How Long Are College Football In The USA? (Find Out Interesting Facts!)

Last Updated on November 25, 2021 by Daniel Cuttridge

According to NCAA stats, the average college football game lasts three and a half hours in length. College football games are generally longer than NFL games. An average NFL football game lasts slightly over three hours in length.

As a die-hard fan of American football, you’re supposed to be familiar with the length of the game. But that’s not the case with people who are just starting out with the game. People who are watching a football game for the very first time might not be familiar with the length of the game. However, you should expect youth football or a high school football game to have a shorter game length than college or NFL football. 

The table below contains the level of plays in football games and the average game lengths. 

Playing LevelAvg. Game Length
NFL3+ hours
NCAA3.5 hours
High School2-2.5 hours

Why Is College Football Longer Than NFL Football Games? 

Why Is College Football Longer Than NFL Football Games

We’ve prepared a comprehensive list of the main reasons why college football games last longer than NFL games on average. 

Halftime 

NFL halftime is shorter, lasting only 13 minutes and 30 seconds, compared to college football halftime which lasts for about 20 minutes. That’s an additional seven minutes to the total length of the college football games. 

First Downs

In the NFL, the game clock isn’t stopped when a first down is gained. However, that’s not the case with college football. Until the ball is set by the referee, the clock is halted when a first down is gained in college football. So, the stoppage of the game clock adds to the total time taken to complete the college football games. 

More Scoring

The NFL produces fewer points when compared to college football. This simply means college football will have more kickoffs (potentially untimed down) and more extra points (untimed downs) and more commercial breaks which add to the length of the game. 

Quarters In College Football

Just like the NFL football game, a college football game has 4 quarters. Halftime separates quarters two and three. Here’s where both college football and the NFL share the same attributes. Each half lasts for 15 minutes. However, in real-time, the average football quarter lasts over 45 minutes. On the other hand, the average NFL football quarter lasts for 60 minutes in real-time. 

How Long Is A College Football Game On TV?

Normally, a college football shouldn’t last more than 3 and a half hours. However, you should expect an extra five minutes introduction if you’re watching the television broadcast. Don’t forget that there are always post-match interviews for some players and coaches. As a newbie, just prepare yourself to spend extra 30 minutes on TV because some games would certainly last beyond the normal 3 and a half hours.  

How Long Is College Football Halftime?

The halftime of a college football lasts for only 20 minutes. And the governing bodies are not considering the extension of the time. This is to ensure the length of the game isn’t excessively long. 

How Long Is A High School Football Game?

On average, a high school football game lasts between two and a half hours with halftime separating the second and third quarter. It consists of four quarters, lasting 12 minutes each. The only state in America using a different quarter length is the state of Massachusetts. They use 10-minute quarters in the playoffs and 11-minute quarters during the regular season. To be honest, it is a bit difficult to say precisely the average length of a high school football game because of the varieties of classes of high school football with different levels of play and varying levels of talent. But the fact is that a high school football game is noticeably shorter in length than an NFL game and a college football game. 

How Long Is A Junior Varsity Football Game?

Varsity football games are quite longer than junior varsity games because junior varsity games are played with only 10 minutes halftime and four quarters lasting 10 minutes each. There also might be changes depending on your location in the states. A junior varsity game lasts two hours or in some cases shorter. 

How Long Is A Youth Football Game?

A youth football game lasts anywhere between one hour and a half, with a 10 minutes halftime, and four quarters lasting for eight minutes each. However, some youth leagues utilize four quarters lasting 10 minutes each. The breaks between each quarter are relatively short and last only for a minute or two. 

How Long Is A Canadian Football League Game?

A Canadian football game lasts for about 3 hours, with a 14 minutes halftime and four quarters lasting 15 minutes each. The total game flow of a Canadian football game is almost identical to that of an NFL game because it doesn’t utilize a running game clock. 

Closing Thoughts

Truthfully, a college football game is the longest of any major sport in the United States. With the fact that the NFL games still have a game length ranging from  3 hours and 3 minutes to 3 hours and 12 minutes in recent years, college football games are still longer. Although the two levels of play use the same regulation game clock, they have different game lengths. One of the reasons why college football games are longer is that they have a 20-minute halftime break, compared to a 12-minute break in the NFL games. Also, you’ll notice that the game clock stops in college football games when a team gets the first down. This adds to the total amount of time. Furthermore, college football also has much longer over time.  We’ve reached the closing chapter of this informative article. We hope you were able to find good resources in your quest to know the length of college in the United States. If you have any questions or comments about the article topic, don’t hesitate to contact us. Thanks

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