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New Rules Don’t Fix College Football Overtime Problem

Penn State
Photo by Penn State Athletics

There will probably be a lot of attention to where Penn State goes from here after this clunker of a 20-18 loss in nine overtimes to Illinois. After all, the Lions just had a bye week and were ranked seventh against a lowly 2-5 Illini, a team that is probably one of the worst teams in the Big Ten.

But there will also be a lot of conversation on where the new overtime rules in college football stand after this game turned out to be the so-called guinea pig of the new regulations. In the past, two teams would play as many overtime periods as it needed from the 25-yard line with each team having a possession, and teams would have to go for a 2-point conversion in the third overtime. Now, players have to go for two in the second overtime, and starting in the third overtime, you have alternating 2-point conversion tries to decide the winner.

The way Penn State and Illinois turned out will certainly have the people in charge of these new rules wondering if they made anything better.

The new rules were designed to cut down on the time it takes to play these marathon overtime games. And in this situation for what appears to be the first time in major college football, the plan failed miserably. The time of the game was four hours, 10 minutes, and the quality of the football wasn’t there either.

Illinois, the 20-18 winner, had 2-point conversion tries starting in the third overtime of pass attempt failed, pass attempt failed, pass attempt failed, pass attempt failed, rush attempt failed, successful pass, and successful pass.

What did Penn State do with their 2-point tries? Pass attempt failed, pass attempt failed, rush attempt failed, pass attempt failed, rush attempt failed, rush attempt successful, pass attempt failed.

When you have that many tries that go unsuccessful, what’s the point? It’s very reminiscent of starting a runner at second base in Major League Baseball. And it seems like both were just made up for the fun of it.

I know there are probably no perfect solutions to overtime rules in football in general. Personally I preferred the old college rules over the NFL overtime, which puts 10 minutes on the clock and keeps playing the same game like the previous 60 minutes never happened.

I’m also not in favor of ties either. It seems like every week in the NFL there is a game that is pretty close to ending in a tie. It rarely happens, but when it does, it just feels like there is no conclusion to the game.

Judging from social media posts during the overtime periods on Saturday, nobody liked the way this game was ending either. PSU fan posts ranged from just wanting the game to end one or way or another, or they just didn’t care what happened one way or another.

It will be interesting to see what the NCAA will do with overtime after the season is over. There’s no chance they would end these rules in the middle of the season, but they are also probably hoping a situation such as the one Saturday doesn’t happen again.

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