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Andy Wittry | NCAA.com | September 11, 2018

How does college football overtime work?

It took an overtime period for Alabama to beat Georgia 26-23 in last season's national championship game at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Here's how overtime works in college football.

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  • If a game is tied at the conclusion of four quarters, it goes to overtime.
  • The officials will invite each team's captains (no more than four per team) to the 50-yard line for the overtime coin toss. The designated field captain for the visiting team will call heads or tails. The winning team of the coin toss can either decide to play offense or defense, or which end of the field will be used for both possessions of that overtime period. The decision cannot be deferred.
  • The team that loses the coin toss will execise the remaining option (e.g. If the winning team decides to play offense/defense, the losing team will decide which end of the field will be used, and vice versa). The losing team will also have the first choice of the two options for subsequent even-numbered overtime periods, while the team that wins the coin toss will get the first choice for subsequent odd-numbered overtime periods.
  • Each overtime period consists of a two-possession series with each team getting one possession on offense and one on defense. The team on offense will always start at the designated 25-yard line (unless relocated by a penalty). The team on offense can choose to start its possession with the football anywhere on or between the hash marks.
  • Each team will receive one timeout for every overtime period. Timeouts not used during regulation cannot be used during overtime and an unused timeout allotted for one overtime period cannot be carried over to another overtime period. Timeouts used between overtime periods will be charged to the succeeding period.
  • Each team retains the ball until it scores or fails to make a first down.
  • The team that scores the most points during regulation and overtime wins the game. If the game is still tied after an overtime period, there will be another overtime period.
  • Beginning with the third overtime period, teams that score a touchdown must attempt a two-point conversion.

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