College football overtime rule changes approved for 2021

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel on Thursday approved a proposed overhaul to college football’s overtime rules.

Beginning with the 2021 season, teams must go for two points beginning with the second overtime period. Previously, they were not required to do so until the third overtime.

In addition, teams will alternate 2-point plays beginning with the third overtime period, rather than a series of four downs beginning at the 25-yard line. Previously, that set-up did not apply until the fifth overtime.

The NCAA Football Rules committee proposed the changes in March, with the goal to “lessen the number of plays it takes for a winning team to be determined.”

Other rule changes adopted Thursday:

• Permanently extending the players’ sideline area to the 20-yard line. It was moved from the 25-yard line to the 15-yard line in 2020 due to COVID-19.

• Video board and lighting system operators cannot “create any distraction that obstructs play.” This is likely in response to Oklahoma State simulating goal posts on its video board during a game vs. Texas last fall.

• Proposing a framework to allow for post-game video review of players faking injuries in order to stop the clock and “slow down the opposition’s momentum.”

“Points of emphasis” for 2021 will include stiffer penalties for taunting, sending players out of the game for violating uniform rules and issuing unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for coaches who enter the field of play to debate officiating decisions.