Kickoffs will definitely be different in college football starting in 2018.
Friday, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved proposed changes to the touchback rule on kickoffs. As outlined in the proposal in March, players will be allowed to fair catch any kickoff inside the 25-yard-line and the ball will be placed at the 25 like a touchback. Previously a fair catch at any point on the field meant the offense took possession at the site of the fair catch.
If a player catches a kickoff in the end zone and downs the ball, the offense will start at the 25.
The change to the definition of a touchback is designed to reduce the number of kickoff returns in the name of player safety as kickoffs are some of the most dangerous plays in football. It comes six years after kickoffs were moved up five yards to the kicking team’s 35-yard-line and the touchback starting spot was moved from the 20 to the 25.
Other rule changes for 2018 include the banning of blocks below the waist by any player more than five yards down the field. The play clock will also be immediately set and started at 40 seconds for all point-after attempts and possessions beginning after kickoffs in an attempt to speed up the pace of play.
A 10-second runoff has also been approved on replay reviews inside of one minute in certain situations. If a replay overturns the call on the field and the call means the clock would have continued to run (like if a runner was down in the field of play), a 10-second runoff will be applied after the changed call.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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