The Most Obscure College Football Rules

Wed, Sep 28, 2022
by CapperTek

As the talent of young college footballers grows every year, the sport is becoming increasingly more exciting. This means more interesting and questionable plays in each game.

Let’s face it, we’ve all been there. You start watching a seemingly normal college football game and then, all of a sudden, witness a game-changing move play out on your screen.

In many situations, you’ll likely understand all logistics of the play. But if you can’t place an explanation for what has happened, you may need to look toward obscure rules to understand.

While it’s always good to know about hot ncaaf picks in the league, you’ll also want to understand some of the more obscure college football rules.

Don’t Leapfrog To Block A Punt

The introduction of this rule means that no defensive players inside of the field tackle box can try to block a pass by attempting to directly leap over an opponent. This rule isn’t evoked often but it can prove to be a pretty big deal.

There are several ways to successfully block punts in college football, but players cannot leap over the opposing lineman to do so. Performing this move on the field is a swift and effective way of punishing even the best athlete.

However, performing this move is not considered to be a foul if the player then tries to leap over or through the gap made between players. It is also not a foul if the player attempts to block the play after jumping into the air without trying to leap over their opponent.

One-Point Safety Rule

The one-point safety rule can be viewed as an extension of the general safety rule. This grants the defense two points and also gives them full possession of the ball if an offensive player is tackled inside of his team's end zone.

If a defensive player gains possession of the ball while the extra point kick of the offense takes place (worth one point following a touchdown) and fails to leave the endzone before being tackled, the kicking team will receive a point.

A big reason why the one-point safety rule is viewed as being obscure is that it is very unlikely for the kicking team to make a mistake with an extra point so that the defense can secure the ball and attempt a touchdown. 

Blocking Eyes To Get A Fair Catch Rule

The rule is as follows: if the receiver of the ball shades or blocks their eyes from the sun while also trying to catch the ball, and doesn’t wave their hands around, the ball can be advanced.

It’s more common than the other obscure rules on this list. However, with a fair catch in a game of college football, many things can still go wrong! For example, the ball can be fumbled, lost, or even muffed at times. It may also be lost directly to the sun which is no good for any player!

In the NCAAF, if a player shades their eyes from the sun but doesn’t wave his hands around, it is not deemed as a fair catch. This means that the ball can be moved closer to the goal.

As a result, pulling this move could be the difference between winning and losing a game of college football.

The Mercy Rule

Mercy rules are based on a principle known as the “skunk rule.” They vary widely depending on the overall level of competition but are pretty common in youth sports.

The overall idea behind a mercy rule in college football is to end a sporting event early to prevent the humiliation of the losing team, hence the word “mercy.” Mercy rules typically take effect during a specific point in a football game (usually during the second half).

During this period, the ‘better’ team can still run up a big score before the mercy rule kicks in.

Due to the nature of the sport, the mercy rule is pretty obscure in college football. And any shortening in a football game must be a mutual agreement by the referee and the coaches.

By default, the mercy rule gives the winning team the immediate satisfaction of the win.

No Direct Snaps To Any Offensive Linemen

Simply put, this rule ensures that an offensive lineman in a game of college football cannot receive a hand-to-hand snap (the move at the start of an offensive play).

The rule works to prevent direct handoffs from a center to a lineman nearby which could prove to be the perfect recipe for the ultimate touchdown.

As far as obscure rules go, this one doesn’t make much sense considering a center passing to a right or left guard instead of a quarterback isn’t a good play. But we felt that we had to include it on this list anyway.


There are a couple of obscure college football rules that all fans of the sport must be aware of. Not only will familiarizing yourself with these rules help to simplify the college football game, but it will also provide a solid explanation for particular plays during a game.

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