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On the surface, college football and the NFL may seem like the same game with different teams. But there are some subtle differences that really give the two leagues separation. Here are some of the most notable differences.


The fan bases are quite different and vary in size. College games are an event, housing up to 100,000 every Saturday depending on the size of the stadium. Moreover, fans of the team are oftentimes those who went to the school, creating generations of support for a school depending on the family.

The NFL, meanwhile, tends to be known for its colorful characters depending on the team. The fans are passionate in both arenas, varying in subtle ways. The cost of getting into a game in either venue has sky-rocketed in recent years, making it one of the most popular tickets in town regardless of the team or sport.

Playoff Systems

This is perhaps the biggest difference. In the NFL, 14 teams make the playoffs each season. It is not uncommon for teams with a 9-7 or even 8-8 record to make it to the postseason. Even the “bad” teams can be in it until the final week.

In College Football, just four make it to the College Football Playoff. Conversely, you won’t find a team with an 8-8 record in the playoffs. In college, one or two losses can be enough to submarine even the most successful of playoff pushes.


The skill level is higher in the NFL and it’s not close. That is because they take the best from college football each year to fill their ranks. There is no better league on the planet than the NFL for a reason.

That said, college is different in the roles that players have. In college, players can play multiple facets of the game. Moreover, you can find someone who could not even get a scholarship who “walks on” and makes a huge impact for the team over four years.