The NCAA football rules committee made several rule changes for 2008, and includes the following:
Teams have 40 seconds from the time a ball is declared dead to snap the ball. The 25 second play clock will still be used for administrative stoppages and penalties.
The 15 second play clock after a TV timeout (adopted in the 2007 season) is repealed and returned to 25 seconds.
Outside of the final two minutes of each half, if a runner goes out of bounds, the game clock restarts after the ball is spotted.
The penalty for kicking the ball out of bounds on the kickoff is increased, placing the ball at the 40-yard line, similar to the NFL.
Reinforcing that contact that leads with the crown of the helmet to another player (targeting) is a foul, penalized 15 yards. In the 2013 season, such a foul includes an automatic ejection.
All face-mask penalties result in a 15-yard penalty. Incidental contact with the face mask is no longer penalized.
Sideline warnings are now penalized five yards for the first two occurrences, and 15 yards (unsportsmanlike conduct) for the third and subsequent violations. Previously the officials gave teams two warnings before a five-yard penalty was called.
If a coach challenges a play, and he wins the challenge, then he is given a second challenge to use later in the game, but each coach has a maximum of two challenges per game even if both are decided in his favor.
With an upset over West Virginia at home and a victory over Virginia Tech the week before in Charlotte, East Carolina vaulted into the Top 25 rankings for the first time since 1999, and set a Conference USA record for being the first team to beat three top 25 teams consecutively (#24 Boise State, #17 Virginia Tech, and #8 West Virginia.)
Ole Miss posted its 600th win and first win over a Top 5 team since 1977 when the Rebels defeated Florida. Three of the last six times Florida has lost to an unranked team it has been to Ole Miss. The loss to Ole Miss was the only loss by Florida in the 2008 regular season.; USA Today; OleMissSports.com
In the first ever visit of ESPN's College Gameday in Nashville, the Commodores defeat the higher-ranked Tigers after a missed extra point by Auburn. The next week, Vanderbilt received its highest ranking ever at #13.
In the second of three key Mountain West games with BCS implications, the Horned Frogs jump to a 10–0 first-quarter lead, but the Utes remained unbeaten with their BCS hopes alive, scoring the winning TD on a pass from Brian Johnson to Freddie Brown with 47 seconds left.
#11 Georgia hosted #18 Georgia Tech in Athens for what looked to be Georgia's 8th win in a row in the storied rivalry, Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate. However, after trailing 28–12 at halftime, Georgia Tech sprung out of the locker room erupting for 33 points in the second half, beating Georgia 26–0 in the third quarter alone. This kept Georgia Tech's streak of 8 wins in a row from 1946–1954 as the longest in the series.
12-0 Ball State tried to complete their first undefeated season in fifty-nine years in the MAC Championship Game, but Buffalo was able to capitalize on the Cardinals' mistakes to earn their first ever conference championship and secure a bid in the International Bowl, fifty years after turning down their only previous bowl invitation to protest segregation at the game's site.
First conference championship game ever to feature both the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the AP Poll. Alabama entered the SEC Championship Game as the only BCS-conference team to finish the regular season undefeated.
If a conference does not have enough eligible teams to fill all of its contracted bowl slots, and an affected bowl does not have a contingency agreement with another conference (e.g., the Poinsettia Bowl, which has a contract with the WAC to take one of its teams if the Pac-10 does not have enough eligible teams), the bowl "left out" can select an at-large team. By NCAA rule, an at-large bowl slot must be filled by a team with at least 7 wins, if available. Two new bowl games were added for the 2008–09 post-season: the EagleBank Bowl, which was played at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., and the magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl in the titular Florida city at Tropicana Field.
After the completion of the regular season and conference championship games, seven teams had secured BCS berths: Big Ten champion Penn State, Big East champion Cincinnati, ACC champion Virginia Tech, SEC champion Florida, Big 12 champion Oklahoma, Pac-10 champion USC, and Mountain West champion Utah, as the highest-ranked non-BCS conference champion. With Oklahoma and Florida being selected to play in the championship, Texas and Alabama were selected to assume their conference's spots in the Fiesta and Sugar Bowls. Cincinnati was selected for the Orange Bowl and Utah for the Sugar Bowl, with the remaining at-large spot awarded to Ohio State for the Fiesta Bowl. Ohio State was selected despite being ranked behind #9 Boise State at #10. #7 Texas Tech did not receive an at-large selection, as they were ineligible with the Big 12 already being awarded two BCS slots.
* - The AFCA requires that their voters make the winner of the BCS Championship at the number one position in the final poll. ≠ - Kyle Whittingham, head coach of Utah, broke the agreement and voted his team number one on his ballot.