The Mountain West on CBS Is a Huge Win for the Conference

Yesterday, CBS announced it was broadcasting Saturday’s Nevada-San Diego State game in its traditional 3:30 ET slot. This is the second Group of Five game they have broadcasted this year, with the first being App State-Marshall. The inconveniences caused by COVID-19 continue to benefit the Group of Five on TV.

Early in the season, before the Big Ten and Pac-12 decided to start their seasons, there were a couple of noteworthy Group of Five games on network TV. Both occurred on September 19th, with Tulane gaining it’s first ABC appearance since 1980 at noon, and Marshall and App State appearing on CBS at 3:30 for the first time for App State and the first time since 1993.

Opportunities like that have been few since the Big Ten and Pac-12 started, but COVID-19 cancellations have forced the networks to shuffle their TV slots. As of this writing, eight games have been cancelled or postponed, following 16 last week. As COVID-19 marches on, teams like Nevada and San Diego State benefit from some rare exposure.

Past Network Appearances

Going back to 2005, as that is the earliest year the of college football TV data that the gold mine of Mattsarzsports.com has, Nevada has appeared on ABC, FOX, CBS, and NBC six times. Below are the appearances and networks:

10/1/2005: @ San Jose State (ABC regional), W, 30-23

10/21/2006: vs. San Jose State (ABC regional), W, 23-7

9/1/2007: @ Nebraska (ABC regional), L, 52-10

9/5/2009: @ Notre Dame (NBC), L, 35-0

12/1/2012: vs. Boise State, (ABC Split National Coverage with UConn-Cincy), L, 27-21

9/10/2016: @ Notre Dame (NBC), L, 39-10

In the same time frame, San Diego State has appeared five times on network TV, with the appearances listed below:

9/17/2005: @ Ohio State (ABC regional), L, 27-6

10/15/2005: @ Utah (ABC regional), W, 28-19

9/6/2008: @ Notre Dame (NBC), L, 21-13

9/7/2013: @ Ohio State (ABC Split National with Oregon-Virginia), L, 42-7.

2016 Las Vegas Bowl vs. Houston (ABC), W, 34-10.

With the help of San Diego State’s football news release archives, I found three more appearances from 2000-2001:

10/7/2000: @ Wyoming (ABC regional), W, 34-0

9/22/2001: @ Colorado State (ABC regional), W, 14-7

10/13/2001: @ UNLV (ABC regional), L, 31-3

As seen above, most of Nevada and San Diego State’s network TV appearances were either as cannon fodder for Power Five teams or were buried in a heavy regional slate. Saturday’s appearance on CBS gives both schools an opportunity not just for exposure but a signature win. This should be an upward trend for the Mountain West as a whole, as their new TV deal with CBS guarantees two games per year on the flagship network.

This weekend’s game in a wide-open Mountain West West division could be the start of a new era of national prominence and credit for the Mountain West. The pressure is on both teams, not only for positioning in their division race, but to maintain the reputation of their conference.

*Huge thanks to Mattsarzsports.com for the valuable TV broadcast info. Any college sports fan should definitely check his site out.*

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