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Say Goodbye to the Mouse, Ohio State-Michigan Headed to FOX
By Tony Gerdeman

Ohio State's biggest rivalry game will air on FOX this season, as will their game against Michigan.

Okay, that was a cheap shot, but it couldn't be avoided.

During Monday's FOX upfronts (where the network previews its fall lineup), they announced some of the college football games on their schedule this year, including Penn State at Ohio State on October 28. The bigger news, however, was that the November 25 battle in Ann Arbor between the Buckeyes and the Wolverines would be airing for the first time ever on FOX.

How is that possible? Well, a year ago FOX outbid ESPN for the Tier 1 rights to Big Ten football. Among other things, it means that FOX gets first pick every year as to what Big Ten regular season game they want. The ESPN and Disney family of networks get the second pick, then FOX gets the third and they alternate picks until they have their 25 slots filled.

Since that deal was made last year, it was always assumed that Ohio State and Michigan would end up on FOX, but it wasn't confirmed until the network released their fall schedule Monday.

The question that I have, however, is which Big Ten game was the second pick of the "draft"?

I don't have the answer, but I can make the argument that Ohio State games were the first three picks, with Oklahoma at OSU being No. 2 and Penn State at OSU being No. 3.

Here's a screen grab from WTOL-11's Jordan Strack with some of the marquee games on FOX this season.

The game you don't see is the September 9 matchup between the Sooners and the Buckeyes, which I am presuming was the No. 2 pick and will air on ESPN or ABC. Penn State at Ohio State could very well determine the Big Ten East champion, which makes it quite the value pick at No. 3 for FOX.

Now before you start thinking that maybe the Michigan-Florida season opener was in the mix, that game is either going to be on CBS or ESPN/ABC, so it wasn't even on FOX's draft board. And no, it wasn't because of a diluted sample.

You know, looking at it now, I wouldn't be surprised at all if the No. 4 pick was Ohio State at Nebraska on October 14. That would be a perfect setting for a night game between two storied powers -- and a possible Big Ten Championship Game preview. The No. 5 pick would appear to be Notre Dame at Michigan State on September 23, as that is the third of three B1G games on the screen during their presentation. That is assuming that Ohio State at Iowa wasn't the No. 5 pick and FOX just didn't want to have three OSU games listed.

There might be a lot of assumptions on my part here, but I don't think any of it is outrageous. The Buckeyes are obviously a national brand and a regional tractor beam for eyeballs. It would make sense that the networks want Ohio State's marquee games before they move on to the rest of the inventory.

Adding to the fun is the possibility that FOX's Gus Johnson could be calling the Michigan game this year, and maybe he'll be joined by FOX analyst Chris Spielman. It's too early to say, but what we do know is that for the first time in a very long time, you're not going to find the game on ABC or ESPN or ESPN2.

Rest easy, though, because you will still likely find it kicking off at 12:00 pm.

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