Just over three weeks into its inaugural season, the new USFL is shifting into a higher gear — for two quarters, at least. Mike Pereira, the spring league’s head of officiating, announced Thursday that starting in Week 4, the USFL will utilize a running clock after incomplete passes during the first and third quarters. The sudden change is meant to shorten the average length of each game, keeping the action under three hours.
“We believe this change will achieve the desired game length,” Pereira said, “while still providing the number of plays you’ve come to expect in a professional football game.”
The adjustment won’t affect end-of-half situations, since it’ll be limited to the first and third quarters. It also stems in part from USFL fan feedback, per Pereira. The average NFL game, for comparison, lasts just over three hours.
The USFL (United States Football League) is an eight-team startup that began play in April. While it shares the same name as the USFL that operated for three seasons in the 1980s, the two leagues are not officially associated. CBS Sports’ Tyler Sullivan ranks the Birmingham Stallions (3-0) as the top team in the league after three weeks, while Week 4 kicks off Friday night when the Michigan Panthers host the Philadelphia Stars.