Overtime rules change designed to shorten games, decrease injuries

Teams will be required to run a 2-point conversion play after a touchdown in the second overtime period. Previously, this was only required after a game reached the third overtime period. (photo courtesy eiupanthers.com)

The most significant rules change for this fall’s college football will require teams to run a two-point conversion play after a touchdown in the second overtime period. Previously, this was only required after a game reached the third overtime period. 

The NCAA said this change is being made to bring the game to a quicker conclusion and limit the number of plays from scrimmage in an effort to reduce injuries that may be more likely as games go longer.

Eastern Illinois redshirt junior Tyler Hamilton has seen the two-point play from both sides of the ball, first from as a defensive back at Purdue and then as a receiver for the Panthers.

“That’s going to be a more exciting way for the game to end,” Hamilton said of the rule change. “It’s a good way for us as players at a competitive level.”

Hamilton, the former cornerback, feels the pressure is usually greater on the defensive back rather than the receiver for the two-point conversion attempt.

“You’re not really knowing what to expect. You’re obviously put into a position to succeed, but still being on the defensive side you’re not in control of the ball,” Hamilton said. “Whereas on offense you know the ball could be going here or the ball could be going there. You have destinations and targets where the ball can go to, so I definitely think being on the defensive side, and playing corner, is a little harder.”

JJ Ross, one of Hamilton’s former EIU teammates, transferred to Western Illinois where he is now listed as a starting cornerback for the Leathernecks.

Ross was asked if the rule change would alter this approach to overtime.

“Not for me, because you still have to go out there with the same mindset to finish the game. Honestly, it doesn’t change anything for me. (I’ll treat it) the same way, just like it’s the first quarter,” Ross said.

The last time

The last time a state FCS team played an overtime game was 2019 when Western Illinois lost a three-overtime heartbreaker 37-31 to Missouri State in Macomb.

Eastern Illinois knocked off UT-Martin 24-21 in overtime on homecoming 2018. Interestingly, the Panthers played three overtimes games in 2017 and won them all.

Illinois State last played an overtime contest in 2017, dropping a 27-24 decision at South Dakota State.

It’s been six years since Southern Illinois went to the extra session. The Salukis slipped past Youngstown State 38-31 for a homecoming victory in 2015.

Other changes

In addition to the change to the overtime procedures, the team area will be permanently extended to the 20-yard lines. In previous years, it reached the 25-yard lines before it was expanded to the 15-yard lines in 2020 to increase space due to the pandemic.

There are also changes being made to promote good sportsmanship. Thus, video board and lighting system operators are now included as “personnel who may not create any distraction that obstructs play.” There will also be more emphasis on officials penalizing any taunting actions directed at the opponent to avoid unnecessary confrontations. 

Coaches will also receive an automatic unsportsmanlike foul if they leave the team area and enter the field of play to debate a call made by the officials. 

Finally, the Football Rules Committee “proposal to provide a framework to allow a school or conference to request a postgame video review about questionable actions through the NCAA secretary-rules editor/national coordinator of officials” for feigning injuries.

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