The NCAA made a series of rule changes for the upcoming season and most of them have been made to make the game safer instead of more exciting.

It is now illegal to block below the waist after a team has intercepted a forward pass, a lateral, or a fumble in the air. It has been made illegal to block a potential pass receiver below the waist.

The NCAA also believes that the severity of a penalty can also be a deterent. If a passer, holder or kicker is roughed, not only will a 15-yard penalty be assessed, but a first down will be awarded too.

Five other personal fouls -- striking a blow to the head, kicking an opponent, butting or ramming with the helmet, spearing, and striking a ball-carrier with the top of the helmet now also call for automatic first downs.

Maine defeated New Hampshire last season when a place-kicker batted a backward pass from the holder 30 yards into the end zone where it was recovered for a touchdown. The rule that permitted that has been stricken.

The old rule made it legal to bat a backward pass forward. The NCAA rules committee decided there were too many possibilities for unorthodox plays under the old rules and the coaches were taking advantage of them.

The rule makers have also come up with a way to speed up the already fast college game. In the past, after a penalty, the clock started after the snap. Now it will start when the referee gives the ready-for-play sign.

The NCAA also has rewritten the intentional grounding rule, making it illegal to intentionally throw a bad pass just to stop the clock.

Other rule changes cover matters ranging from where a penalty will be assessed to who calls the opening coin toss.