Why are there two bye weeks during the 2024 college football season?

By Kevin Kelley -

It’s schedule release season, that time of the year when college football fans start looking forward to next season and planning their road trips.

For the first time since the 2019 season, the college football schedule in 2024 will offer a gift, or curse to some, that only comes around every so often. That gift? An extra bye week on the schedule for every Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team.

Why are there two bye weeks next season? That’s due to NCAA bylaws and the calendar.

Under NCAA Bylaw 17.11.4, FBS football teams may not play their first game of the season prior to the Thursday preceding Labor Day. For the 2024 season, the Thursday preceding Labor Day is August 29, which will be the official start of Week 1.

Due to the calendar in 2024, which has an earlier Labor Day (September 2), the period beginning with Labor Day weekend and ending with the last Saturday in November will contain 14 Saturdays to play 12 games. That leaves two bye weeks for each team during the 2024 season, and it will happen again in 2025 as well.

Here’s how a typical schedule will look in 2024 using only Saturdays:

  • Aug. 31 – Week 1 (Labor Day weekend)
  • Sept. 7 – Week 2
  • Sept. 14 – Week 3
  • Sept. 21 – Week 4
  • Sept. 28 – Week 5
  • Oct. 5 – Week 6
  • Oct. 12 – Week 7
  • Oct. 19 – Week 8
  • Oct. 26 – Week 9
  • Nov. 2 – Week 10
  • Nov. 9 – Week 11
  • Nov. 16 – Week 12
  • Nov. 23 – Week 13
  • Nov. 30 – Week 14 (Thanksgiving weekend)

A few teams could even have a third open date if they begin the 2024 season in Week Zero, which is the unofficial name for games played the Saturday prior to Labor Day weekend. Beginning in 2016, an exception to this rule was added (Bylaw 17.11.4.1) that allows Hawaii and teams that play in Hawaii, plus their opponents, the option to play one week earlier on the Saturday before Labor Day weekend.

A second exception, Bylaw 17.11.4.2, provides FCS schools with another opportunity to play in Week Zero if the game is against a non-conference opponent and nationally televised. A third exception, Bylaw 17.11.4.3, provides schools the opportunity to play in Week Zero if the contest is played in a foreign country.

And lest we forget, if Hawaii or a team that plays Hawaii in 2024 schedules an extra game due to the Hawaii Exemption, their number of bye dates will be affected by when they kickoff the season.

To summarize, most FBS college football teams will play 12 games and will have two bye weeks in 2024 and 2025 due to the calendar. What about FCS teams? Most FCS teams will schedule a 12th game both seasons and have their usual one bye week.

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