College Football Overtime Rules

Like in any sport anywhere in the world, there are overtime, extra innings, extra time or some other form to extend a tie game to find an eventual winner. College football is no exception. The overtime rules for college football are far different from those of the NFL and for many are much fairer and more practical. Of course overtime at the college level has had it critics. Some fans like it and some don’t. However, the current NCAA football overtime rules are about as fair as you can get.

college football ot

Overtime Starts

The overtime period begins with the coin toss to see who gets possession or who defends their goal first. Unlike the sudden death form of overtime in the NFL, college football’s overtime allows each team the chance to have possession. There is no game clock in overtime at the college level, just the normal play clock.

The team that gets possession first receives the ball on its opponent’s 25-yard line. The team can keep possession of the ball until one of the following happens:

  1. They score a touchdown
  2. Attempt a field goal
  3. Turn over the ball

Once the first teams possession is over the second team gets possession and follows the same format. If the first team scored a touchdown and an extra point, then the second team must do so in order for the overtime period to continue. If not the game is over when the second team losses possession.

Double Overtime

If both teams score the same amount of points, whether by touchdown or field goal, then a second round of overtime is played following another coin toss.

Triple Overtime

If a third overtime is needed, then teams are forced to convert a 2-point conversion following a touchdown. They cannot kick an extra point.

The one and only way for the overtime period to end without one team getting possession is if the first team turns the ball over and the defense is able to convert a touchdown on the turnover. Otherwise, each team is afforded the same number of possessions. This form of overtime has seen its critics as offensively minded teams have a much higher chance of winning. Playing inside the 25-yard line of your opponent is a difficult task, as the field becomes smaller and open spaces fewer. Therefore, teams that are used to controlling the clock and pushing the ball forward tend to be more successful in OT at the college level.

The NFL overtime session has been changed of late and is no longer 100% sudden death and critics seem to like it a bit more. The rules committee at the NCAA level should take into consideration the rule changes in the NFL and see if the new form is worth looking into.