Now, this does not mean for sure that the game will not be an ESPN on ABC broadcast, but if it is, it’s a little strange that the White Out is not on this list.
Over the past few months, rumors have swirled that, throughout all the logistics and politics between TV companies that sent Joe Buck from FOX to ESPN, FOX will end up getting the rights to the Penn State-Ohio State game.
What does that have to do with the time of the game?
The White Out this year falls on October 29th, right around when the World Series (which FOX also has the rights to) would start. With a World Series game being in their primetime slot, the White Out would have to kick off during the day.
There is a chance that, due to the delayed start to the Major League Baseball season, October 29th could fall between the end of the League Championship Series, and the start of the World Series, but that is not a given. Plus, weather could also postpone a potential game six or seven in the League Championship Series, so FOX may not want to risk it.
For FOX, their mantra is ‘Big Noon Kickoff’, which is the name of their pregame show. They try to have their biggest game of the week start at noon to avoid overlap with big games on other networks, to maximize viewership. Although despite the name, their ‘Big Noon Game of the Week’ does not always start at noon. The game at Iowa last year comes to mind as an example of that.
So realistically, the game could be a 3:30 start, even if it is on FOX, but do they want to risk what happened the last time a White Out kicked off at 3:30? The infamous four overtime win over Michigan. If the game runs long, it could cut into the start of the baseball game.
A 3:30 kickoff, while not the same as a primetime matchup, would still be better than a noon kickoff for a few reasons.
First, being in late October when the sun will set at approximately 6:13 PM (according to Sunrise-Sunset.org) some of the second half would still be played under the lights.
The second reason is traffic.
If the game kicks off at noon, most of the fans will be arriving around the same time, causing nightmarish traffic delays, as opposed to everyone arriving at different times throughout the day like they do for a traditional 7:30 kickoff.
Once again, nothing is official at this point, but ESPN – who notably loves the White Out – not including that matchup in their list for some of the major ABC matchups this season, raises some eyebrows.
You can not really argue that the game did not make the list as a result of Penn State Football being down the past couple years, because Florida State and Texas are both on that list, neither of which even made a bowl game last year .
Time will tell, and hopefully none of this matters and the game ends up being a primetime matchup anyway, but at this point, it seems like there is a good chance that this year’s White Out will kickoff at some point during the afternoon.