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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Fox Reveals Its Friday Night CFB Slate With a Few Notable Teams Absent

  • The network released its schedule of prime-time Friday night football games this fall.
  • Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State are not slated for any of the game windows.
Mark Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this year, Fox Sports announced an expansion of its college football coverage that would include games in prime time on Friday nights, featuring schools from the Big Ten, Big 12, and Mountain West. Now, we know the full 12-game slate for this fall, and there are some notable omissions as the network’s strategy around the new broadcast window is coming into focus.

Fox is clearly saving its biggest TV draws for its Big Noon Saturday slot, as no Friday night games will feature defending national champions Michigan, fellow Big Ten bluebloods Ohio State and Penn State, or Colorado, which is entering its second season under head coach Deion Sanders and first as a member of the Big 12.

On the outset, some of the most intriguing Friday night matchups for Fox include Michigan State at Oregon on Oct. 4, and UCLA at Washington on Nov. 15. Those four schools will also be featured twice each on the Friday night slate. 

USC is on the docket only once, and it’s perhaps the most head-scratching matchup on Fox’s schedule. Rutgers will visit the Trojans on Oct. 25, with the game’s kickoff set at 8 p.m. PT. That’s an 11 p.m. ET start time for Scarlet Knights fans back on the East Coast. And that’s the new reality for the expanded, coast-to-coast Big Ten Conference.

Last year, games in Fox’s Big Noon Saturday slot averaged 6.74 million viewers, making it the most-watched college football TV window of the season. It looks like Fox is hoping to keep that going this fall, and its venture into Friday nights will have to settle for the best of the rest each week.

Countdown to Kickoff

Fox will release its full early-season college football schedule next week, but some details already emerged. 

The network participates in a preseason draft with the Big Ten’s other broadcast partners, CBS and NBC. Michael Mulvihill, Fox’s president of insight and analytics, said on The Joel Klatt Show that Fox had selected the annual Michigan–Ohio State game, as well as a Michigan-Texas matchup Sept. 7 with its first two picks.

However, it traded its third pick with another network, which he couldn’t reveal. “We ended up with five of the top seven picks in the draft,” he said.

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