5 Differences Between College Football and the NFL

If you’re into college football, you might wonder if there are any differences between college football and the NFL. This is a common mistake for many new college football bettors, initially believing there are little to no differences. While most of the game’s entire concept is untouched, the differences can be significant enough to change the game’s odds.

That said, if you do not know the differences between the two leagues, we are here to help. In this article, we will discuss some differences between college football and the NFL, both big and small. Let’s start.


It might surprise you that the NFL is much younger than college football. The first game took place more or less a hundred years ago, and it’s between two state teams, which are New Jersey and Rutgers. That was back in 1869. It’s even believed to be the first-ever football game in American history. Conversely, the NFL started in 1920, which is not so long ago compared to college football.


The NFL draft takes place during the offseason of the year. The NFL draft is where the teams can select amateur and semi-professional players to be on their team. It usually takes seven rounds. The draft is designed to boost the strength of the competitiveness between the teams in the league, allowing the worst teams to get a player that can significantly boost their playing power.

This also gives a chance for the worst teams to get the best players they think will be an excellent addition to their teams. However, there are some players that, even though they aren’t categorically stated as the best, can break the mold. The best example of this is Tom Brady. Tom Brady is now a future hall of fame in the class of 2028. It might be a surprise to you that during his draft, he was picked 199th.

On the other hand, college football has a different concept for drafting. This is because they can only pick students from their colleges or universities. A student is eligible for draft selection if he is out of high school for about three years. Usually, it was meant for seniors, but some students stay in college or universities for more than four years.

Team Size

Quality over quantity is the name of the game for college basketball. This is because since the players are students, it’s inevitable for them to graduate, which makes them not eligible to play for the team. The numbers difference between the two leagues can be staggering, though. Each NFL team only has about 53 players and 12 in their practice. College football, on the other hand, has 105 players. Some teams even have 125.

Pay Structure

NFL players have lucrative money packages and sponsorship deals. It’s common for a star player in the NFL to be worth millions, getting millions each month, even in just sponsorships alone. In short, they are paid to play, and it’s common for NFL players to jump to another team if they offer a more lucrative deal.

In college football, however, the players aren’t paid to play. However, since the NCAA changed the rules, the players can now accept sponsorship deals. While it’s not as lucrative as the NFL players are getting paid for, it’s still a sweet deal. 

On the coaches, however, it’s the opposite. The college football coaches are paid more handsomely than the NFL coaches. The theory is that the school doesn’t have to pay their athletes, which is why the money goes to the coaches instead.   

Playing Rules

Now, let’s go to the real scoop of the article: the playing rules. The NFL and college football play the same for the most part, but they have fundamental differences. Some can be trivial, and others can be significant, especially in terms of betting, like odds and  FanDuel NFL Lines.

  • In the NFL, it’s essential for a rule to be called, but in college football, it isn’t.
  • In college football, the game can’t end in a tie. It’s the same for the NFL, except in a playoff game.
  • For a pass to be completed, college football requires the player to have a foot down on the ground at least. In the NFL, it must be both of them on the ground.
  • The NFL defensive penalty holding is 5 yards, and for college football, it’s 10.
  • After the first down, the clock in college football stops. In the NFL, however, it continues.
  • And lastly, the NFL only reviews the tapes for turnovers, scoring plays, and plays during the last two minutes. For college football, all plays can be reviewed.

Final Words

Mostly, the game concept is relatively untouched, except for a few key differences. However, it can be wholly different when it comes to the league’s rules between the two, like drafting and pay structure. It makes sense, however, since the other is playing students while the other is professional. That doesn’t put one over the other, though. Both leagues are fun for fans and bettors alike.

How Predictive AI is Helping Gamblers at Their Game
How Predictive AI is Helping Gamblers at Their Game
Read More:
Other Sports,NFL