College Football Rules: Points After A Touchdown

Pop Quiz:  What’s the play following a college football six-point touchdown called?

Pop Quiz Choices:  A:  The Extra Point;  B:  The PAT;  C: The Try Down; or D:  The Fumbleroosky.

Pop Quiz Answer:  C

I recently read portions of the 211-page NCAA Football 2013 and 2014 Rules and Interpretations following Nebraska’s Hail Mary pass against Northwestern.  (Nebraska won the game by three points on the game’s final play, and a guy asked me why Nebraska didn’t kick the extra point after the final play to put Nebraska up by four points, which happened to be the number of points by which Nebraska was favored at the start of the game.  Anyone who bet on Nebraska would have benefited from a successful extra point, in which case the bet result would have been a “push” instead of a lost bet, in which case the bettor’s money would have been returned to him instead of having been lost.)

Pages 83-88 of the Rules and Interpretations discuss Scoring.  Here’s what I learned:

The play after a six-point touchdown is called the Try Down–an actual down during which the clock does not run.  And–interestingly–a offensive or defensive team can score a touchdown during the Try Down that follows a touchdown.   A Try Down touchdown is worth two points.  (Most refer to this as a two-point conversion.)

The offensive team can also score a field goal during the Try Down that follows a touchdown.   A Try Down field goal is worth one point.  (Most refer to this as an extra point or PAT [Point After Touchdown].)

The defensive team can score a safety during the Try Down that follows a touchdown.  A Try Down safety is worth one point.

Rule 8, Section 3, Article 2(a) says that no Try Down occurs if the play itself will not affect the game’s outcome.  Ergo, Nebraska did not kick the one-point Try Down field goal (extra point) because no Try Down score by either team would have affected the game’s outcome (as Nebraska took a three-point lead on the final play).

So let’s assume that 10% of the roughly 90,000 people in the stadium wagered an average of $20.00 on Nebraska.  In this scenario, Rule 8, Section 3, Article 2(a) resulted in roughly $180,000.00 not being returned to those bettors.

Interesting, huh?

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6 Comments on “College Football Rules: Points After A Touchdown”

  1. Dj says:

    And in the NFL the rule is that you Have to play the try after touchdown except in Overtime. Interesting huh?

    • The DA Blog says:

      Interesting indeed; I did not know that. I suppose I need to call Clete Blakeman for a copy of the NFL rules for more light reading.

      So why do college football rules not allow players to return fumbled punts for touchdowns? Safety issue? Michigan obviously would have preferred a different rule on Saturday, and I believe Nebraska had that issue during the 19-0 loss against Arizona State in 1996.

  2. I could read that all day. 8-3-2c – does that mean you could spot the ball anywhere behind the 3 yard line? Like the 50?

    8-4-2b1 – A missed field goal from inside the 20 is like a touchback. But if the kick goes almost straight up (crosses the neutral zone and stays in the field of play) then it’s like a punt?

    • The DA Blog says:

      Spotting the ball at, say, the 19 yard line would make for an interesting SportsCenter highlight. I suppose someone could argue the offense operates more effectively inside the red zone if it is farther from the goal line. But the Try Down is only one play ……

      I believe basketball free throws can be taken from half-court if the shooter desires (or is TRYING to lose).

      I read 8-4-2b1 as the spot after a missing field goal would be the 20 or farther from the goal line: “Except in an extra period Team B will snap the ball at the previous spot unless the
      previous spot was between its 20-yard line and the goal line. In that case
      Team B will next snap the ball at its 20-yard line.”

      I, too, could read that more. Understanding the game itself just a bit makes reading the rules so much more interesting! I feel the same about Scrabble.

  3. I look forward to the weekly rules post on the da blog.

  4. […] (One guy who didn’t appear to enjoy the snow this weekend was a place-kicker who blasted his offensive lineman in the colon during a One-Point Try Down Field Goal, which I suppose the offensive lineman didn’t enjoy either.  [See this post for an explanation of the term One-Point Try Down Field Goal.] […]


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