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No. 17 Oregon expects to have two starters back vs. No. 7 Washington

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Ahead of a huge Pac-12 North matchup, one of the combatants is expected to get a lot healthier.

Starting defensive end Austin Faoliu didn’t play in No. 17 Oregon’s Week 5 win over then-No. 24 Cal because of a foot injury.  With the Ducks off in Week 6, it was thought that the lineman would be a go this coming weekend; with a massive showdown against No. 7 Washington looming Saturday, Faoliu has been declared “good to go” by head coach Mario Cristobal.

Additionally, starting tight end Jacob Breeland (pictured), who missed the Cal game because of injury, is expected back as well.

“We feel good about our health; the bye week has helped,” Cristobal said by way of The Oregonian. “We’ve been banging it up pretty good, too. We practiced hard, we took some of the physical part of practice away from the guys that logged a lot of reps, but we also didn’t remove that completely.

“They did get their physical work good-on-good, making sure that technique and fundamentals were at the forefront of everything and that we are playing and elevating our level of effort as it relates to everything that we do.”

Faoliu had started the first four games of the 2018 season after starting two games as a true freshman in 2017.  In this season’s action, he has been credited with 15 tackles.

Breeland is currently third on the Ducks with two receiving touchdowns; fourth in receiving yards with 131; and fifth in receptions with seven.  He started 11 games as a redshirt sophomore last season, pulling in a team-high five receiving touchdowns.

Alabama, USF schedule 2-for-1 series starting in 2023

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USF is on a scheduling roll with 2-for-1 series’ against major Power Five opponents. The latest to join the list of future Bulls opponents?

None other than the SEC’s dominant force in Alabama.

The two schools confirmed the details on Thursday afternoon, announcing the three-game set at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Sept. 16, 2023. The return pair of contests in Tuscaloosa will take place on Sept. 7, 2024 and Sept. 12, 2026.

“Our future non-conference schedules are really rounding out quite nicely with the addition of series such as this one with USF,” said Alabama Athletics Director Greg Byrne in a release. “We look forward to the early-season road test against a quality opponent in an NFL stadium in 2023 and will welcome them to Tuscaloosa for a pair of home games in 2024 and 2026.”

“We are very excited to open the Alabama series in Tampa in 2023 and to add one of the most successful brands in American sports to a very exciting list of future opponents that will give our student-athletes and coaches a great opportunity to compete against the best programs in the nation,” USF AD Michael Kelly added. “We now have 15 games scheduled vs. SEC and ACC opponents in the next 10 years and I think our fans are really excited to see those teams come to Tampa as well as the opportunity to travel and cheer on the Bulls in those destinations. It’s going to be a lot of fun to be a USF fan.”

The teams previously met in back in 2003, which resulted in a one-sided affair in favor of the Crimson Tide 40-17 in Birmingham. Alabama also notably visited Raymond James Stadium during the 2017 National Championship Game in a thrilling 35-31 last second loss to Clemson.

USF also announced a previously scheduled home game against FAU was moved to Sept. 5, 2026 to accommodate recently announced series against Florida, Miami and Alabama.

As a result of the 2-for-1 series with the Bulls, the Crimson Tide’s 2023 schedule appears to be complete with additional non-conference home games against Texas, Central Michigan and Western Kentucky. The 2024 date is the first on the docket for Alabama that year and the 2026 date complements a trip to West Virginia.

USF, meanwhile, will also play Western Kentucky in 2023 during non-conference play and has a completed slate of games in 2024 with this announcement (including an impressive run of the Hilltoppers, N.C. State and Louisville the same season. In 2026, the Bulls also play at Louisville in addition to going to Tuscaloosa.

Texas approves two-year contract extension for Tom Herman

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With Texas being back (?), the football program’s sideline boss is being rewarded for getting the Longhorns there.

Amidst speculation that surfaced earlier this month, the university confirmed Thursday that a two-year contract extension for Tom Herman has been approved.  The head coach is now signed through the 2023 season, the same season, incidentally, a home-and-home with Alabama will finish up.

According to the Associated Press, the two-year extension is worth a total of $13.25 million.  This past year, Herman’s $5.5 million in compensation was ninth nationally and tops among all Big 12 coaches.

“I’m so grateful for President [Greg] Fenves, [athletic director] Chris Del Conte and the UT Board of Regents, and for all the support they provide me, my family and our football program,” Herman said in a statement. “I truly love being the head football coach at Texas. I’m enjoying every minute of it, am so fortunate to have a tremendous staff, and the players in our program are just awesome to work with.

“We’ve done some good things, but have so much more we are preparing to accomplish. I’m excited for the future.”

After a 7-6 first season in Austin, Herman guided UT to a 10-4 record in 2018, which included a Sugar Bowl win over fifth-ranked Georgia.  The 10 wins marked the first time the Longhorns hit double-digits since going 13-1 in 2009 under Mack Brown.

K-State’s leading receiver last two years to transfer

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The latest addition to the portal is a rather significant one.

In somewhat of a surprising development, a Kansas State official confirmed to CFT that Isaiah Zuber is now listed in the NCAA transfer database.  The official made sure to note that Zuber could return to K-State by pulling his name from the database; conversely, CFT will make sure to note that K-State has the option to pull the wide receiver’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered the portal.

As a graduate transfer, Zuber will be allowed to use his final season of eligibility immediately at his next stop.  As a highly-productive player, Zuber should be a highly sought after player in college football’s version of the free agent market.

Zuber led the Wildcats in receptions each of the past two seasons — 52 in 2018, 51 in 2017.  During his time in Little Manhattan, Zuber totaled 1,321 yards and 11 touchdowns on 127 receptions.

P.J. Fleck doesn’t practice what he preaches when it comes to commitment

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P.J. Fleck thinks there’s a problem in this country, and he doesn’t have a clue how correct he is.

As you may or may not have noticed, the NCAA transfer database is wide open and has been doing a significant amount of business.  There’s not a day goes by where there aren’t multiple posts on CFT about Player X entering — or reentering, as the case may be — his name into the portal. And then there are high school prospects committing to one school while (gasp!) still taking visits to others.

The personnel movement both before and after entering the collegiate ranks has caused significant angst within the coaching profession, not the least of whom is the current Minnesota head coach.  From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

I have a rule: You commit to me, you can’t go see another place,” Fleck said. “Not because I’m insecure. But if you want to be committed, you’re going to be committed. Too many people teach young people to be committed but also one foot in and one foot out. … You’ve got to be all in.”

Or as Fleck termed it: “We have a problem in our society. We don’t have a problem in our program.

The problem with that?

In December of 2014, Fleck signed a six-year contract extension as the head football coach at Western Michigan.  Less than two years later, speculation was running rampant that he was the frontrunner for the Minnesota job; in January of 2017, Fleck was named the head coach of the Golden Gophers.

It’s easy to talk about loyalty and commitment when it’s somebody else’s, right coach?  Coaches are free to move above the country at their leisure, while the vast majority of the very same profession will do anything and everything to restrict a player’s movement to a situation the student-athlete feels is better for his future.

Fleck is right about there being a problem in the sport, but it sure as hell isn’t limited to player movement.

(Tip O’ the Cap: @CFAAEliteClips)