College football: New Big Ten schools will appear on Fox’s Friday night package

Published 1:26 am Thursday, May 23, 2024

By JOE REEDY AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES  — Each of the Big Ten Conference’s new West Coast schools will make at least one appearance this coming season on Fox Sports’ “College Football Friday” package.

The 12-game schedule includes nine Big Ten matchups. Oregon, Southern California, UCLA and Washington will have at least one Friday night home game. The Bruins, Ducks and Huskies, along with Rutgers, Michigan State and Purdue, will make two appearances.

Washington — which got to the College Football Playoff title game before losing to Michigan — visits Rutgers on Sept. 27 in its first conference road game and hosts UCLA on Nov. 15.

The Bruins are the only team playing on back-to-back Fridays. They host Iowa on Nov. 8 before their trip to Seattle to face the Huskies.

Oregon hosts Michigan State on Oct. 4 before going to Purdue two weeks later.

USC will host Rutgers on Oct. 25 at 11 p.m. Eastern/8 p.m. Pacific. The kickoff is late because Fox has Game 1 of the World Series.

With the exception of the USC game, the other Big Ten games on the West Coast will start at 9 p.m. Eastern.

Five Big Ten schools — Indiana, Penn State, Ohio State, Minnesota and Wisconsin — are not scheduled for Friday night. Ohio State and Michigan have been among the most vehemently opposed to Friday games since the conference started holding them in 2017, with a limited slate on Big Ten Network and FS1.

“It did take us some time and a lot of collaboration between us, the conference office and all the athletic directors to finally get to where we are,” said Mike Mulvihill, Fox president for insights and analytics. “I think our expansion partners, especially Oregon and Washington, understand that Friday night represents an opportunity for them to be in a window and have a chance to have a prime-time game without that much direct college football competition.”

The other Big 10 matchups are Illinois at Nebraska on Sept. 20, Northwestern at Maryland on Oct. 11 and Purdue at Michigan State on Nov. 22. All three start at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Though the package is predominantly Big Ten, it will kick off with a Big 12 matchup on Sept. 13 when Arizona travels to Kansas State. Except it won’t count as a conference game even though this will be Arizona’s first year in the Big 12 because a home-and-home series between the two schools already was scheduled before the latest wave of conference realignment.

Fox also will carry Utah at UCF on Nov. 29 and the Mountain West championship game on Dec. 6.

The only Friday that Fox does not have a game scheduled is Nov. 1 because of the possibility of a World Series Game 6.

The college football package will fill a void for Fox on Friday nights during the fall when WWE’s “Friday Night SmackDown” moves to USA Network. The final “SmackDown” on Fox airs on Sept. 6.

It will not be the first time Fox has tried to stake a claim to what is considered an underutilized time slot. It launched “Big Noon Saturday” in 2019. Last season’s package averaged 6.74 million viewers on Fox, an 8% increase over 2022.

Networks are expected to announce their complete schedules for the first three weeks of the college football season next week. Fox already announced that “Big Noon Saturday” will open the season with Texas at Michigan on Sept. 6, followed by Wisconsin at Alabama one week later.