameDay has never visited one of the most special atmospheres in American sports.
Montana is no longer reeling off 10-win seasons (and hasn't made the playoffs since 2015) but remains a brand name and could host a hell of a College GameDay in Week 9 if ESPN passes on Auburn at LSU, Virginia Tech at Notre Dame, Wisconsin at Ohio State.
Week 12 – New York, N.Y.
Princeton and Dartmouth are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first-ever college football game with a Week 12 game at Yankee Stadium. While I don't understand the venue (the first game was played in New Jersey, not the Bronx), it's still a headline-grabbing novelty game with minimal FBS competition.
Week 12 – Fargo, N.D.
This was my Week 12 GameDay prediction way back in December. I don't see any reason why it should change.
The best FBS options are pedestrian — Texas at Baylor, TCU at Oklahoma, and UCLA at USC, among others — and would pale in comparison to downtown Fargo in November.