ABC Sports, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU's 2005 college football schedule will include more than 300 live regular and postseason games in approximately 260 telecast windows, a record for the companies. Last year, ABC Sports, ESPN and ESPN2 combined to present 216 games in 175 windows.
All to-be-determined games will be selected generally 12 or six days prior to the date. The schedule may be expanded as the season progresses. Highlights include:
• Through national and split-national broadcasts, ABC Sports will broadcast approximately 72 regular season contests in 31 windows plus five bowl games, highlighted by the Bowl Championship Series featuring the national championship game -- the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Citi.
• ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will combine to televise approximately 185 regular season and 38 postseason games, including 20 bowl games.
• ESPNU, the 24-hour college sports network, will offer an extensive schedule of nearly 75 games in its debut year, including the first nationally televised contest of the 2005 season -- Benedict vs. Morehouse, Thu., Aug. 25 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Each week during the season, ESPNU will televise approximately five live games highlighted by match-ups from a variety of Division I-A conferences (including the ACC, BIG EAST, Big Ten, MAC, Sun Belt and WAC), plus contests involving Division I-AA and II programs.
• ESPN360, ESPN's broadband service, will offer coverage of at least 15 regular season college football games (match-ups, dates and times will be determined and released in a few weeks).
• The networks' schedule will include coverage of every Division I-A conference -- ACC, BIG EAST, Big Ten, Big 12, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Pac-10, SEC, Sun Belt and WAC -- plus Division I-A independents Notre Dame, Army and Temple, as well as games involving Division I-AA conferences Big Sky, MEAC, Ohio Valley and SWAC and Division II Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
• Every defending Division I-A conference champion will be televised: Virginia Tech (ACC), Pittsburgh (BIG EAST), Michigan (Big Ten), Louisville (Conference USA), Toledo (MAC), Utah (Mountain West), USC (Pac-10), Auburn (SEC), North Texas (Sun Belt) and Boise State (WAC).
• A weekly Thursday and Saturday ESPNU telecast will supplement the return of regular Thursday and Saturday time slots on ESPN and ESPN2. In addition, ESPN and ESPN2 will offer a regular Friday telecast at a consistent 8 p.m. start time and games on select Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the season.
• ABC Sports and ESPN will televise four conference championship games as part of Championship Weekend December 1-3. ESPN will televise the MAC title game Thu., Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m. and the inaugural Conference USA championship Sat., Dec. 3 (time TBD). ABC Sports will televise the Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship at 1 p.m. and the inaugural Dr Pepper ACC Championship at 8 p.m.
• Combined with the networks' National Football League coverage (ABC Sports' Monday Night Football and ESPN's Sunday Night Football), ABC Sports, ESPN and ESPN2 will offer fans at least one live football game on 20 consecutive days (September 12 - October 10) and 33 straight days (October 27 - November 28).
Labor Day Weekend: 31 games in five days
ABC Sports, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU's Labor Day weekend coverage will feature 31 games in 27 telecast windows (Thu., Sept. 1 to Mon., Sept. 5).
• ABC Sports' schedule will include split-national coverage of Texas A&M at Clemson and Notre Dame at Pittsburgh, marking the debut of head coaches Charlie Weis (Notre Dame) and Dave Wannstedt (Pittsburgh) (Sept. 3 at 8 p.m.) and national broadcasts of West Virginia at Syracuse (Sept. 4 at 1:30 p.m.) and Miami at Florida State (Sept. 5 at 8 p.m.).
• ESPN and ESPN2's Labor Day weekend action, Back On Campus Presented by State Farm, will include Steve Spurrier's first game as head coach of South Carolina when the Gamecocks host Central Florida (Sept. 1 on ESPN at 7:30 p.m.); Boise State at Georgia (Sept. 3 on ESPN at 5:30 p.m.); season-opener of two-time defending national champion USC at Hawaii, with new defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville, who returns to coaching after an 11-year absence (Sept. 3 on ESPN2 at 7 p.m.); Georgia Tech, led by junior quarterback Reggie Ball, at Auburn, entering the season with a 15-game winning streak (Sept. 3 on ESPN at 8:45 p.m. ET); and Virginia Tech at N.C. State (Sept. 4 on ESPN2 at 7:15 p.m.).
• ESPNU's coverage will include Vanderbilt at Wake Forest (Sept. 1 at 7 p.m.), South Florida at Penn State (Sept. 3 at 3:30 p.m.) and UTEP at New Mexico State (Sept. 3 at 10:30 p.m.).
College Football Saturdays
ABC Sports, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will televise top college football match-ups every Saturday throughout the season, combining to televise at least 10 games to a national audience on most Saturdays. To-be-determined Saturday games will be selected 12 or six days in advance. Highlights:
• ESPNU will televise four games on most Saturdays throughout the season, (generally at noon ET, 3:30 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. ET and 10:30 p.m. ET).
• ABC Sports will open the season with two consecutive Saturdays of prime-time coverage: the above mentioned split-national coverage of Notre Dame at Pittsburgh and Texas A&M at Clemson September 3 and a national telecast of Texas at Ohio State September 10. Both windows will feature 8 p.m. kickoffs.
• ABC Sports, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will combine to televise 15 games in 13 windows September 10, including Notre Dame at Michigan on ABC Sports at noon and an ESPN doubleheader pitting South Carolina at Georgia at 5:30 p.m. followed Arizona State at LSU at 8:45 p.m.
• ESPN and ESPN2 will once again each offer prime-time games featuring top programs every Saturday throughout the season, generally at 7 p.m. (ESPN2) and 7:45 p.m. (ESPN). Michigan at Wisconsin (September 24), Notre Dame at Purdue (October 1), Ohio State at Penn State (October 8) and Michigan at Northwestern (October 29) have been selected (network assignments will be determined as season progresses).
Thursday Night Football
ESPN and ESPNU will offer Thursday night games throughout the season. Highlights of ESPN College Football Thursday: Central Florida at South Carolina (September 1), N.C. State at Georgia Tech (October 6), Virginia Tech at Maryland (October 20), Boston College at Virginia Tech (October 27), Pittsburgh at Louisville (November 3), Boise State at Fresno State (November 10), Pittsburgh at West Virginia (November 24) and the MAC Championship (December 1).
ESPNU's weekly Thursday night game will feature match-ups from the MEAC and SWAC -- two prominent HBCU (Historically Black College/University) leagues -- including Hampton at North Carolina A&T (September 15), South Carolina State at Norfolk State (October 6), Southern at Texas Southern (November 3), Morgan State at South Carolina State (November 10) and the Turkey Day Classic pitting Tuskegee at Alabama State (November 24).
College Football in HD
ABC Sports, ESPN and ESPN2 will provide high definition telecasts of many college football games throughout the season. Every ESPN Saturday and Thursday prime-time telecast -- ESPN College Football Saturday (for the third consecutive year) and ESPN College Football Thursday (for the second straight year), respectively, will be offered in high definition on ESPN HD. For the first time, every ESPN2 College Football Saturday game will be offered in high definition on ESPN2 HD. ABC Sports will televise Miami at Florida State (Sept. 5 at 8 p.m. ET), two other regular-season games and all five bowl games in high definition.
Networks Combine for 25 Bowl Games
ABC Sports, ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to televise 25 bowl games December 20 through January 4.
• ABC Sports' five bowl games will include the four-game Bowl Championship Series, highlighted by the National Championship Rose Bowl Game Presented by Citi, and the Capital One Bowl.
• ESPN and ESPN2's 20 bowl games will be highlighted by Capital One Bowl Week, one of ESPN's most-viewed weeks of the year, with 14 games in eight days, Dec. 26-Jan. 2.
• ESPN will televise all three ESPN Regional Television owned-and-operated bowl games: the Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl Thursday, Dec. 22 at 8 p.m.; the Fort Worth Bowl Friday, Dec. 23 at 8 p.m.; and the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl Saturday, Dec. 24 at 8:30 p.m. ET.