How Long Do College Football Games Last?

The game clock may run 60 minutes, but games take much longer in real time

College football can't come back soon enough for many sports fans, but how long, exactly, do games take?

 

Most TV networks block off three hours for any given game, but everyone should know to set their DVRs to record at least an hour after the game if they want to re-watch.

 

As it turns out, the average length of a college football game is 3 hours and 24 minutes, according to NCAA statistics.

 

College football games are noticeably longer than NFL games, which have ranged from 3 hours and 3 minutes to 3 hours and 12 minutes in recent years. There are two main drivers for that difference, even though they use the same 60-minute regulation game clock.

 

First, college football has a 20-minute halftime break, compared to a 12-minute hiatus for the pro game. With marching bands such an ingrained part of the game's culture, it's hard to see that changing. College football rules also call for the clock to stop after a team gets a first down.

 

College football also has a much lengthier overtime. While the NFL has a 10-minute bonus period that can end after one score during the regular season, the college game gives both teams the ball and has reached seven overtimes on five occasions. Several matchups, including a 2003 Arkansas-Kentucky classic, have approached five hours in run time.

 

The length of a game is especially long when you consider that football games contain, on average, just 11 minutes of action.

 

College football games are the longest of any major American sport. While baseball is often decried for its length of games, 2019 contests only timed in at 3 hours and 5 minutes. NBA games in the 2018-19 season lasted 2 hours and 14 minutes, although there is only 48 minutes of game time, while college basketball, which has 40 hours of game time, averaged just over 2 hours.

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