Memphis to host College GameDay for first-time ever

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Memphis players T.J. Carter (2), Cameron Fleming, center, and Kendell Johnson, right, celebrate at the end of the game after defeating Tulsa 42-41 in an NCAA college football game in Tulsa, Okla., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — This weekend a national audience will get a taste of what Memphis is all about.

ESPN College GameDay is coming to the Bluff City in what will be a historic day for the city and Tigers football program.  The show announced Monday that it will be in Memphis for the Tigers’ game vs. SMU this Saturday.

It’s the first time ESPN’s premier, No. 1-rated college football program has been to the Bluff City. The show is famous for Lee Corso’s picks and fan-made signs.

The Tigers are ranked No. 24, while SMU is No. 15. SMU is undefeated with an 8-0 record this season. The Tigers have a record of 7-1.

This game will have large implications on the West Division standings.

“I think that the country, when it hears about Memphis Tiger football, it thinks about success,” Tigers coach Mike Norvell said. “It thinks about an explosive football team with great players and, to have the opportunity to be in this light, to be in this game, it’s something we’re definitely proud of.”

The show will be on Beale Street, not outside the Liberty Bowl, with the main stage at Beale Street and B.B. King Boulevard.

U of M Athletic Director Laird Veatch said the university is coordinating with Beale Street businesses and bars to open early and get the party started. There should also be transportation between Beale and the Liberty Bowl. Those details will be announced later.

Veatch said ESPN made the call to host the show on Beale rather than Tiger Lane. He said there will be around 4,000 parking spots available starting at 5 am.

With an audience in the millions, it’s a showcase for the entire city, so it seems like every branch of the university and the city are working together to get this party right.

College GameDay airs 8-11 a.m. Saturday. The kickoff at the Liberty Bowl is set for 6:30.

Memphis is running a $9.01 flash sale on tickets to the Nov. 2 SMU game through Wednesday at 11:59 p.m., the university said in a release. To purchase tickets during the flash sale, fans must log on to http://www.GoTigersGoTix.com and enter promo code GAMEDAY. There is a limit of eight tickets that can be purchased at this special 901 flash sale price.

The Memphis box office sold more than 1,000 tickets within an hour after the GameDay announcement became official.

The excitement was building among students Monday.

“I got a lot of merchandise coming,” U of M student Laron Weaver said. “I got Memphis hats. I got a lot of blue stuff coming. I can’t wait to see people put on the face paint and I’ll be there in the student section.”

“It’s just more pump for the boys and for us to win and show the College GameDay fans how much we’ve grown over the past few years,” said freshman Jada Cox.

Larry Crum has witnessed the program’s growth in his four years at the university, making this weekend’s historic GameDay appearance and primetime showing even sweeter.

“Just seeing how the football program has continuously taken off year after years, it’s just been awesome,” he said. “I’m glad that Coach Norvell is staying and I hope he continues to stay.”

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