NCAA Approves Rule To Run College Football Clock After First Downs

Apr 21, 2023, 4:03 PM | Updated: 4:09 pm

NCAA, College Football, Clock Change...

NCAA approved legislation that will stop the clock after first downs in college football games. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – For the first time since 1968, NCAA football will have a running clock after first downs.

That rule change was put into effect on Friday. It will be implemented for Division I (FBS, FCS) and Division II. The only division not adopting the clock change is Division III college football.

Under the new rules, the game clock in a college football game will continue to run when a first down is gained. The game clock will be stopped when a first down is gained during the last two minutes of either half.

For decades, college football previously stopped the clock after a first down was gained, and the clock would restart when the officials awarded the offense the first down.

The rule change aligns closer to what the NFL uses with the clock. The NFL keeps the clock running after first downs are awarded. The only difference is that the NFL doesn’t stop the clock after the first downs gained in the last two minutes of a half.

NCAA Football Rules Committee anticipates the rule change will “modestly” reduce the number of plays in a college football game. However, the NCAA stated they “will study closely during the 2023 season.”

The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach reported that the rule change to the clock could affect fewer than 10 plays per game.

NCAA passed three clock-related changes for college football in 2023

The NCAA approved two other clock-related rules for the 2023 season and the running clock rule change.

Teams will be prohibited from calling consecutive team timeouts. Plus, penalties at the end of the first and third quarter will carry over and be enforced on the first play of the next quarter.

With the penalties at the end of a quarter, officials previously would extend the quarter for an untimed down. That is now gone.

The state of Utah has six teams that these rules will impact. Those programs are BYU (FBS, Big 12), Utah (FBS, Pac-12), Utah State (FBS, Mountain West), Southern Utah (FCS, United Athletic Conference), Utah Tech (FCS, United Athletic Conference), and Weber State (FCS, Big Sky).

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Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU moving to the Big 12 Conference on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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NCAA Approves Rule To Run College Football Clock After First Downs