It’s finally game week! In the past, we’ve limited these lists to just the top 25 players, but this season, we’re upping our game to 50. So just about every day until the season starts, there will be a new player profile up here as we count down to the top ACC player for 2013.
Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus “completely bulletproof” — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.
Playing in a weak conference — albeit for just this one year — has its advantages, and there’s a very good chance that both Louisville and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will be taking full advantage of their few months in the American Athletic Conference. And that’s not to take away from either the team or QB either. Both proved last year, most notably at the Sugar Bowl, that they were for real and ready to be players on the national stage. It’s just that there’s no denying the advantage they’ll get this season playing against the 98th-toughest slate in the country. All that aside though, everything’s falling nicely for Bridgewater to end up at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York come the end of the year.
At times last season, Bridgewater’s accuracy was downright lethal, as he carved up defenses at will. Out of passers that qualified, his 68.5 completion percentage on the season was tied for sixth best in the FBS, and he also completed over 70 percent of his passes five different times (his season-best was 90.5 against Kentucky). All season, opponents had only managed to complete 52 percent of their passes against Florida (sixth-lowest mark in the country), and yet Teddy went 20-of-32 (62.5 percent) for 266 yards against them in the Sugar Bowl. No matter who you’re playing, throwing for over 3,700 yards and 27 scores (to just eight picks) in a season is no easy task. Doing it for a national title contender, though, is what gets you mentioned among the best in the sport.
So what will it take for Bridgewater to be honored as a Heisman finalist this season? The numbers are nice and should go up based on the playmakers around him. But ultimately, it’ll come down to Louisville’s record. Given the conference they’re in and the schedule the Cardinals play, they’ll need to be undefeated, I’d think, in order to give Teddy a chance. Might not seem fair (and I’d agree), but based on the way voters have been lately, the other top candidates and overall SEC dominance of late, it just seems like that’s the only way. Hardware or not though, Bridgewater’s still going to be one of the top quarterbacks in the country, with a real chance to be playing in a BCS Bowl (or maybe more) come January.