The expanded partnership between the Big Ten and Pac-12 to schedule more marquee nonconference games is great for both leagues and college football as a whole. It was announced this week that Michigan State and Oregon would play at Autzen Stadium on Sept. 13, 2014, and square off again in East Lansing on Sept. 12, 2015. The series replaces MSU's home-and-home deal with West Virginia, which asked out of the contract because of the Mountaineers moving to the Big 12. It's great for the Spartans because it allows them to get increased national exposure playing on the West coast, and it also gives them an opportunity to get a likely strong nonconference win to gain points in the polls, which will still matter no matter how the new postseason format takes shape once the current BCS contract runs out.
ICONColt Lyerla is an intriguing piece of the Oregon offense.
Staying in Eugene, Ducks head coach Chip Kelly gets a lot of credit for putting together an impressive stable of running backs each year. And rightfully so. But Kelly has also done a nice job of bringing in quality depth at tight end as well. And with David Paulson graduating, that depth may very well come into play. Highly rated 2011 recruit Colt Lyerla is projected to start at tight end, and the most intriguing aspect of his game is his athleticism. He will be lined up in a variety of ways in this high-octane, up-tempo offensive attack. The only question is whether he can be a consistent presence week after week and do the little things that TE's have to do in the blocking game. But the Ducks also very well may look to underclassmen Curtis White and Christian French. Kelly has no problem playing youth, so it will be interesting to see if at least one of these two youngsters can push Lyerla for playing time.
Two weeks ago Penn State landed one of the best tight ends in the nation when Class of 2013 local product Adam Breneman gave his commitment to the program. The potential five-star prospect is expected to step in next year and compete for reps in Bill O'Brien's offense. The Nittany Lions have been searching for a quality tight end since Andrew Quarless graduated after the 2009 season. Will PSU get production from the position this fall? While Kevin Haplea and Brian Irvin are working for the right to start, keep an eye on Garry Gilliam, a redshirt junior who missed most of 2010 and 2011 with a left ACL injury. In this new offense, tight end is expected to play a large role. And keep in mind that O'Brien coached New England Patriots stud Rob Gronkowski the last few seasons. While Gronk's numbers were ridiculous, Gilliam could serve as a viable candidate to make plays in the passing game if he is healthy
We all love Mike Leach, except maybe a certain political candidate down in Texas. The new Washington State head coach is always a joy to listen to at press conferences, and his quirky personality is good for the sport. But the former Texas Tech head coach endorsed a 64-team college football playoff this week. And, well, that's just ridiculous. I personally don't want to see anything more than the four-team Plus One model that is likely on the horizon. While I'm in the minority with that opinion, anything more would be overkill and, of course, take away from the greatest regular season in all of sport.
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