Americans love watching two sports; the NFL and College football. It is ironic how one sport is so different from the other on multiple levels.
From scheduling to rosters to the number of teams and rules, there are several disparities. However, the only thing constant is the passion and support of the fans.

It can be overwhelming for an NFL fan or a football fan, in general, to grasp the elements of college football. Multiple conferences, Big 10 and Big 12, different playing kits, the importance of finishing in the top four, determining the national champion, and much more.

These aspects are covered in the following section.


Number of Conferences

The NFL has 32 teams in the league, while there are 124 teams in only FBS Division 1. College football is divided into three divisions, and each division is further split up into conferences. The most prominent is Division 1, with 10 conferences.

In addition to the size and stature of a college, these conferences are usually determined by the area in which that college is located. Independent colleges, however, play without a conference and are therefore known as such.


There are four independent college teams in Division 1, Notre Dame, Brigham Young University, Army, and Navy. The conferences spread across the U.S. are as follows.

  1. American Athletic Conference 
  2. Atlantic Coast Conference 
  3. Big Ten Conference
  4. Big 12 Conference 
  5. Conference USA 
  6. Mid-American Conference 
  7. Mountain West Conference 
  8. PAC 12 conference 
  9. Southeastern Conference 
  10. Sun Belt Conference

Five out of these are the major conferences that attract the top athletes from the country and grab the most attention.

Fans are also interested in their NCAAF odds as they offer good returns.


Schedule of Matches

Photo: Emma Dau/Unsplash

There are two types of games, conference games, and non-conference games. Conference games are scheduled between teams from the same conference. The non-conference games are scheduled against teams from other conferences. 

Most conference leagues are eight games based on home and away schedules. Teams play four games at home and four on the road. Teams of PAC 12 play nine conference games. Some years they get four matches at home and sometimes five.

Non-conference games are scheduled by colleges themselves. The idea behind these matches is to gain exposure and make money. Teams mutually decide on non-conference games.


The Ranking System of College Football

This is where things get interesting. It is an orthodox method of ranking teams as they are not ranked based on the games. Instead, polls are taken by FBS coaches and media members. Teams are ranked speculatively according to their performance in the previous season, their talent return to the team, and their potential incoming players.

Some may not agree with this system, but it will remain until the end of the 2026 season. In order to ensure fairness, the pollsters re-rank the teams every week, considering the previous week’s results. Generally, teams that are ranked and win maintain their position or move up due to the loss of a higher-ranked squad.


Post-Season Matches

Finishing at the top in the respective conference is crucial for all the teams. To play a bowl game is an honor for the schools and coaches and gives them a chance of winning handsome prize money.

All FBS teams with six wins are eligible for the bowl games. There are 35 bowl matches, and the most prestigious of all is the BCS National Championship. Four top teams compete in the semifinals, and the winners face off in the championship game to be crowned the BCS Champion.

There is a Sugar Bowl between the winners of the SEC conference and the Big 12 conference. The same committee that ranks the teams selects other remaining bowl games. 


At the end of the regular season, there are around 30 bowl games that are played in December and January.

Featured Image: Emma Dau/Unsplash
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