Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon likes the idea of having a night game at Michigan Stadium every year. (John T. Greilick / Detroit News)
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon has said for a while now he wants to host at least one night game a year at Michigan Stadium. He reiterated that sentiment following a function in Detroit earlier in the week.
There have been two night games at Michigan Stadium, both against Notre Dame (in 2011 and 2013), and they were enormously successful and well-received.
Brandon said which game will be selected to be played in prime time next season has not yet been determined, because there are so many factors to consider.
“That’s not just a decision we get to make in a vacuum,” Brandon said. “That depends on network schedules, and networks aren’t quite focused on game times for next fall.”
Michigan’s 2014 home schedule isn’t exactly brimming with head-turning opponents.
There’s the “rematch” with Appalachian State to open the season on Aug. 30, and the other home games are Miami (Ohio), Utah, Minnesota, Penn State, Indiana and Maryland. Eliminate the last two, because those games will be played in November, and Michigan won’t host a night game when the weather is turning colder.
Last May during a conversation with Brandon, I told him my hunch is Penn State on Oct. 11 would be the night game.
"That's a good hunch," he said at the time. "I would expect that Penn State game would be a terrific game in early October to have as a night game against a Big Ten opponent."
Michigan hasn’t played Penn State at Michigan Stadium since 2009. They most recently played at Penn State in 2010 and 2013, and both games were given “big-game” feel by the Nittany Lions. The 2010 game was in prime time, and last year’s kickoff was 5 p.m. Both were “whiteouts,” which is an amazing experience at that stadium.
The only thing certain right now is Michigan will host a night game in the fall. If network input is as important as suggested, which game would draw more interest: Michigan-Utah, Michigan-Minnesota, or Michigan-Penn State?
I’m going with the last one.