FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 20th, 2023
MARIA TAYLOR, MATT CASSEL, JOSHUA PERRY, MICHAEL ROBINSON, AND AHMED FAREED TO ANCHOR NBC SPORTS’ BIG TEN STUDIO SHOW “B1G COLLEGE COUNTDOWN”
Show to Originate from Site of NBC Sports’ Primetime Game Each Week to Capture Campus Atmosphere and Spectacle
Penn State Hosts West Virginia on Debut of B1G Saturday Night, Sept. 2, on NBC and Peacock; Coverage Begins with B1G College Countdown at 7 p.m. ET
STAMFORD, Conn. — July 20, 2023 – Host Maria Taylor, analysts Matt Cassel, Joshua Perry, and Michael Robinson, and co-host Ahmed Fareed will anchor B1G College Countdown, NBC Sports’ studio show for its inaugural season of B1G Saturday Night, NBC Sports announced today.
Each week, B1G College Countdown will capture college football’s unique gameday atmosphere by providing pre-game and halftime commentary from the site of that week’s primetime game – 11 Big Ten and two Notre Dame games. The show will also provide pre-game and halftime content for most of NBC Sports’ college football afternoon games throughout the season on NBC and Peacock. For Notre Dame games, the show will be called College Countdown.
Following is a look at the B1G College Countdown studio team:
- Maria Taylor: Taylor is the host of Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports, and several additional prestigious NBC Sports properties. Over an unprecedented 10-month period in 2021-22, Taylor hosted the primetime network broadcast of the NFL Draft, NBA Finals, Olympic Games in Tokyo, Super Bowl, and Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. She is the first female full-time host of Football Night and has extensive college football experience from her time at ESPN and the SEC Network. Taylor was a two-sport collegiate athlete, playing both basketball and volleyball at Georgia.
- Matt Cassel: Cassel played quarterback in the NFL for 14 seasons, spending time with the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, Tennessee Titans, and Detroit Lions. A seventh-round pick out of USC in 2005, Cassel’s breakout season came in 2008, when he filled in for an injured Tom Brady and led the Patriots to an 11-5 record. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2010 after helping the Chiefs win the AFC West title. Collegiately, Cassel was a backup quarterback at USC and won two National Championships in 2003 and 2004.
- Joshua Perry: Perry enjoyed a successful college career as a linebacker for Ohio State, helping the team win the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship in 2014. He spent two seasons in the NFL, playing for the San Diego Chargers and Indianapolis Colts before retiring due to injury. In broadcasting, Perry has been featured on the Big Ten Network and sports radio in Columbus, Ohio.
- Michael Robinson: A Super Bowl-winning fullback and Big Ten alum, Robinson is an analyst for NBC Sports’ coverage of the USFL. A fourth-round NFL Draft choice out of Penn State in 2006, Robinson spent eight seasons in the NFL, playing four with the San Francisco 49ers (2006-2009) and four with the Seattle Seahawks (2010-2013), where he capped off his career by winning Super Bowl XLVIII. Robinson was named to the Pro Bowl in 2011. During his four-year career at quarterback for Penn State, he was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and led the Nittany Lions to the Big Ten Championship his senior year, finishing fifth in Heisman Trophy voting. Following his retirement in 2013, he has appeared as an analyst on NFL Network, including Good Morning Football: Weekend and NFL Total Access, and is now serving as the Seahawks preseason TV analyst.
- Ahmed Fareed: Fareed currently serves as a host and reporter on a variety of sport events and properties across NBC Sports, including MLB Sunday Leadoff, horse racing, Premier League, and rugby. Fareed has served as a studio host for four Olympic assignments and the past two Paralympic Games. From 2013-18, Fareed was a host and reporter for NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California, where he won two Sports Emmy awards.
“The college football atmosphere is unlike anything in sports and that’s why we’re going to be on campus every week with B1G College Countdown,” said Sam Flood, Executive Producer, NBC Sports. “Matt, Joshua, and Michael hail from three of the most fabled programs and energized scenes in college football – USC, Ohio State and Penn State, respectfully. Ahmed grew up in Big Ten country and has a deep passion for the sport and its fans. As the host of the NFL’s show of record and a two-sport collegiate athlete, Maria is the perfect choice to lead this new Saturday night tradition. We can’t wait to kick things off on September 2 from Happy Valley.”
The show will be produced by Lindsay Schanzer and directed by Kaare Numme and Jared Sumner. Schanzer has won six Sports Emmy awards and is NBC Sports’ senior producer for horse racing, including the Kentucky Derby. She has also worked on Sunday Night Football, Football Night in America and Notre Dame Football. Numme has won 14 Sports Emmy awards and directs Football Night in America and the Kentucky Derby, among other major properties. He previously worked on Sunday Night Football and Notre Dame Football. Sumner currently works on Peacock’s MLB Sunday Leadoff and Golf Channel’s studio coverage. He has also worked on NBC Sports’ coverage of the Indianapolis 500, NASCAR, and Football Night in America.
In February, NBC Sports announced its lead B1G Ten Saturday Night college football announce team, featuring Todd Blackledge (analyst) and Noah Eagle (play-by-play) in the booth and Kathryn Tappen as sideline reporter.
In August 2022, NBCUniversal and the Big Ten Conference announced a landmark 7-year agreement for NBC and Peacock to become the exclusive home of B1G Ten Saturday Night football. Peacock will also serve as the exclusive home for eight additional Big Ten Football games each season. B1G Ten Saturday Night will mark the first time ever that Big Ten Football will have a dedicated weekly primetime game on a national broadcast network.
The premier of B1G Ten Saturday Night features Penn State hosting West Virginia from Beaver Stadium in University Park, Penn., on Saturday, Sept. 2, at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock.
NBC Sports’ Big Ten Football and primetime games announced to date:
|Sat. Sept. 2
|East Carolina at Michigan
|Sat., Sept. 2
|West Virginia at Penn State
|Sat., Sept. 9
|Delaware at Penn State
|Sat., Sept. 9
|Charlotte at Maryland
|Sat., Sept. 16
|Washington at Michigan State
|Sat., Sept. 16
|Syracuse at Purdue
|Sat., Sept. 23
|Ohio State at Notre Dame
|Sat., Oct. 14
|USC at Notre Dame
|Sat., Nov. 11
|Michigan State at Ohio State
|Fri., Nov. 24
|Penn State at Michigan State (Ford Field)
*The studio show for B1G Ten Saturday Night begins at 7 p.m. ET
NBC Sports’ remaining Big Ten Football games will be announced during the season, with each matchup typically revealed 12 days prior to the scheduled game date.
Peacock’s expansive programming offers the most live sports of any SVOD service in the United States, featuring live coverage including Sunday Night Football, Olympic Games, Premier League, Notre Dame Football, NASCAR, NTT IndyCar Series, Big Ten football (beginning in September), and much more. Peacock also offers daily sports programming on the NBC Sports channel.
–B1G COLLEGE COUNTDOWN–