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Daniel Wilco | | September 10, 2022

The longest overtime games in FBS college football history

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Illinois and Penn State made college football history with the Illini's 20-18 win in a nine-overtime thriller on Oct. 23, 2021. It became the first and is the only game in FBS history to go nine overtimes, capped off by an Illini game-winning two-point conversion to upset the No. 7 Nittany Lions.

The game remained low scoring despite the abundance of overtimes because teams exchanged field goals and later missed or made two-point conversion attempts. It was 10-10 through four quarters, 13-13 after the first OT and 16-16 after the second. In the new rule instituted before the 2021 season, teams must alternate two-point conversion attempts starting with the third extra period.

Both the Nittany Lions and Illini failed on their attempts in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh overtime periods. They finally converted in the eighth, before an Illini stop in the ninth set the stage for the game-winning conversion.

MORE: Illinois stuns No. 7 Penn State, wins first 9OT game in history

Previously, in 2019, LSU and Texas A&M tied the old record of seven overtimes with the Aggies' 74-72, 7OT victory on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018.

In 2017, Western Michigan and Buffalo played a game that kicked off at 3:30 p.m. and didn’t finish until after 8 that night. The two teams needed seven overtimes to decide a winner.

RELATED: How overtime works in college football

The NCAA adopted an overtime rule in 1996. Since then, seven games have gone to seven or more overtimes, with the first coming in 2001.

For most of those games, the overtime rules have been virtually the same.

  • An overtime period consists of each team getting one possession from its opponent’s 25-yard line.
  • There is no game clock, only a play clock.
  • Starting with the third overtime, teams must attempt a 2-point conversion after every touchdown.

However, in 2019, the overtime rules were changed.

  • Starting with the fifth overtime, teams will begin to run alternating two-point conversion plays instead of offensive possessions that start at the 25-yard line.

In 2021, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a change to overtime rules again.

  • Teams will be required to run a 2-point conversion play after a touchdown when a game reaches a second overtime period. Previously, a 2-point attempt was required after the third overtime period.
  • Also established in 2021, if the game reaches a third overtime, teams will run alternating 2-point plays, instead of starting another drive at the opponent’s 25-yard line. This is a change from the previous rule, which started to use 2-point plays in the fifth overtime period.

MORE: Highest scoring college football games across FBS, FCS, DII, and DIII

Here's a recap of each of the seven-or-more overtime games in FBS history:

September 10, 2022 — Eastern Kentucky 59, Bowling Green 57

FCS program Eastern Kentucky and FBS program Bowling Green were tied 38-38 through four quarters. Then, seven overtimes later, Eastern Kentucky knocked off Bowling Green, landing an FCS-over-FBS upset. Both teams scored touchdowns in the first overtime, repeating the feat in the second overtime, only for each team to fail on its two-point conversion try. Per the rules, both teams converted their third and fourth overtime drives with two-point conversions, tying the game 55-55. In the fifth overtime, both teams failed to score, leading to the sixth overtime, where each team found the endzone to make the score 57-57.

In the seventh overtime, Bowling Green possessed the ball first, but a pass from quarterback Matt McDonald failed. Eastern Kentucky got the ball with a chance to win, and quarterback Parker McKinney found Braedon Sloan for the game-winning score, giving the Colonels the 59-57 win.

October 23, 2021 —Illinois 20, Penn State 18

After tying 10-10 through four quarters, Illinois upset No. 7 Penn State, 20-18 in nine overtimes, becoming the first game to ever reach the nine-overtime mark. Tied 18-18 in the ninth extra period, Illinois' defense broke up a pass from Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford. In the responding possession, Illinois quarterback Brandon Peters found wide receiver Casey Washington in the end zone, scoring a game-winning two-point conversion.

The score marked the end to the game with the most overtimes in history.

November 24, 2018 —Texas A&M 74, LSU 72

After tying 31-31 through four quarters, Texas A&M upset No. 7 LSU, 74-72, to break a seven-game losing streak to LSU.Kellen Mond found found Quartney Davis for a 17-yard touchdown to tie the score at 74. Needing to go for two, Aggies quarterback Mond hit Kendrick Rogers for the winning points.

It became only the fifth game in FBS history to reach seven overtimes. The walk-off score also set a record, becoming the highest-scoring game in FBS history.

October 7, 2017 — Western Michigan 71, Buffalo 68

Field goals played a huge role in this game as well. With 34 seconds left in regulation, Buffalo’s Adam Mitcheson drilled a 34-yarder to tie the game 31-31. On the next drive, Western Michigan set up a buzzer-beating 52-yarder to take the lead, but it was blocked, and the game went to overtime.

There, both teams traded touchdowns in the first two overtimes before Western Michigan recovered a fumble to set up a 29-yard field goal attempt for the win. But after Buffalo iced the kicker, the potential game-winner sailed right.

Four overtimes later, Buffalo was forced to settle for a field goal, and Western Michigan’s Jarvion Franklin rushed for his third touchdown (on his 37th carry) to seal the win.

October 7, 2006 — North Texas 25, FIU, 22

This game was slightly different than the seven-overtime thrillers that came before it. 

Coming into the game, North Texas was the only Division I-A team that had not played an overtime game since the NCAA adopted an overtime in 1996.

In case that final score for a seven-overtime game wasn’t weird enough, North Texas led 5-0 at halftime, after a field goal and safety.

The Mean Green scored 11 points in the fourth quarter to take a 16-13 lead before Florida International kicked a 28-yard field goal with two seconds left to send the game to overtime. 

Neither team could score a touchdown in overtime, and missed four field goals each in overtime, before a 34-yarder from Denis Hopovac — his fifth made field goal of the night on  a record nine attempts — connected to give North Texas the win.

November 1, 2003 — Arkansas 71, Kentucky 63

The Razorbacks of the early 2000s had a nose for ridiculously long games. A year after their record-breaking seven-overtime game, Arkansas went to six overtimes against Tennessee in 2002, losing 41-38.

Then, in 2003, Arkansas faced Kentucky in a game that started on November 1, but ended on November 2.

In the first half, both teams returned blocked punts for touchdowns, but Arkansas led 21-7 at halftime. The Wildcats would tie the game up with 1:39 left to play.

The two teams combined for 86 points in overtime, but after four hours and 56 minutes of play, Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen was hit hard and fumbled, and Arkansas won its second seven-overtime game.

November 3, 2001 — Arkansas 58, Ole Miss 56

With five minutes left in regulation, Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning — in his first year as a starter — connected with Jason Armstead for a four-yard touchdown, and the ensuing extra point tied the game at 17.

In the first overtime, faced with a fourth-and-one, Arkansas decided to go for the conversion, rather than kick a field goal, and Cedric Cobbs broke free for a 16-yard touchdown. Manning connected with Armstead again to equalize.

In the second overtime, Ole Miss got the ball first, but Arkansas forced and recovered a fumble, and they just needed to kick a field goal to win, but the try went wide right.

The teams traded touchdowns in the third, fourth, and fifth overtime periods, but neither could convert their two-point attempts. In the sixth, they each scored again, and managed to convert. Finally, in the seventh, Ole Miss’ two-point attempt to tie the game at 58 was stopped short of the goal line, and the game was over.

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