This year's list of quarterbacks was selected in conjunction with the release of ESPN's new Total Quarterback Rating (QBR) - the top 30 returning quarterbacks according to the QBR make up the Watch List. The winner will still be selected by a voting panel, which includes national media and each of the Mannings, after the bowls.
Louisville's Bridgewater, last season's BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year, guided the Cardinals to an 11-2 record, a BIG EAST title and a win over fourth-ranked Florida in the Sugar Bowl, in which he was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
A native of Miami, Fla., Bridgewater headed a Louisville offense that was vastly improved last season, averaging 31.2 points per game and 418.8 yards of total offense per game. Starting 11 games, Bridgewater threw for 3.718 yards per game and 27 touchdowns to earn first team All-BIG EAST accolades.
Known for his accuracy, Bridgewater completed 68.5 percent of his throws and tossed a career-low eight interceptions. He recorded a new career-high by passing for 424 yards in a loss to Syracuse and also passed for 416 yards in a win over Cincinnati in overtime.
He is steadily approaching many of Louisville's all-time records in only one full year as a starter. The 6-foot-3 signal caller sits sixth in passing yards (5,847), fifth in touchdowns (41), first in completion percentage (66.5) and third in passing efficiency (148.87).
This year's Watch List includes players from all 10 Football Bowl Subdivision conferences. The Mountain West Conference leads the way with six honorees, while the Southeastern Conference has five quarterbacks on the list and the Pac-12 adds four.
Bridgewater and the Cardinals will open the season on Sunday, Sept. 1 in a 3:30 p.m. nationally televised kickoff versus Ohio on ESPN.