The CW’s foray into college football is well-known but has hardly made a splash for viewers. Positioned at the bottom in the feeding order of ACC broadcast partners, The CW has had games between conference bottom-feeders and even an FCS vs. FBS game.
This week appears to be no different as The CW received the Marshall-NC State game as their game for the week. However, this may work in The CW’s favor in the end.
Below are the matchups and ratings for the four games that The CW has aired (courtesy of Sportsmediawatch.com)
- 9/9: Cincinnati @ Pitt (6:30 PM ET): 665K viewers (0.32 rating)
- 9/16: VMI @ NC State (2 PM ET): 205K viewers (0.11 rating)
- 9/23: Georgia Tech @ Wake Forest (6:30 PM ET): 332K viewers (0.20 rating)
- 9/30: Virginia @ Boston College: (2 PM ET): 367K viewers (0.24 rating)
While all of these programs are household names, none has had much impact on the national stage. Each of these games has been either non-conference footnotes or games for positioning within the ACC’s bowl picture at best.
Enter Marshall. Although they are not a Power Conference team, they have the best shot at a New Year’s Six Bowl of any ACC team that The CW has aired. The Thundering Herd are undefeated with a win over Virginia Tech.
Two ACC wins would make their current resume one of the best in the Group of Five. They would join Fresno State as the only two Group of Five teams with two wins over Power Five schools.
Furthermore, Marshall would have one of the more impressive resumes in not just the Group of Five, but college football if they run the table or finish with one loss. The Sun Belt East is stacked with James Madison racing to a 5-0 start and both of the conference’s Peach State schools holding identical 4-1 records.
Beating every team in this trio or going 2-1 in them and their duo of Power Five victories gives them nearly identical resumes to an undefeated or one-loss Fresno State and arguably a better resume than an undefeated Air Force.
The American Athletic Conference has represented the Group of Five in the New Year’s Six every year since 2017. However, this streak is in danger as front runners Memphis and Tulane struck out in their Power Five games, as well as the AAC’s lack of elite teams.
Hence, this NC State game is significant to the New Year’s Day bowl picture. This fact shows how stacked the ACC’s October 7 slate is. The conference boasts four ranked teams, so naturally, the ACC’s other network partners leaped at the opportunity to air these.
However, The CW’s consolation prize is not as bad as having to air a winless Virginia team playing a Boston College team destined for the Pinstripe Bowl at best.
Nearly every Marshall fan unable to make the trip to Raleigh will tune in. Group of Five diehards eager to see the Thundering Herd extend their Power Five win streak to three games will also watch closely.
Finally, Rasheen Ali is arguably the biggest star to grace The CW’s airwaves. Ali ran for 1401 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2021. So far in his comeback year, he averages over 100 yards per game on the ground with nine touchdowns in four games.
Consequently, The CW could post its highest college football viewership and air a program-defining game.
Sure, some may read this with a mindset hyper-focused on the playoff, but with the immense change coming to college football in 2024, this may be the last season where get to see the New Year’s Six bowls be considered a destination rather than a stop along the way. For this reason, Marshall-NC State is nationally relevant and The CW won out by receiving the opportunity to broadcast this showdown.