8 Differences Between College Football and the NFL

College football and the NFL might be playing the same sport, but the two leagues have major differences.
Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

College football and the NFL might be playing the same sport, but the two leagues have major differences. First and foremost, the players are different, with college football employing students, while the NFL has pros. Also, the money earned is severely different between the leagues, especially with the coaches.

That said, if you want to delve further into the two league's differences, then you're in luck because, in today's article, we will talk about the differences in terms of the rules of the sport, the money earned by the players, and other major changes.


The draft for the NFL takes place every offseason every year. The draft itself is a chance for weaker teams to have a chance to get major players that they think will help the team be better or outright win the Super Bowl. Usually, the team who did the worst in the last season gets to pick first, allowing them to land on the best players first.

On the other hand, college football teams don't have a draft like in the NFL. The teams will be limited to their students in the respective colleges or universities. Usually, a student is eligible for the draft if they have been out of high school for at least three years. This rule was originally made for seniors, but nowadays, non-seniors can be drafted.

Number of Teams

College football is large, with 130 teams fielded by colleges, universities, and academies. These teams are usually split into different conferences and divisions. On the other hand, the NFL has 32 teams, categorized equally into different divisions, 8 of them to be exact. Because of the difference in number, it's harder for people to forecast the future of each conference, especially for college football.

Jersey Numbers

In the NFL, the jersey numbers have meanings. For instance, numbers in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are usually defensive backs on defense and running backs for offense. Players with numbers in the teens and 80s are usually receivers.

This allows people to surmise what's exactly happening in the field. This makes it easier for coaches to strategize since they know who's who on the field playing. On the other hand, in college football, the numbers mean nothing. They are selected randomly; sometimes, the players can even pick their numbers. Some numbers even overlap.


In the NFL, contracts can be worth millions and span a few years. Not only that, but they are also receiving sponsorships, especially for sports brands. However, in college football, there is no such thing as contracts. However, they can now take in sponsorships because of the recent changes in college football.

Number of Players

In the NFL, there are 53 players, and 46 of them are required to be active each Sunday. However, in college football, the number of players in each team can go into triple digits. Some of them don't even have unique numbers. In college football, because of their limited choices of players, they focus more on quantity instead of quality.

On the other hand, the NFL is composed of highly trained professional athletes who are carefully selected for each position. It's safe to assume that the NFL focuses more on their players' quality than quantity. With all that said, let's go to the different rulings for the two leagues. These rulings might be minor, but they can significantly affect the games and, in turn, FanDuel College football odds and NFL odds.

Pass Reception

The complete pass category is different for both leagues. In the NFL, the receiver must hold the ball and have both feet on the ground for the pass to be complete. In college football, however, the receiver must only have at least one of his feet down for the pass to be complete. Usually, agents only try to recruit receivers from college football who receive the ball this way.

Two-Minute Warnings

There is usually a two-minute warning for both halves in an NFL game. This allows the teams to change their tactics, players, etc. However, in college football, there is no two-minute warning. However, they can still call for a timeout.

The Game Clock

This is a subtle difference, but it plays a major role in the games. In NFL games, once the first down happens, the clock will continue to run unless a timeout happens. On the other hand, in college football, the clock stops after the first down. What effect does this difference have on the game? Having the clock stop at the first down will give the losing team a bigger chance to make a comeback.

Final Words

The difference between college football and NFL might be minor because they give each league a different feel. Things are a little bit serious on the side of the NFL, but that doesn't mean there are no emotions in college football. Each of the leagues has its pros and cons, but they are both fun and exciting, especially during the peak of their season.

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