College football is one of the most popular sports in America. Though it may not be quite as big as the NFL, it inspires a different level of loyalty because many fans have previously attended the universities they root for.
If you have an interest in college football but don’t know where to start, there are a couple of important differences between the college level and NFL level. Read on to find out the things that separate the very similar games.
The first thing that stands out between college and the NFL is the overtime rules. Football betting looks quite a bit different because it is possible to tie in the pros. In college, overtime keeps going until there is a winner. It’s a more satisfying end and can create some pretty epic games in the process.
Overtime is not sudden death, however. Each team gets a possession to start. If both teams score, there is another round. After the third possession, if the score is still tied, teams must go for the two-point conversion if they score a touchdown. The first team to score and get a stop wins.
The last few minutes of a half or the game are oftentimes the most exciting. When the game is tight with just a few minutes to go, the college game differs from the NFL in one important way: the clock will stop on first downs in the final two minutes of the half.
While it might not seem like that big of a deal, it can be a huge difference-maker. Picking up a first down will stop the clock, allowing the offense to get up to the ball and get set. Those few seconds that get saved can add up as well. Even if it seems like there is no time left on the clock, having the ability to stop the clock after a first down can end up being the difference between a win and a loss.
The NFL has 32 teams, which is on the higher end for a professional sport. If you think that’s a lot, however, it is nothing compared to Division I college football. The “big leagues” of college football are known as the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). There are a whopping 128 teams at the FCS level.
It is important to note that not every team is on the same level. The gap between the best and worst NFL teams is relatively small compared to college football. The biggest and most competitive programs are in five major conferences known as the “Power 5.” The talent level in those conferences is often worlds different than the bottom-of-the-rung FCS programs.
In the NFL, standings are the only thing that matters. Winning percentage, points scored, and head-to-head records act as tiebreakers in the event that teams have the same record. It seems like a relatively simple method for determining division leaders and eventual playoff teams. However, the college system works differently.
Conferences have standings, which work for determining conference championship games. For the college football playoff, however, rankings play a part. The Associated Press and coaches throughout the FCS vote on each team and rank them accordingly.
It is a very human method and there is often some measure of debate about where a team belongs and who may have been snubbed. It’s great for generating conversation but nearly every year there is talk of a team that was left out who should have been included in the playoff picture.