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NCAA to let clock run on first downs beginning in 2023

Admit it: You’re going to miss those 70-point Big 12 games too.

A general view of the stadium and logos on the field before the CFP national championship game between the TCU Horned Frogs and Georgia Bulldogs at SoFi Stadium. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A half-century old rule in college football is going out the window in 2023.

CBS’ Dennis Dodd reported on Friday that the NCAA is expected to approve a rule change that will allow the game clock to continue to run after first downs. This move is expected to cut the average number of plays per contest by seven and increase the pace of games. However, the game clock will continue to stop after first downs in the final two minutes of each half. The rule change will apply to all divisions except Division III.

Since 1968, the game clock in college football has stopped after first downs and resumed upon the official start of the next play. This has been a rule that has delineated the sport from its professional counterpart in the NFL. The clock stoppage has allowed for driving offenses to gather themselves for the next set of downs, while defenses on their heels can briefly regroup. In recent years, this has facilitated elongated games between high-scoring, pass-happy offenses who are consistently bailed out by the clock. Now the strategy for teams will have to change on the fly, especially for teams attempting to come back prior to the final two minutes of a game.