WSU Cougars get primetime kickoff time on ESPN for Oct. 31 game vs. Stanford

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The most attention ESPN has paid Washington State this season came during the bye week, when word got out that the Cougars’ streak of Ol’ Crimson appearances on ESPN’s College Gameday was in jeopardy after the flag got lost in transit. The Worldwide Leader raced to help the Cougars keep their streak alive by overnighting a replica of Ol’ Crimson to Arizona in time for the show.

But WSU’s recent winning ways have caught ESPN’s attention, and the Cougars’ Halloween weekend game in Pullman against Pac-12 North leader Stanford on Oct. 31 has now been picked up for a 7:30 p.m. broadcast on ESPN.

The Cougars sit at 4-2 overall and in third place in the Pac-12 North, behind Stanford and Cal. They take on Arizona this weekend in Tucson, and while the team might not be thinking about this other nugget, from the fan perspective, there’s more than just win No. 5 on the line.

According to Keri Potts, ESPN’s Senior Director of Public Relations, Washington State is one of eight finalists on ESPN’s shortlist to host College GameDay on Oct. 31.

College GameDay has never been to Pullman. Whether this interest was sparked by the Cougars’ surprising success in the Pac-12 thus far this season, or whether it was first kindled by the “Ol’ Crimson College GameDay streak in jeopardy!” saga in late September, we might never know.

We do know, however that College GameDay producer Lee Fitting hinted on Sept. 25 that it might be time to get the show to Pullman.

WSU coach Mike Leach, however, has some experience with hosting College GameDay from his time at Texas Tech.

“It’s kind of a big deal if they come to your campus, I guess,” Leach said Monday, adding that College GameDay was in Lubbock, Texas when his Red Raiders beat No. 1 Texas.

Texas Tech then beat No. 8 Oklahoma State later that season and ultimately earned a Cotton Bowl berth, finish the season 11-2.

WSU has not beaten Stanford since Nov. 10, 2007, when the Cougars won 33-17 at home. The Cougars need to take care of business against Arizona and then see how next weekend shakes out around college football. College GameDay will finalize its location decision for the Oct. 31 show by this Saturday evening (Oct. 24) or Sunday morning at the latest, Potts said.

Regardless of whether the College GameDay does get to Pullman for Halloween, this might be the most interest the program has gotten from the national standpoint since Leach was hired in 2012.

The Oct. 31 contest vs. Stanford will be WSU’s first night game of the season, and its first ESPN game of the year.

By Monday afternoon, Cougar fans had taken to Twitter to try and convince College GameDay to come to Pullman:

Correction: This post previously quoted Mike Leach saying that College GameDay was in Lubbock, Texas two weeks back-to-back in 2008. He must have misremembered. College GameDay was at Lubbock for Texas Tech’s win over Texas, then College GameDay went to Stillwater, Okla. later that season, when the Red Raiders beat Oklahoma State.