Never before has college football had the influence in pop culture that it carries today. Nowhere is that more evident than its big brother, the NFL.
As long as there has been professional football, it has always impacted the way the game has been played at the collegiate level. It makes sense, when you think about it, because college players want to go on to the next level, so they want to learn the necessary skills to compete in the NFL before they actually get there.
Also, college football is a game of copycats, as the most successful systems permeate the sport and latch on pretty much everywhere. In days gone by, the most successful systems usually came out of the professional leagues.
But recently, that dynamic has shifted. As college football becomes bigger and bigger, it seems the NFL is starting to copy certain trends in the collegiate ranks.
The most obvious of this is the dual-threat quarterback running the read option.
In the past, college quarterbacks weren't really considered as strong NFL prospects if they couldn't drop back and throw 50 passes a game with accuracy and efficiency. So college programs adopted the NFL-style passing game to prepare their QBs for the professional arena.
But as the NFL has stagnated a bit in the past few decades in terms of new and different offenses, college football has exploded with innovators trying all kinds of new things in order to get any type of advantage they can.
So instead of shunning these quarterbacks who might be able to run the ball just as well as they can throw it, the NFL has embraced their talent … and worked in some of the plays and styles that make their talent so effective.
That's not to say that the NFL is becoming more like college football. Pro ball is still a pass-first game, and college QBs who can't throw very well at all (sorry, Tim Tebow) still struggle to find a place in the NFL.
But a new breed of athlete is making inroads into the most prestigious position at the game's highest level, led by the likes of Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III.
And as those types of QBs continue to show NFL franchises that their dual-threat brand of football can be successful against pro defenses, more and more will get the opportunity to take the helm of NFL teams.
In my opinion, this more balanced give-and-take between the NFL and college – which used to be basically a one-way street – is good for the game at both levels. Sometimes, change is good, and this is the perfect example of that.
So, as a guy who (in general) prefers college sports over their professional counterparts – the closest gap is between the NFL and college football – I welcome the change.
Someday soon, they may be so similar that I'll have to (read: enjoy the opportunity to) write about both.
Wisconsin at Iowa
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City
Line: Wisconsin by 9½
What's up: The Hawkeyes still need a win to get bowl eligible, and usually match up well against fellow run-first teams … but the Badgers seem to utilize their weapons better than Iowa does.
My pick: Wisconsin 24-21
Michigan at Michigan State
When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing
Line: Michigan State by 5
What's up: The Spartans are in the driver's seat for the Legends Division crown, and their offense has been much better the past month. The Wolverines can score, but seem to be a bit suspect on defense.
My pick: Michigan State 31-28
Georgia vs. Florida
When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: EverBank Field, Jacksonville
Line: Georgia by 3
What's up: The Bulldogs are reeling, and injuries have hit their high-powered offense hard. The Gators have been inconsistent at best. Could be a war of attrition.
My pick: Georgia 17-13
Oklahoma State at Texas Tech
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock
Line: Texas Tech by 1
What's up: Both these teams can put up points, and do so in a hurry. Both are also trying to avoid a second Big 12 loss to stay in the conference title hunt. Should be entertaining, unless you;re a big fan of defense.
My pick: Texas Tech 44-41
Miami at Florida State
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee
Line: Florida State by 21½
What's up: The Seminoles have looked unbeatable the past few weeks, while the Hurricanes struggled a bit last week. If FSU plays the way they have been lately, Miami could be in for a long night.
My pick: Florida State 41-28