How many games does college football play?

How many games does college football play? Aug, 2 2023

The Basics: Understanding the College Football Season

Let's start with the basics. Have you ever wondered exactly how many games a college football team plays? Well, it's a good thing you stumbled onto this page today, your mate Aedan is here to make this simple yet complex matter understandable. The basic answer to that question is 12 games in a regular season. As with most things in life, it can get a tiny bit more complicated than that. The 12-game season applies to teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) - and there are quite a few of those, 130 to be precise. Each of these game days is stuffed to the brim with heart-pounding, high octane gridiron action.

But the devil is always in the details, isn't it? The actual number of games played in a college football season can vary. This fluctuation is due to a few factors such as the college’s conference, playing in championship games, and bowl eligibility. Now keep in mind, the aim isn't to perplex you, but merely to clarify what's unfolding right in front of your eyes. I promise there won't be a quiz at the end of this reading, so relax and have fun.

Breaking Down the Regular Season

The regular college football season is typically spread over 14 weeks, running from late August or early September through to late November or early December. During these fiery weeks, each team is slated to play 12 regular-season games. Football Saturdays are sacred, they're always buzzing with a heck of a lot of games. My wife Mila once commented that I spend more time watching football than I do talking to her on these days. I tried to disagree, but the facts were telling a different story!

It's also important to note that eight or nine of these games are conference games, depending on the team's particular conference. The remaining games are non-conference games. This structure allows teams room to schedule games against non-conference opponents to broaden their competitive reach beyond their regular conference opponents.

The Bowl Games: The Icing on the Cake

After the regular season, it's time for the icing on the cake, the Bowl games. These games are the college football's version of the playoffs - if you're thinking it's something like the Champions league of American football, you're not far off. If a team has won at least six games in a season, they become “bowl eligible”. But it's not as straight forward, this is college football we're talking about fellas! There are actually 42 bowl games, plus the College Football Playoff Championship Game; so, a maximum of 82 out of the 130 FBS teams may play in a bowl game. This means, if eligible and invited, a team could play in a total of 13 or 14 games in a season!

I still remember when I played for my college team, and we were just one win away from being bowl eligible. The entire team was hyped, ready to give their all. We played our hearts out. Still, unfortunately, we went down that day, but boy, was it a mighty battle, one that I'll fondly remember for the rest of my life.

Postseason Showdowns: The College Football Playoff

Then we have the renowned College Football Playoff (CFP), currently the apex of college football. It involves the top four teams in the nation battling it out in two semifinal bowl games, then the winners advancing to the CFP National Championship. It's sort of the Superbowl of college football, but with a fascinating twist. So, adding on the CFP games, potentially, a team that reaches the National Championship could play in 15 games in the season!

Now you may be thinking, "15 games, is that even allowed?" Prior to 2006, the NCAA had a rule that teams could only play a maximum of 12 games, but this rule has since been amended for the CFP. Gratefully so, because now we get to enjoy more sensational football!

The More the Merrier: Extra Games

And as if that’s not enough, there are even more games that could come into play in a team’s season. Some teams play a 'Week Zero' game one week before the official start of the season. Also, teams in the Hawaii's home conference are allowed to play an extra game to offset travel costs. Incredible right? But these are just factors that could punctuate the season of a select few teams.

Adding this all up, the typical range of games for a college football team can be anywhere between 12 to possibly 16 games per season. With so many games, college football offers a perfect cocktail of action, drama and ecstatic celebration. It's thoroughly entertaining, and addictive, isn't it?

There we have it, now you can astound your mates with your newfound knowledge of college football at your next hangout session - or at your next in-law visit. I've found Mila's dad is much more receptive when our chats are sprinkled with some good old football talk. Til next time, happy watching!