Change in college football landscape

College football is in the midst of a dramatic change.

Major conference realignment is finally coming to fruition with the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) adding the University of Pittsburgh and Syracuse University, and the Big 12 Conference adding West Virginia University and Texas Christian University while losing Texas A&M University to the Southeastern Conference.

Pitt’s move to the ACC was bittersweet. They had played in the Big East Conference since 1982 and were part of a legacy of excellence in both football and basketball.

Unfortunately, the Big East started as a basketball conference, and many of its schools did not even have football teams. As time went on, this conflict of interest eventually led to all of the football schools leaving the conference, starting in 2004 when the University of Miami and Virginia Tech moved to the ACC.

Because of Big East football’s decline in recent years, Pitt’s move to the ACC has been rough. Their ACC debut came on Labor Day against Florida State University.

Unfortunately for Pitt, this was also the debut of redshirt Florida State first-year quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston threw for four touchdowns and added another rushing score, demolishing the Panthers defense with 381 total yards.

Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage had a mediocre game with one touchdown to two interceptions and a barely 50 percent completion percentage.

This season also marks the final year of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). Currently, the two teams chosen for the national championship game are based on the BCS rankings, a weighted compilation of the Associated Press Poll, the USA Today Coaches Poll, and six computer rankings.

These computer rankings have always caused controversy. The algorithms that determine the rankings are not made public and use different criteria in ranking teams.

While the national championship teams may have been controversial in the past, the defending national champions have silenced all doubters. The University of Alabama has won three of the last four national championship games.

This past Saturday, they faced off against the Texas A&M Aggies led by Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. Last year, Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman, cementing his campaign by handing Alabama their one and only loss of the season.

On Saturday, despite setting a school record for passing yards and scoring 42 points against the intimidating Alabama defense, Manziel was unable to repeat last season’s magic, and his Aggies fell to the Crimson Tide, 49–42.

Penn State is two years removed from the unpleasant ending of the Joe Paterno era and the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Coach Bill O’Brien has done a fantastic job keeping the Nittany Lions from spiraling into irrelevance.

Unfortunately, there are still some growing pains as the program recovers from the major talent loss following the penalties doled out in the wake of the scandal. So far, Penn State is picking up where they left off after last year’s surprising 8–4 campaign. The Nittany Lions are 2–1 against all non-major conference schools. Their one loss came on Saturday against the University of Central Florida.

Despite the loss, Penn State showed their will to fight, overcoming an early 18-point deficit and bringing the game back to a more respectable 34–31 finish. Running back Zach Zwinak rushed for 128 yards and three touchdowns but hurt the Nittany Lion comeback efforts with a late fumble.

College football is going through a major transition period with conference realignment and a new championship-determining method. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the quality of football played every Saturday.