Course Content
Rule – 4 Ball in Play, Dead Ball, Out of Bounds
Rule 11 – The Officials: Jurisdiction and Duties
Appendix A Game-Official Guidelines for Serious On-Field Player Injuries
Appendix B Lightning Policy
Appendix C Concussions
Appendix D Field Diagrams
Appendix E Equipment: Additional Details
Appendix F – Official Football Signals
Appendix G Summary of Penalties
Appendix H Accommodations for Student-Athletes with Disabilities
Part II: Interpretations
Table of Contents for Approved Rulings
List of New and Modified Approved Rulings
NCAA Rules
About Lesson

Length of Periods and Intermissions

ARTICLE 1. The total playing time in a collegiate game shall be 60 minutes, divided into four periods of 15 minutes each, with one-minute intermissions between the first and second periods (first half ) and between the third and fourth periods (second half ) (Exception: A one-minute intermission between the first and second and the third and fourth periods may be extended for radio and television timeouts).

  1. No period shall end until the ball is dead and the referee declares the period ended [S14].
  2. The intermission between halves of a regular-season game shall be 20 minutes, unless shortened before the game by mutual agreement of the administrations of both Immediately after the second period ends, the referee should begin the intermission by signaling to start the game clock [S2].

Timing Adjustments

ARTICLE 2. Before the game starts, playing time and the intermission between halves may be shortened by the referee if they are of the opinion that darkness or other conditions may interfere with the game. The four periods must be of equal length if the game is shortened before its start.



  1. Any time during the game, the playing time of any remaining period or periods may be shortened by mutual agreement of the opposing head coaches and the referee. (A. R. 3-2-2-I)
  2. Timing errors on the game clock may be corrected but only in the period in which they occur.
  3. If the referee has positive knowledge of the elapsed time, they will reset and appropriately start the game clock.
  4. Timing errors on a play clock may be corrected by the referee. The play clock shall start again (Rule 2-29-2).
  5. When the play-clock count is interrupted by circumstances beyond the control of either team (without positive knowledge of game clock elapsed time), a new count shall be started and the game clock shall start per Rule 3-2-4-b.
  6. The 40/25-second clock is not started when the game clock is running with fewer than 40 or 25 seconds, respectively, in a period. The play clock shall be set appropriately and continuously display this time (40 or 25 seconds) and hold.
  7. The game clock should not be stopped if the play clock is started in conflict with paragraph f above.
  8. Timing adjustments for games using Instant Replay are governed by Rule 12-3-6 and 12-3-7.

Extension of Periods

ARTICLE 3. a. A period shall be extended for an untimed down if one or more of the following occurs during a down in which time expires (A.R. 3-2-3-I-VIII):

  1. A penalty is accepted for a live-ball foul(s) (Exception: Rule 10-2-5- a). At the option of the offended team, the period is not extended if the foul is by the team in possession and the statement of the penalty includes loss of down (A.R. 3-2-3-VIII).
  2. There are offsetting
  3. An official sounds their whistle inadvertently or otherwise incorrectly signals the ball dead.
  1. Additional untimed downs will be played until a down is free of the circumstances in statements 1, 2 and 3 of Rule 3-2-3-a (above).
  2. If a touchdown is scored during a down in which time in a period expires, the period is extended for the try (Exception: Rule 8-3-2-a).

Timing Devices

ARTICLE 4. a. Game Clock. Playing time shall be kept with a game clock that may be either a stop watch operated by the line judge, back judge, field judge or side judge, or a game clock operated by an assistant under the direction of the appropriate judge. The type of game clock shall be determined by the game management. The game clock shall not display tenths of seconds.

  1. 40-Second Clock. When an official signals that the ball is dead, the play clock shall begin a 40-second count.
    1. If the 40-second clock does not start or the count is interrupted for reasons beyond the control of the officials or the play-clock operator (e.g., clock malfunction), the referee shall stop the game clock and



signal (both palms open in an over-the-head pumping motion) that the play clock should be reset at 40 seconds and started immediately.

  1. In the event that the 40-second play clock is running and reads 25 before the ball is ready to be snapped, the referee shall declare a timeout and signal that the play clock be set at 25 seconds. When play is to be resumed, the referee will give the ready-for-play signal [S1] and the play clock shall begin the 25-second count. The game clock will start on the snap unless it had been running when the referee declared a timeout; in that case, it will start on the referee’s signal (Rule 3-3-2- f ). (A. R. 3-2-4-I and II)
  1. 25-Second If the officials signal the game clock to be stopped for any of the following reasons, the referee shall signal (one open palm in an over- the-head pumping motion) that the clock should be set at 25 seconds:
    1. Penalty
    2. Charged team
    3. Media
    4. Injury timeout for a player of the offensive team only. The play clock is set to 40 seconds for an injury to a player of the defensive team.
    6. Team B is awarded a first
    7. After a kick down other than a free
    8. Score other than a touchdown (not the try).
    9. Start of each
    10. Start of a team’s possession series in an extra
    11. Instant replay
    12. Other administrative
    13. An offensive team player’s helmet comes completely off through play. The play clock is set to 40 seconds if the helmet comes completely off a player of the defensive team.

When play is to be resumed, the referee will give the ready-for-play signal [S1] and the play clock will begin its count.

  1. Device Malfunction. If a visual 40/25-second timing device becomes inoperative, both coaches shall be notified by the referee immediately and both clocks shall be turned off.

Minimum Time For A Play After Spiking The Ball

ARTICLE 5. If the game clock is stopped and will start on the referee’s signal with three or more seconds remaining in the quarter, the offense may reasonably expect to throw the ball directly to the ground (Rule 7-3-2-f ) and have enough time for another play. With two seconds or one second on the game clock there is enough time for only one play. (A.R. 3-2-5-I)

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