How long is the average college football game ? There are few things fans love more than plopping down on Saturdays in the fall, remote in one hand and a beer in the other, to watch college football for hours on end, and as it turns out, the length of games could be different this season.
Coming into this year, college football is the longest game of any major American sport: longer than the NFL, and more than an hour longer than college basketball and NBA games, and slightly longer than baseball games.
So, how long do college football games last? According to the current NCAA statistics, the average game takes 3 hours and 22 minutes, an increase of four minutes from just five years ago.
But going forward, that time could shrink after the NCAA announced a rule change for the 2023 season around clock management: starting this year, clocks will run after a team makes a first down, unless there is under 2 minutes, 30 seconds left in either half
Previously, the game clock and play clock would stop after a team made the first down and did not start until the referee motioned for the clock to run, usually after the umpire places the ball between the hash marks. That difference meant that college football games ran around 20 real-life minutes longer than NFL games.
How long is halftime in college football?
According to NCAA rules, halftime in college football should be 20 minutes.
However, it can be shortened before the game “by mutual agreement of the administrations of both schools.”
The longer halftime period allows for both schools’ bands to perform on the field for fans.
NFL games have a 12 minute halftime break, but that time is more than doubled for the Super Bowl, to 30 minutes, giving extra time to the much bigger halftime show in that contest.
Overtime in college football
If a game is tied at the end of regulation, the teams will play into an overtime period, the same as the NFL.
But unlike in the pro game, there are no ties in college football at the end of the first overtime frame.
In each of the first two overtime periods, teams have one possession starting at the opponents’ 25-yard line, unless a penalty occurs that moves them back on the field.
Each team has one timeout per overtime period; timeouts do not carry over from regulation nor between overtime periods.
Each team keeps the ball until it fails to score, fails to make a first down, or turns the ball over.
Starting in the second overtime period, teams must try a two-point conversion after scoring a touchdown.
And starting in the third overtime period, teams must run alternating two-point conversions alone instead of conventional offensive touchdowns
Clocking In: How Long Are College Football Games
College football games are an integral element of American sports culture, enthralling spectators with exhilarating displays of athleticism, strategy, and team spirit. While the popularity of the sport continues to grow, one factor that has received increased attention and caused debate is the length of these games.
The length of college football games has become a hot topic, with supporters and detractors voicing their opinions. As league owners, team managers, and coaches, much can be learned from how college football operates.
Coaches and team managers in junior leagues can prepare their players and staff for what they will encounter might they venture into college sports careers, and league owners can educate themselves on the intricacies of the game when played on such a big platform, especially during the playoffs when elimination tournaments take on the big stage.
Understanding what factors cause college games to have lengthy durations is integral for those that wish to gain experience in a college football coaching or managerial position.
This article will look into the elements that contribute to the different lengths of college football games, providing light on the intricate dynamics that determine the game’s duration, from electrifying touchdowns to strategic timeouts.
Factors affecting the length of college football games
If you appreciate the excitement of college football, whether you are a devoted fan, a student-athlete, or simply a casual viewer, you may have observed that not all games are made equally in terms of duration.
While some games go by quickly, others seem to drag on forever. Ever contemplate the reasons why? Small elements, such as changing football equipment during a live game, may slightly increase game length. Even so, let’s look at the main elements that affect how long college football games are today.
How long do college football games last?
Well, the short answer is not the most fun and concise one: It depends. However, there are a few things that are a bit more certain when it comes to NCAA football games.
How long is a college football game?
A college football game is the exact same length as an NFL game: 60 minutes. However, unlike professional football, college contests have subtle — albeit significant — differences in their game clock operation that alters the actual length of each match.
The most widely known difference is how often the clock stops in college football. For starters, after every first down, the clock stops. The game clock and play clock aren’t started until the head referee motions for the clock to run, and that only occurs after the umpire sets the ball between the hash marks.
Also, unlike the NFL, there is no 2-minute warning that stops the clock. In 2-minute situations, colleges use the first-down rule or simply get out of bounds to stop the clock as they limit the elapsed time from the game clock. This subtle rule change certainly affects how long a college football game is, but, on average, each contest lasts around 3.5 hours. That’s roughly 20 minutes longer than the average NFL game.
How many quarters are in a college football game?
Though there are differences in the game clock operations between college football and the NFL, each level of the sport has the same number of quarters in their contest. College football games consist of four quarters like the NFL, but if it goes to overtime, it’s a completely different ball game.
College football overtime periods have been evaluated in recent years and have changed each of the past two offseasons. Simply put, each offense is given a chance to match the opposition from either the 25-yard line to start off or from the 2-point conversion starting point of the 3-yard line after the third overtime period begins.
How long is halftime during college football games?
With the overall length of the college game being longer than in the NFL, one may expect the halftime periods to be longer as a potential culprit. That actually isn’t the case, as college football has always emphasized their halftime periods lasting no longer than 20 minutes. It helps keep the games at their current length.
CFB halftimes last longer than in the NFL by roughly 6.5 minutes. With the length of their games already longer due to first downs and the number of points scored on average, it would make sense to shorten the halftime period. However, college halftime periods are necessary breaks in the action for student-athletes due to the volume of plays they’re on the field for.
On average, college games have nearly 160 plays per contest, which is almost 40 more than NFL games. To combat that, colleges employ larger roster sizes than the NFL’s 53-man roster limit, but a 20-minute halftime break is certainly warranted.
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