College Football News July 16: Michigan State Has Nation’s Best Offensive Line

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Mark Dantonio built Michigan State into a Big Ten and national championship contender with a hard-nosed philosophy. The Spartans’ tenacious defensive style have garnered plenty of attention, but Matt Brown of Sports on Earth tabs Michigan State’s offensive line has the best in college football.

Brown breaks down the top five of each position group. Michigan State’s Big Ten rival Ohio State tops quarterback (duh), Georgia is No. 1 at running back and LSU leads the defensive backs. No shocks there, but spots two through five in each group are intriguing.

FCS Powers Northern Iowa and Montana Agree to Home-and-Home

Jim Sullivan, Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

Football Championship Subdivision powerhouse Montana opens the 2015 season in a nationally televised showdown with reigning champion North Dakota State. Next season, the Griz take on the one team to beat NDSU last year, Northern Iowa.

UNI is as much a fixture in the FCS Playoffs as Montana. With the recent move in the Subdivision toward marquee, nonconference games, it only makes the two programs broker a series.

“It was a good opportunity with two nationally-recognized, brand-name programs. It’s a game I know our fans — a lot of fans — told me they wanted.

“I knew from that standpoint … it would be an attractive matchup to get to our place.”

Montana’s visit to the UNI-Dome is the Griz’s first since 1987. Northern Iowa played Montana in Missoula in the 2011 Playoffs.

Missouri Tigers Are Nation’s Most Misread Team

Blair Kerkhoff, The Kansas City Star

Two-time defending SEC East Missouri had its turn at SEC media days on Wednesday with the customary mild reception. The Tigers are the media’s pick to finish third in the division, behind Georgia and Tennessee. The Bulldogs and Vols are favorites in the division — one and two, two and one depending on the outlet.

However, Missouri is pretty much universally overlooked. Head coach Gary Pinkel is used to it, as Blair Kerkhoff explains.

The Tigers’ roadmap from Columbia to Atlanta, location of the SEC Championship Game, is expertly crafted without detours for expectations (or lack thereof). Missouri’s lack of attention from media fits in the overall identity of the program.

Western Kentucky, Louisiana Tech Picked to Win Conference USA

Jonathan Litner, The Courier-Journal

Western Kentucky finished its first season under Jeff Brohm on a decided high, beating eventual Conference-USA champion Marshall in the regular-season finale, then topping Central Michigan in an instant classic in the Bahamas Bowl.

Quarterback Brandon Doughty returns to lead an explosive offense that C-USA media members pick to win the league’s East Division. In the West, defending divisional champion Louisiana Tech is favored to repeat.