Rule Changes in College Football
by Allen Eastman - 09/08/2006
College football has begun with a couple rule changes, one of which could significantly affect your handicapping strategy. The clock now starts the instant the ball is kicked off instead of when the receiving team touches it, which should have little effect on the outcomes. The big rule change concerns the clock starting when the referee spots the ball on change of possessions as opposed to when the ball is snapped. This could shorten the game by 10-15 plays, which, as South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has mentioned, could be an advantage for the underdog. The theory is that the fewer the plays the less chance of the dogs performing the way that was forecast.
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Both rule changes were designed to decrease the time of games, which was badly needed. However, they could have kept everything the same and made one obvious change that would have achieved that goal without a drastic difference in the game. That is, keep the clock running after first downs as in pro football. There's no logical reason why the clock should be stopped after a first down, because if there's time to move the chains in the pros then they can do it in college football. Also, a team that's ahead in the final minutes of the game often is penalized for gaining a first down because of the clock stoppage. One last thing, be sure to keep an eye on totals the first few weeks of the season to see if the oddsmakers have adjusted to the changes.
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