Do College Football Teams Switch Sides At Halftime?

Depending on the league, the rules change in sports. One question many fans ask is if the teams switch sides at halftime in college football games. 

Do College Football Teams Switch Sides At Halftime 1 2

Do College Football Teams Switch Sides At Halftime?

Yes, college football teams do switch sides at halftime. They also switch sides after the first and third quarters end, based on which side the team wins or loses the toss picks. The coin toss determines which side each team will be on every quarter. 

 So many fans look forward to college football games for the entertaining performances by marching bands and specialty teams, plus opportunities to grab a snack or drink and sit in the stands for a few minutes. This guide will explain the college football rules and whether college football teams switch sides at halftime. 

This is a talking point from a tactical standpoint. When games are played in cold and windy conditions, how a team drives down the field toward the end zone matters. It’s most relevant when a lot of wind impacts the place-kicking game. 

There is a delay at the end of each quarter for the teams to change sides. There is also a 10-15 minute break at halftime, and the teams will switch sides again.

We don’t notice the change on TV like we do at the end of the quarter because they take a longer break. But this is a crucial rule to keep in mind because it can directly impact strategy, kicking, and passing. 

Why Do College Football Teams Switch Sides At Halftime? 

Do College Football Teams Switch Sides At Halftime 2

The primary reason why teams switch sides at halftime during college football games is to eliminate any advantage. Windy conditions can create an advantage for one team during outdoor football games.

A team can gain a kicking advantage if the wind blows in one direction. By switching sides, each team plays on both sides for the same length. 

The NFL was the first league to create this rule in 1920. It has been in place ever since. 

This is the fairest method for college football and NFL games. Other than the weather, there are no other significant reasons why this happens. 

College Football Rules Explained: When Do They Switch Sides? 

Do College Football Teams Switch Sides At Halftime 1 3

There are various rules to remember about teams switching sides in college football. This is not an arbitrary rule, and it’s extremely calculated based on other events in the game.

This means we also should explain the coin toss, the start of the game, the end of each quarter, and overtime rules and how they relate to why teams switch at halftime. 

Coin Toss

The referee conducts a coin toss before the opening kickoff to determine which team receives possession first. 

The winner can choose which direction their team will kick off from or whether they would like their offense to take ball possession first or second half.

The team who wins the coin toss often elects to defer to receive the ball after half. This means the other team chooses which side they want to kick towards. The side they choose can be for the 1st and 4th quarters or the 2nd and 3rd. 

Start Of The Game

Teams exchange for ball possession at the beginning of the first and third quarters, according to whichever team won the coin toss. 

The team that wins the coin toss can decide how the game will start. Most teams elect to kick first so that they can receive the ball first after halftime.

This means they will kick the ball to the other team, but the side they kick toward will depend on the other team’s choice. 

End Of Each Quarter

Do College Football Teams Switch Sides At Halftime 3

Teams switch sides of the field at the end of each quarter, and a brief break occurs. During this break, players can stretch, discuss strategy with coaches, or take a quick breather. 

After the second quarter, there is a break for halftime. After the break, play resumes where it left off at the end of the previous quarter. After the fourth quarter, the game either ends or goes overtime. 


The NCAA rules state that halftime should be 20 minutes during every college football game. At halftime, each team goes to its respective locker room, switching sides to start the third quarter. 

However, each school can mutually agree to shorten the length of halftime to resume play faster. This is rare, especially at the highest level in major conference college football games. 

Halftime show at the University of Georgia
Halftime show at the University of Georgia


In overtime, the teams do another coin toss where the winning team decides who gets the ball first, and the losing team decides which way they kick. 

College football differs from the NFL, and the games start on the 25-yard line. This means there is no kickoff, but the teams still choose the side depending on the coin toss result. 

Do NFL Teams Switch Sides At Halftime?

NFL teams use the same rules as college when switching sides. The teams will change after every quarter, including at halftime. 

They were the first league to introduce this rule in 1920. It has been enforced ever since, and today the teams still use it, impacting games played in windy conditions, rain, or snow. 

Key Takeaways

  • Yes, college football teams switch sides at halftime because the rule is to switch every quarter. After halftime, the third quarter begins, so the sides get switched from what they were in the second quarter. 
  • The NFL team introduced this rule and switched sides at halftime during games today. 
  • College football teams switch sides at halftime due to fair play. The idea is to create a level playing field when games are played in bad weather with high winds. 
  • The coin toss is when the team chooses which way they want to kick toward. After this is decided, the teams alternate and switch sides each quarter. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *