Five things to know about five things
From the Heisman race to new rules, there is plenty to learn
There is a lot to know before the start of every college football season. There is the preseason Heisman talk with guys who are household names. There are the players that might be household names by the end of the year. Then you have new rules which you better know before your favorite team kicks off. Oh, and of course conference realignment -- they moved WHERE? And that coach ended up THERE? It's a lot. Here's your cheat sheet.
1. Teddy Bridgewater -- QB -- Junior -- Louisville
Louisville is expected to do big things in the American Athletic Conference in 2013. If the Cards do, it means Bridgewater had a huge season. And if he has a huge season, it means he'll likely at least be in New York City for the Heisman Trophy presentation in December. Bridgewater was named the Big East's Offensive Player of the Year after he threw for 3,718 yards and 27 touchdowns. He recorded six 300-yard games and two 400-yard contests. Many think he'll be the first quarterback taken in the 2014 NFL Draft if he forgoes his senior season.
2. Jadeveon Clowney -- DE -- Junior -- South Carolina
Defensive players have become Heisman contenders in recent years, beginning with Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh finishing fourth in 2010 and of course Notre Dame's Manti Te'o falling just short of Johnny Manziel a year ago in the Heisman race. He's known as "The Freak" and other coaches have said he's unblockable. Clowney likely will be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, but will he become the first defensive lineman to take home the Heisman hardware? If you need a reminder of what Clowney can do, just see below.
3. Johnny Manziel -- QB -- Sophomore -- Texas A&M
Johnny Football returns to College Station for his second season looking to become only the second repeat Heisman Trophy winner after Ohio State's Archie Griffin did so in 1974-75. Manziel will have a lot to live up to. He became the first player to surpass 5,000 yards of offense and 1,000 yards rushing in the same season and the first at the FBS level to throw for 300 yards and rush for 100 yards in a game three different times. Not bad. What's in store for an encore?
4. Marcus Mariota -- QB -- Sophomore -- Oregon
If not for Manziel, Marcus Mariota would've been considered the nation's best freshman. So, yeah. He was the "other" guy in 2012 -- and that wasn't so bad. Mariota made the first-team in the Pac-12 as he threw for 2,677 yards, completed 68.5-percent of his passes and rushed for 7.1 yards per carry. With head coach Chip Kelly gone, will Mariota have the same success in 2013? With the same offense in place, the answer is most likely yes. And if he does, you can almost guarantee a spot in New York for the prolific passer.
5. AJ McCarron -- QB -- Senior -- Alabama
How could you not have the quarterback of the nation's best team on this list? Ya know, the one that has won the last two national championships. McCarron threw 30 touchdowns and only three interceptions in leading the Crimson Tide to another national title in 2012. Sure, he had some help with a stable of running backs and a defense that any coach in the country drools over. But without their steady signal-caller, it doesn't happen. If Alabama has another season like it has of late, expect this guy to be right there in the Heisman discussion.
1. Brett Bielema -- Arkansas -- Career Record: 68-24
Bielema goes from a great run of success at Wisconsin to the SEC. And Bielema will get his "welcome" during a four-game stretch of a brutal schedule: Texas A&M, at Florida, South Carolina and at Alabama. There are no more trips to Champaign, Ill., anymore.
2. Sonny Dykes -- California -- Career Record: 22-15
After leading Louisiana Tech to a 9-3 record in 2012, Dykes bolted for Berkeley where he'll bring a fast-paced offense. Dykes consistently improved the team's offense and he'll look to do the same for the Bears. The only problem? He'll start true freshman Jared Goff at QB. It may take a while for that offense to sink in.
3. Mark Helfrich -- Oregon -- Career Record: 0-0
Oregon's offense has been lethal, so it was only natural that the Ducks turned to offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich when Chip Kelly left for the NFL. After all, Kelly stepped right in for Mike Bellotti, so why not Helfrich? He's been there since 2009 and the Ducks have been to four consecutive BCS bowls and won three Pac-12 titles in a row.
4. Gus Malzahn -- Auburn -- Career Record: 9-3
Malzahn returns to Auburn after only one year as the Arkansas State head coach. It's finally his time to lead the way at a big program. The numbers while he was with the Tigers as offensive coordinator were staggering -- including a national championship with Cam Newton at the helm. The Tigers finished the season ranked 17th in scoring in his first season at Auburn, with more than 33 points per game after being tied for 110th in the nation in scoring the previous season.
5. Bobby Petrino -- Western Ky. -- Career Record: 75-26
There's one thing Bobby Petrino does and that's win. He did it at Louisville and at Arkansas and will look to do the same at Western Kentucky after sitting on the sidelines in 2012. Petrino led the Razorbacks to an 11-2 record in 2011 -- only the third 11-win season in the 119-year history.
1. Georgia State -- Old: CAA -- New: Sun Belt
Georgia State officially announced that it would join the Sun Belt Conference in April 2012, but really it's that they are re-joining the Sun Belt. The Panthers were a founding member of the Sun Belt Conference in 1976. Bill Curry's last season as head coach led to a 1-10 season -- only the program's third season of football. Now, Trent Miles leads the Panthers into their first season at the FBS level and will be eligible for the postseason in 2014.
2. Houston -- Old: C-USA -- New: AAC
After the breakup of the SWC in 1995, Houston became a charter member of Conference USA. In October 2011, Houston was extended an invitation to join the Big East Conference in all sports. With the Big East dropping football, the Cougars will play in the newly-formed American Athletic Conference, only two years after going 13-1 and finishing 18th in the final AP Poll of the season. In their last season in C-USA, Houston went just 6-7.
3. Louisiana Tech -- Old: WAC -- New: C-USA
The Bulldogs lost the only conference they've ever known at the FBS level when the Western Athletic Conference dropped football for the 2013 season. Louisiana Tech moved on to Conference USA where it will play in the West Division under new head coach Skip Holtz. The Bulldogs had two winning season in a row with Sonny Dykes at the helm.
4. Pittsburgh -- Old: Big East -- New: ACC
Pitt has played at the highest level of college football competition since the beginning of the school's sponsorship of the sport in 1890. Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst was introduced as the head coach and led the Panthers in their final season of the Big East which included an appearance in the Compass Bowl where they finished with a 6-7 record. Chryst will lead Pitt into the ACC where the program will compete in the conference's Coastal Division.
5. Syracuse -- Old: Big East -- New: ACC
While Pittsburgh will compete in the ACC's Coastal Division, the Orange will be in the Atlantic Division as play begins in 2013. The two former Big East rivals will still play every year -- as they have since 1955 -- having been designated crossover-rivals. The Orange will play in a different conference for the first time since 1991 when the Big East played its first season as a football conference.
1. Antonio Andrews -- RB -- Senior -- Western Kentucky
Western Kentucky has one of the biggest weapons in college football history. Andrews' 3,161 all-purpose yards were the second-highest total behind 1988 Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders. Andrews and Sanders are the only two players in NCAA history to eclipse 3,000 all-purpose yards in a single season. Not bad company.
2. Rakeem Cato -- QB -- Junior -- Marshall
Cato threw for 4,201 yards and 37 TDs last season, completing 69.5 percent of his nation-leading 584 attempts. He led all FBS schools in completions per game (33.83) and passing yards per game (350.08) and threw a touchdown pass in every game last season.
3. Todd Gurley -- RB -- Sophomore -- Georgia
Gurley ran for 122 yards and two touchdowns in the SEC championship game, against Alabama’s top-ranked run defense. He became the second UGa true freshman (Herschel Walker in 1980) to rush for more than 1,000 yards and he set Georgia freshman running back record with 17 rushing TDs.
4. Donte Moncrief -- WR -- Junior -- Ole Miss
Donte Moncrief is really good. He's one of the better receivers in the SEC. He finished the season with 66 catches (third-most in school history) and 979 yards (second-most in school history), while tying the school single-season record with 10 touchdown catches. But most importantly, the kids in Oxford made a song about him.
5. Kyle Van Noy -- LB -- Senior -- BYU
Some say Kyle Van Noy is the best defensive player in the nation. And that'd be tough to argue with. He led the Cougars with 22 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, eight quarterback hurries and six forced fumbles in 2012, while adding 53 tackles, two interceptions, one fumble recovery and two blocked kicks.
1. Targeting Fouls -- Automatic Ejection
Players haven't been allowed to lead with their helmets while tackling for years. But now the penalty has been stiffened. Players will automatically be ejected for targeting fouls, including targeting and initiating contact with the crown of the helmet, and targeting and initiating contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, elbow or shoulder. Plus, the 15-yard penalty remains. And remember this part of the rule: For fouls in the second half of games, disqualification for the remainder of the game and the first half of the team's next game.
2. Minimum Time to Spike Ball
A rule that will come into play when your team is trailing late. If the game clock is stopped with three or more seconds remaining in the quarter and will start on the referee’s signal, the offense may reasonably expect to throw the ball directly to the ground and have enough time for another play. With two seconds or one second on the game clock there is enough time for only one play.
3. Uniform Numbers
All sorts of new language when it comes to numbers on jerseys. When a player enters the game after changing his jersey number, he must report to the referee, who then informs the opposing head coach and announces the change. Such a player who enters the game without reporting commits a foul for unsportsmanlike conduct. The numbers also must be 8-10 inches in height and be a contrast in color to the jersey.
4. Helmet Off: Timeout Allows Player to Remain in Game
In the past, players had to come off the field for a play if their helmet came off during a play. Now, the player may remain in the game if the team has a timeout to use. It'll be interesting to see if coaches will use a timeout in such situations.
5. Assisting the Ball Carrier
A slight change when it comes to "helping" a ball carrier gain more yards. You still can't grasp, pull or lift a teammate. But the words "push" and "charge into" have been deleted from the rule book. Remember the play below? The penalty wasn't called then, and it will never be called again.