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What are the new rules intended to shorten college football games?

NCAA officials believe games will have fewer plays in 2023 as compared to prior years.
What are the new rules intended to shorten college football games?
Posted at 1:26 PM, Aug 31, 2023

Thursday marks the start of Week 1 of the college football season, and with many teams kicking off their season this weekend, you might notice some different rules. 

During the offseason, the NCAA implemented new rules, and among the changes are ones intended to shorten games. College football games have tended to become longer as offenses have adopted hurry-up offenses, intended to tire defenses. The result of a hurry-up offense is teams aren't using as much of the play clock, resulting in more plays. Although both the NFL and NCAA play contests that have 60 minutes on the clock, NCAA Division I FBS games have 27 more plays than the average NFL game.

Steve Shaw, the national coordinator of football officials and secretary rules editor for the NCAA, called this a "pretty significant difference."

The most notable change is that the clock will continue running after first downs, except in the last two minutes of a half. Previously, the game clock would stop on a first down until the first down markers were in place for the next play. 

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By comparison, the NFL does not stop the clock at all on first downs. Shaw estimates the NCAA's new rule will cut the number of total plays by seven or eight per game. 

"We will still give the opportunity for the offense to score late in the half," Shaw said. 

Also, a team cannot call multiple timeouts before the same play. 

Another rule change is that if a penalty is called at the end of the first or third quarters, an untimed down won't be added to the quarter. Instead, the next snap will come at the start of the next quarter. 

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