If you are a college football fan, ESPN’s “College GameDay” is the show for you. And on Saturday, Oct. 26, it was the show for South Dakota State football fans — just as it was for North Dakota State football fans in 2013 and 2014.
The three-hour “GameDay” that pitched its camp in Brookings, S.D., had a definite Jackrabbit flavor and justifiably so — with numerous aerial shots of the thousands of fans that filled the College Green space in front of SDSU’s iconic Coughlin Campanile tower.
For those who opted to stay home and watch the show on TV, they saw reporter Tom Rinaldi poetically describe the Dakota Marker and SDSU’s move to Division I. They saw North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum plop an oversized Bison hat on his head. They saw SDSU wide receiver Cade Johnson tell us how much he hates NDSU.
They saw SDSU’s 62-year-old head coach John Stiegelmeier arrive among the throng on a scooter before he told Rinaldi that the “GameDay” hype will be no distraction for his No. 3-ranked team taking on the top-ranked Bison.
Well, he was right. His Jacks gave the Bison all they could handle but ended up losing 23-16.
It was NDSU’s 29th straight win. And ESPN’s “GameDay” delivered again on Saturday — just as it has since its first show on the road in 1993 on the Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Ind. This time, it was in Brookings for the first time — marking only the fifth time “GameDay” has visited an FCS campus since 2013. (NDSU in 2013 and 2014 and James Madison in 2015 and 2017.)
Here are some highlights from some of the 11 segments of Saturday’s show:
Rinaldi told viewers that the Dakota Marker, the 75-pound rock that NDSU won for the 10th time in this rivalry, is to claim the frontier, to claim the title, to raise the rock.
“Who would ever imagine that FCS’s best rivalry would happen here,” Rinaldi said.
The “GameDay” crew of Rece Davis, Desmond Howard, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit proclaimed their Mount Rushmore of college football, in tribute to the real Mount Rushmore that sits five hours away from Brookings in the Black Hills: Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson, Jim Brown and Bear Bryant.
A live shot showed former NDSU head coach Chris Klieman roaming the Kansas State sidelines, hours before his Wildcats upset No. 5 Oklahoma. “Oklahoma better be ready,” warned Herbstreit. “This game will be closer than many people think.”
“GameDay” displayed a taped segment with former Bison quarterback Carson Wentz and former Jackrabbit tight end Dallas Goedert — now NFL teammates with the Philadelphia Eagles.
“Being at North Dakota State for five years, we were undefeated every time we played South Dakota State,” Wentz said, flashing a smile at Goedert.
Rinaldi returned with his piece on SDSU’s move to Division I, opening with: “We call it the frontier, empty, vast, blank. But if you think there is not much out here, you don’t know Jack.”
Jackrabbit wide receiver Cade Johnson, from Papillon, Neb., told Rinaldi: “I hate NDSU. I’ve never been a fan of them. They overlooked me. They didn’t give me the time of day.”
Remember the fan at last spring’s College World Series who went viral on social media when he caught a baseball with his left hand while not spilling a drop of his beer in his right hand, then chugged that beer? Well, his name is Austin Buysee, who happens to be the facility and events manager at SDSU.
Davis threw a baseball to him Saturday. Buysee didn’t disappoint, catching it with his left hand while holding a beverage (contents unknown) with his right hand.
“GameDay” reporter Gene Wojciechowski eloquently reported on Minnesota Gopher backup holder Casey O’Brien, who after undergoing 14 cancer related surgeries, made his college football debut last week in holding two extra-point kicks.
“I don’t think I have hugged a player that long my entire life,” Gopher head coach P.J. Fleck tells Wojciechwoski.
Could the unbeaten Gophers be hosting “Game Day” in two weeks when it hosts unbeaten Penn State? It would be the first time the show traveled to Dinkytown.
As usual, the signs and posters were out in force in Brookings.
“Welcome to South Dakota. We know how to drive covered wagons,” read one sign.
“Call us San Diego State one more time,” read one sign with a photo of actor Samuel Jackson’s hitman character Jules Winnfield from the movie “Pulp Fiction.”
“We are not merging into one Dakota, so quit asking,” read another sign with a photo of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who has been notorious of telling media members to quit asking certain questions.
“The last time Corso was in South Dakota was with Lewis & Clark,” read another sign, referring to the 84-year-old Corso, who is the only original member of the “GameDay” crew since the show debuted in 1987.
But as much love as Corso displayed for the Jackrabbit faithful, he drew plenty of boos when he picked NDSU to beat the Jacks.
Howard picked SDSU. Herbstreit picked NDSU.
“Please excuse my dumb friend Kirk,” hollered guest picker Pat McAfee, who was the holder for Adam Vinatieri for eight seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. “Today at 5 o’clock local time, the Dakota Marker is back in Brookings.”
When it was all said and done in Brookings Saturday, Corso and Herbstreit ended up being right.