College football matches keep getting longer and longer and longer. This comes as no surprise to any fan who settles on their couch for a full list of games.
but the reason Why Games that last longer may come as a surprise.
According to a report by Seth Emerson of The Athletic, the average game of college football takes 3 hours and 22 minutes from start to finish.
You don’t imagine it: college football games take longer. But the usual sources of blame — TV timeouts, replay reviews, weather delays — aren’t the main culprit.
A story about why games take longer, and what can be done: https://t.co/Isi6cOe1ry
– Seth Emerson September 23, 2022
That’s four minutes longer than the average just five years ago. But it’s not commercials or weird timeouts, or even a replay review that lengthens games.
Instead, the answer is harmless.
The rise of the pass game has led to longer college football games
College football is no longer about three yards and a cloud of dust. Even the Big Ten finally chose to spread things and throw the rock (no, not you, Iowa)!
The more teams pass the ball, the longer the matches become. This is due to a number of reasons, but the main reason behind it is more points and more first flaws. Although it may be somewhat surprising, the shortcomings are reduced. It turns out that the teams got really good at this fleeting stuff.
Emerson’s report reveals that the average number of non-completions shrank from 27.9 to 23.9 from 2002 to 2022. But declines and first points go up a lot.
Teams averaged 39.5 first touchdowns in 2002. That number is now 43.4. Scoring followed suit, too. Two decades ago, there were an average of 9.1 scoring games (touchdowns and field goals) in any given game. Now, there are 10.3 times goals scored in every game.
Unsurprisingly, the running plays followed the opposite trend. Teams combined to run the ball 79.0 times per game in 2002, but only 74.6 times this season.
The increase in game duration hasn’t become a huge problem yet, but it’s heading in that direction.
“In a perfect world, games could always be 3:15 to 3:30 in length, and that would be the wheelhouse,” said Nick Dawson, ESPN’s senior vice president of programs. “I’d say the majority, by anecdotal, fit that window. But sure, there are exceptions to the rule. It’s tough because there’s a balance. If it’s a great competitive game, 56-52 is a four-hour game, nobody complains, right? So? A 6-10 game was four hours, you’re having problems.”
So if you find yourself missing out on some of that valuable time on Saturday, you might want to contact your favorite team’s offensive coordinator.
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