College football: Will a new rule shorten the games?

Sep. 8—While it is not as dramatic as the changes major league baseball has made this season to speed up its games, there is a change in a rule in NCAA Division I and Division II football which could result in shorter games and teams running fewer plays this year.

Now the clock will stop after first downs are made only in the final two minutes of each half. Until now the clock stopped every time a team made a first down.

Ryan Day alluded to the rule being changed after Ohio State's 23-3 win over Indiana last Saturday. "Those games go fast. They had 54 total plays and we had 67. Man, it seems to go fast," he said.

Some of the media people standing near me in the postgame interview room also said they thought the game, which took 3 hours, 15 minutes to play, seemed like it had ended earlier and maybe it was because of the new rule.

If you turn back the clock to Ohio State's opening game against Notre Dame a year ago, the time of the game was exactly the same (3:15) and the two teams combined for four fewer plays than OSU and Indiana ran last Saturday.

But Saturday's game was completed in less time than 11 of the 12 games on Ohio State's regular-season schedule last year.

The longest OSU games last season were: Wisconsin (3 hours, 59 minutes), Maryland (3 hours, 48 minutes), Penn State (3 hours, 39 minutes) and Michigan (3 hours, 36 minutes). The shortest games, other than the Notre Dame game, were Northwestern (3 hours, 19 minutes), Iowa (3 hours, 20 minutes), Arkansas State (3 hours, 21 minutes).

And there were games with many more plays, including Maryland (combined 141 plays), Penn State (140 combined plays) and Michigan (137 combined plays).

What it appears we are getting is fewer plays and more ads.

Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.