What to watch for

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Editor's note: As part of Yahoo! Sports' College Football Season Preview, our analyst Terry Bowden analyzes what's new for 2005.

More Season Preview featuring Terry Bowden:
What to watch for | Preseason Sweet 16

ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Big 12 | More

Watch for: Instant Replay

After a highly successful year in the Big Ten, instant replay will be used by almost every Division I-A conference. I think you are going to love it. I was very skeptical heading into last season because I thought it would drag out the game much longer. But observing instant replay firsthand from the booth several times last season showed me that the procedure is quick, doesn't involve the coaches, and is limited to specific types of plays.

Basically, you won't have to worry nearly as much about the outcome of a game coming down to a questionable officiating call.

Watch for: Changes in the BCS

As usual, the BCS selection process has changed. The Associated Press poll backed out, forcing the BCS to come up with a new poll. Now we have the Harris poll, consisting of a new group of football experts.

But basically, nothing much has changed. It still is a three-pronged selection process consisting of two human polls and one set of computer rankings, with each carrying a third of the weight. If we end up with three undefeated or three one-loss teams at the end of the season, we likely still will end up with a controversial championship.

Conference Changes

Boston College

ACC from Big East


Big East from C-USA


Big East from C-USA

South Florida

Big East from C-USA


C-USA from MAC


C-USA from MAC


C-USA from WAC


C-USA from WAC


C-USA from WAC


C-USA from WAC


Independent from C-USA


Independent from Big East


Mountain West from C-USA

Fla. Atlantic

Sun Belt from I-AA Independent

Fla. International

Sun Belt from I-AA Independent


WAC from Sun Belt

New Mexico St.

WAC from Sun Belt

Utah St.

WAC from Sun Belt

Watch for: Conference Realignment

When the ACC raided the Big East a couple of years ago, it started a chain reaction that led to 18 teams changing conferences this year alone. With Boston College's arrival, the ACC now has 12 teams, two divisions, and a conference championship game that should rival the SEC and the Big 12. The Big East added Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida but still will have a difficult time maintaining its status as a major BCS conference.

The other changes occurred in the mid-major conferences. Although they should offer more security to some teams, they will have nothing to do with the national championship picture.

Watch for: USC Three-peat

No team has won the national championship three years in a row since the AP began crowning a champ in 1936. However, with Southern California pretty much a consensus preseason No. 1 and playing a schedule in which it will be favored in every game, the countdown to football immortality will play out every Saturday of the regular season. The biggest obstacle for the Trojans is that a football is oblong, not round – it never bounces the same way twice. Eventually, there's going to come a game when the ball just doesn't bounce their way.

Watch for: New head coaches under the microscope

Urban Meyer, Florida
With four teams on the Gators' schedule in my preseason Sweet 16, nine wins would be outstanding. But if he gets by Tennessee on Sept. 17, look out.

Charlie Weis, Notre Dame
Weis has been known for doing wonders on the offensive side of the ball, but with only three starters returning on defense, I'm not sure how much the offense is going to be getting off the bench. I'm having a hard time finding seven wins on this schedule.

Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
I always have felt you could scheme victories easier on offense than on defense. That's why Steve Spurrier will be more successful at USC than Lou Holtz. South Carolina never is going to have better athletes than Tennessee, Georgia, or Florida, so the ol' ball coach is going to have to win a few himself.

Les Miles, LSU
The Tigers are the only team that really matters in a state that has the fourth-highest number of recruits in America. Miles easily has the most talented team in the SEC West, and nothing less than an appearance in the SEC championship game is expected.

Watch for: Players who could get their teams to the Rose Bowl

1. QB Matt Leinart, USC
2. RB Gerald Riggs Jr., Tennessee
3. QB Vince Young, Texas
4. QB Troy Smith, Ohio State

Watch for: Must-see games in September

Sept. 4

Virginia Tech at North Carolina State

Sept. 5

Miami at Florida State

Sept. 10

Texas at Ohio State

Sept. 17

Tennessee at Florida

Sept. 24

USC at Oregon
Iowa at Ohio State
Tennessee at LSU