Moving the Ball + Lunch

Okay, now we’re getting into the “meat” of the game.

You know how points are scored, how to tailgate, and how to dress.

You know the point of the game is to score more points than the other team, whether that happens offensively or defensively.

But how does the game work?

What are all those “downs” anyways?

Those are the questions I asked when I first started watching.

Once you know this – the games will be much easier and more fun to watch!


Each time either team’s offense comes onto the field, their goal is to get to the end zone – eventually.

At the beginning of their possession of the ball, they have 4 chances/plays or downs to move 10 yards.

If they make the ten yards needed within four downs, they are given a new set of downs. This is called getting a first down.

First down = first try to move the ball. So, typically, the first down will be called “first and ten”.

If they don’t make it the required ten yards, the other team’s offense takes possession of the ball.


Here’s an example:

The first play of an offensive possession is called first-and-ten because it is the first down and ten yards are needed to get a new set of four downs.

Suppose on the first play, the team on offense picks up three yards. The next play would then be second-and-seven, because it is the second play and they still need seven yards to get a new first down.

If they were to get six yards on the second play it would leave them one yard shy of the first down marker, therefore setting up a third-and-one. Third-and-one because it would be the third play of the series and they would still need one yard to get a first down.

If the team with the ball can pick up one yard or more on the third-down play, then they will be given a first down, which means they get to start all over with a new set of four downs.

A team can continue moving the football down the field as long as they continue to pick up first downs.

Got it?

If you start getting this, the rest of the game will fall into place.


Now what if the team doesn’t get a new first down?

If a team does not gain the required yardage on third down, several things could happen on fourth down:

1. A team can elect to "go for it" on fourth down and try to pick up the remaining yardage. This is an okay option, but they run the risk of possibly turning the ball over to the other team if they don’t get to the first down marker.

PLUS, if they do not get the required yardage, the other team takes possession of the ball at the spot of the last tackle and now has four downs to move ten yards back in the other direction.

So  – if a team “goes for it” on 4th and they’re on the 50 yard line and they don’t get their first down, the other team takes over at the 50 yard line, giving them good field position to begin with. In these situations, field position and/or the time left in the game dictate when a team decides to “go for it” on 4th.

2. Most often, a team will elect to "punt" the ball away to the other team on fourth down. A punt just means they kick the ball to the other team, hoping to give them bad starting field position. However, the team receiving the punt has the option to run the ball once it’s caught to get better field position.


3. Another option is to kick a field goal. If a team is close enough to kick the ball between the upright bars of the goal post in their opponent’s endzone, they can kick a field goal, which is worth three points.


Is that enough football talk?  :)  I – love – it.

Since this post was all words and no fun pictures, I at least thought would throw in my lunch photos for those of you that don’t care about football ;)

I brought the last of the butternut/mushroom risotto


some leftover broccoli + peas


and some zucchini + hummus to liven things up a bit.



Great games on the schedule this weekend!

12:00 PM ET
Boston College at No. 5 Virginia Tech

12:00 PM ET
No. 17 Auburn at Arkansas

3:30 PM ET
No. 3 Alabama at No. 20 Mississippi

3:30 PM ET
Wisconsin at No. 9 Ohio State

3:30 PM ET
Baylor at No. 19 Oklahoma

7:15 PM ET
Colorado at No. 2 Texas

8:00 PM ET
No. 1 Florida at No. 4 LSU

8:00 PM ET
No. 22 Georgia Tech at Florida State

8:05 PM ET
Michigan at No. 12 Iowa


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  1. I actually knew that! I didn’t loose all of my football knowledge ;)

    Your ristotto looks SERIOUSLY good! What a great lunch!

  2. Thanks for the football lesson, you write your explanation in a way that’s easy to understand. My husband will appreciate it too, as I won’t have to ask so many questions during the game.

    Oh I wish I was going to the Iowa/Mich game, it’s a big one! Oh well, go Hawks!

  3. Yummy risotto!

    I watch football and once I think I understand it, I realize I don’t. I just fake it ;)

  4. Hi Brandi

    You didn’t ask for my picks
    (highlight of my Friday)
    Virginia Tech
    3 Alabama
    Ohio State
    Georgia Tech

    Have a great weekend!

  5. mmm that risotto looks incredible. again, skipped over the football :P

  6. This seriously might have been one of the single most enlightening blog posts I’ve read… I actually feel like I sort of understand football! Yeah! Now I just need to watch a game to see if I “get it” more. :)

    Risotto looks awesome… I’m having butternut squash today too… super tasty! But looks a little boring compared to yours. :)

  7. I will reread and reread this post until i get it! You are so knowledgeable!!! Thanks girl! :)

  8. That risotto looks great!
    Virginia Tech
    Ohio State
    Georgia Tech

  9. Can I just say I love your football posts? It gets me so excited for the weekend games!

    • Thanks so much!!! I love writing them, so I hope people love reading them! It’s fun and it gets ME excited too!

  10. Crossing my fingers for another Iowa win for their homecoming game!!!! EEEEEEK!!!

  11. I absolutely love that you post about football!

    Unfortunately, I didn’t go to a college with a good team, so my football obsession comes in the form of the NFL. I’m a huge Eagles fan!

    My boyfriend is a Penn State fan though, so I definitely enjoy watching those games with him. Football is seriously one of the many reasons why I love fall. Once I bring the Eagles jerseys and t-shirts out, I know that we’re heading into one of my favorite seasons. :)

  12. You are right that the downs is key to understanding. It helped immensely once my friend finally explained that.

    BTW I love your hummus. TJ’s makes the best and I actually like it more than Sabra…Gasp!

  13. I love that you love football as much as I do! So fun :)

  14. Virginia Tech
    Ohio State
    Florida State

  15. i wish i could say i love football, but the jocks traumatized my marching band geek butt so much i just don’t think it’ll ever happen…

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