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Faster pace making college games longer

Here’s the irony.

The faster college football has become, the slower it gets.

Offenses are increasingly trying to quicken the pace of play, rushing to the line of scrimmage to snap the ball before defenses can adjust. The tactic has resulted in longer games because the quicker drives equate to more possessions which equate to more TV breaks.

And it’s a problem.

One of the reasons the NFL is wildly popular is because fans can plan their time around a three-hour game, and barring overtime, it’s likely not going much past that if at all.

The NCAA put in new timing rules in 2008 to shorten the college game, and they worked initially. The average length of games that season was 3 hours, 11 minutes, according to Stats LLC.

Now games regularly last 3½ hours, and it’s not unheard of to hit four hours.

That’s bad for fans, who lose interest if a game drags. And it’s bad for players because it increases the risk of injury.

College football needs to follow the NFL model and not stop the clock for first downs, except in the final two minutes. A shorter halftime would work as well. If a 12-minute break is good enough for professional players, no reason why it needs to be 20 minutes at the college level.

There will be resistance because many college fans like the differences between the pros and the amateurs, but as long as teams continue to quicken the pace, changes need to be made for the good of the game.

* AROUND THE NATION — With Alabama coming off a 38-10 victory over constantly overrated Georgia, Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban is getting chesty again. He lashed out at the media for having the Tide “6 feet under” following their loss to Mississippi two weeks ago. “It really doesn’t matter what you think,” Saban said. “It really doesn’t matter what you say, and I’m hoping that nobody on our team is playing for you. I hope they’re playing for each other and their team and what they want to accomplish and not what you think.” Well, OK, then. … National radio host Colin Cowherd made a great point Monday that Texas coach Charlie Strong’s case to stay on the job isn’t helped by the short turnarounds being performed by Florida’s Jim McElwain and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh. That said, ESPN.com reported that Texas and the boosters remain supportive of Strong. Patience, though, lasts only so long at Texas. … Michigan has shut out its past two opponents, beating Brigham Young 31-0 and Maryland 28-0. The last team to score on the Wolverines? UNLV in the fourth quarter on Sept. 19. After giving up 24 points in the season opener at Utah, Michigan has allowed a total of 14 points in the four games since.

* AROUND THE MOUNTAIN WEST — Two UNLV players were named Mountain West players of the week. Linebacker Ryan McAleenan (defense) and punter Logan Yunker (special teams) were honored for their play in Saturday’s 23-17 victory at UNR. McAleenan made the play of the game with a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, and Yunker pinned the Wolf Pack inside their 7-yard line three consecutive times in the second quarter. This is the first time since Sept. 30, 2013, that two Rebels have been honored by the league, when Yunker and wide receiver Devante Davis were singled out. … UNR coach Brian Polian told the Reno Gazette-Journal his team couldn’t afford to let the loss to the Rebels linger. “We have a lot of football left,” he said. “We can’t let UNLV beat us twice.” … New Mexico has won back-to-back games for the first time since 2012. The Lobos, who play at UNR on Saturday, are seeking their first three-game winning streak since 2007.

* MY FINAL FOUR — I vote in the Sweet 16 Poll organized by the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation.

Here is my top four:

1. Baylor. This team is playing with an edge, and don’t expect the Bears to let up.

2. Ohio State. The Buckeyes are playing well enough to win each week, but they must up their play if they hope to repeat as national champions.

3. Texas Christian. Sad thing is Baylor-TCU loser later in the season probably will fall out of final four, and both deserve to be in it if they keep winning.

4. Utah. Good thing for the Utes they joined the Pac-12 Conference. Hard to imagine them being taken seriously by the playoff committee if the Utes were still in the Mountain West.

* HEISMAN ODDS — Handicapper Bruce Marshall (goldsheet.com) provides Heisman Trophy odds each week:

Leonard Fournette, Louisiana State 2-1

Trevone Boykin, TCU 3-1

Nick Chubb, Georgia 7-1

Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma 10-1

Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State 11-1

Jared Goff, California 12-1

Connor Cook, Michigan State 15-1

Cody Kessler, Southern California 18-1

Dak Prescott, Mississippi State 18-1

Keenan Reynolds, Navy 20-1

Deshaun Watson, Clemson 20-1

Derrick Henry, Alabama 22-1

Seth Russell, Baylor 25-1

Kevin Hogan, Stanford 30-1

Cardale Jones, Ohio State 30-1

Jacoby Brissett, North Carolina State 40-1

Greg Ward Jr., Houston 40-1

Everett Golson, Florida State 45-1

Paul Perkins, UCLA 45-1

Matt Johnson, Bowling Green 50-1

Paxton Lynch, Memphis 50-1

Robert Nkemdiche, Mississippi 50-1

Josh Doctson, TCU 60-1

Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech 75-1

Brandon Doughty, Western Kentucky 75-1

Corey Coleman, Baylor 100-1

DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame 100-1

C.J. Prosise, Notre Dame 100-1

Contact Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65. He is first vice president of the Football Writers Association of America.

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