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10 Things to Change about College Football: Overtime Rules

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This week I continue my 10 part piece on things I would like to see changed in college football. For reference, here are the previous articles:


The Bowl System

Conference Affiliation of Officials

For this installment, I am going to propose some changes (a.k.a. radical overhaul) to the overtime rules.


Overtime was first instituted for the 1996 season. Prior to that, if the game ended in a tie, it was called a tie. Novel concept, right? For reference, Notre Dame has 42 ties on the books.

While I am sure that everyone is familiar with the overtime rules in college football (you are on your own for the NFL-I'm looking at you, Donovan McNabb), here are the highlights:

--Each team gets one possession per overtime period

--The ball is placed at the 25 yard line to begin each possession

--The game clock is inactive, but the play clock is still enforced

--Beginning with the 3rd overtime period, teams are required to go for a two point conversion if they score a touchdown.

--Each team gets one timeout per overtime period

Notre Dame lost its first overtime game against Air Force in 1996 (20-17). They are 3-8 all-time in overtime games.

The longest overtime game played in D-I history was in 2003, when Arkansas defeated Kentucky 71-63 in 7 overtimes.


Personally, I never liked overtime in college football. There was something simpler about the days when a tie was a tie. Alas, those days are gone and I realize I have no way to possibly convince 99% of fans (casual or hardcore) that overtime is a bad idea.

Instead of waxing poetic or commissioning fishoutofwater to pen an epic tale of days gone by when all was right with the world and ties were considered an acceptable outcome to a hard-fought game on the gridiron, I will propose some simple changes to the broken rules that govern the blemish commonly referred to as overtime.

In place of the current OT system, I would like to push for something more closely resembling the NFL system (or old NFL system, anyway). Let's get a true overtime-sudden death.

Gone are the alternating possessions starting in routine field goal position (outside of teams from Tuscaloosa, but that is another topic for another day). Seriously, who thought of that one?

In its place, there would be one 15 minute overtime session, each team with two timeouts. Start with a coin flip and let the insanity ensue. Seriously, can you think of a better way to have an overtime session?

If, at the end of the 15 minute overtime the teams are still tied, the game is declared a tie and everyone goes home. Anticlimactic you say? Hardly. If two teams are that evenly matched over 75 minutes, then neither should be declared a winner (or loser). While I don't care for most things NFL**, I do think they got this one right.

**Just for the record, the NFL has had their sudden death OT rules since 1974. There have been 17 ties over this time span, and just 4 since 1990.

Related Reading:

NCAA Rulebook