Hey, Why Did the Clock Start?

If it seems like college football games are using some NFL rules, they are.

In college (and NFL) football, the game clock stops when the referee rules a ball carrier out of bounds. Previously, the game clock stayed still until the next snap in college games. Now, it restarts once the ball is ready to play unless it's the final two minutes of either half.

  • QB hits receiver who goes out of bounds with 3:15 left in the first quarter. The game clock is stopped and then is restarted once the referee whistles the ball in play. The same process is used following a first down timeout.
  • Same play but there's 1:15 left in the first (or second) half. The game clock starts with the snap.
  • Same play but there's 4:25 left in regulation. The game clock restarts when the referee signals 'ready.' (In the NFL, the game clock stays quiet in the final five minutes of the second half.)

Until this season, NCAA football had one play clock rule (see exception below) -- the offense had 25 seconds to get a play off once the referee signaled ready. Now there are two.

  • When the ref blows a play 'dead,' the offense has 40 seconds to snap the next play.
  • Following play stoppages such as timeouts, it's the 25-second clock.

In addition to eliminating the five-yard face mask penalty and the sideline violation warning (first time it's a five yard penalty), the NCAA added the following sportsmanship reminder in the 2008 rulebook:

    Any attempt to record, either through audio or video means, any signals given by an opposing player, coach or other team personnel is prohibited.

Previous play clock exception: There was a 15-second play clock after television timeouts last season. Tis no more.


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