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College Football Betting 101: How to Bet on College Football

College Football Betting 101: How to Bet on College Football

There is not much else like a college football Saturday.

Wide-open offenses, mammoth-sized crowds, marching bands, shootouts, blowouts – college football provides it all.

And with 130 teams from across college football each playing 12-game schedules with conference championships, a playoff, and a 40-game bowl season to follow, the opportunity to take part in college football betting is enormous.

If you’re new to the world of college football betting or are just looking for a quick refresher, let this serve as your compass towards profitability.

NCAA Football Spread Betting

As is the case with pretty much any sport you can wager on, the most common way to do so comes through point spread betting.

Point spread betting serves as a means to “equalize” any given matchup between two teams by inserting a margin of victory the favorite will need to win by to win the bet.  This gives bettors reasons to consider betting on either team in any given matchup.

Take, for example, this hypothetical matchup with and without a point spread.

With no point spread: Akron at Clemson
With point spread: Akron (+41.5) at Clemson (-41.5)

Without a point spread in place, any bettor with a tiny amount of college football knowledge would probably bet everything they owned on Clemson to beat the Zips.  But when Clemson needs to win by 42 points or more, that changes things.

With a point spread in place, suddenly that same powerhouse Clemson team needs to win by 42 points or more, and while this is certainly an obtainable feat, it’s far less of a sure thing than picking a straight-up winner.

This is essentially why point spreads exist.

Now, one major difference between betting on college football as opposed to NFL football is that while point spread betting in professional football will seldom go above double digits, in college football it is common to see point spreads that are much larger.

Powerhouse schools like Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State often find themselves in matchups where they are favored by 30 points or more.

This is the nature of the sport of college football.

NCAA Football Moneyline Betting

While point spread betting can be a little confusing to grasp at first, especially for someone new to sports betting, moneyline betting is the simplest wager in sports betting one could make.

Instead of accounting for a points handicap, moneyline betting just asks that you bet on the side you think will win the game outright.

The lone wrinkle to moneyline betting comes in determining the amount of money you will need to wager to get your desired payout.

Here’s an example of what a couple of moneyline wagers in college football would look like:

San Jose State (+3000) vs. Ohio State (-10000)
Stanford (-160) at USC (+130)

In our first matchup, we have lowly San Jose State heading to Columbus to get paid handsomely for a beat down.  If you felt like the Buckeyes were a sure thing to win and did not want to bet on the point spread, you could wager $10,000 to win … a hundred bucks!

Of course, no one with a modicum of intelligence makes that bet.  And this is the biggest wrinkle to moneyline wagering.  If you want to bet on the surest things, the surest things are going to cost a lot.

This is where the second moneyline wagering example is a more practical approach and the moneyline route you will likely turn to more often than not.

If you believed Stanford would go on the road and win but not cover the point spread, you could bet $160 on the Stanford moneyline to win $100.

Conversely, if you felt that USC would prevail on their home-field as a slight underdog, you could risk $100 to win $130 on the moneyline.

As you may have guessed by now, moneyline wagering is a tremendous way to maximize value when you find that underdog that’s getting overlooked by everyone.

It’s also a way to go broke in a hurry if you are continually backing heavy favorites and one of them happens to fall victim to a shocking upset.

NCAA Football Totals Betting

College football totals betting is a very popular means to wager on the sport of college football for several reasons, but the biggest reason is often in direct relation to the size of point spreads in many of the matchups from across college football.

For those also new to the world of totals betting (also popularly referred to as an Over/Under bet), totals betting is where you are asked if the combined point total scored between two teams will go “Over” or “Under” a set number posted by oddsmakers.

If it sounds eerily similar to the idea of a point spread wager, that’s because it is.

Only, instead of wagering on a margin of victory, this only requires that you root for points to be scored or defense to be played.

An example of what a college football totals bet may look like at your friendly neighborhood sportsbook is as so:

Michigan (O54.5)
at Ohio State (U54.5)

If you believed the combined points total in the above Michigan-Ohio State matchup would go over 55 points, you would simply take the “O54.5”.  If you believed the total would stay under 54 combined points, you would simply take the “U54.5”.

NCAA Football Parlay Betting

A parlay bet in the most simplest term is a single wager that requires two or more teams to win their respective bet.  If any outcome in your parlay is a loss, your entire parlay bet is lost.

Because of the difficulty in correctly betting on multiple single-game wagers to come true, the payout for a winning parlay will be larger than the payout of betting each game on its own.

Parlays can encompass anywhere from two to 10 teams, but some sportsbooks will let you have upwards of 15 teams per ticket.

Remember though that the more teams in your parlay, the less likely you are to win that bet.

Don’t let this discourage you from dabbling with parlay betting though.  With the correct approach and right strategy, you can absolutely take advantage of parlay betting and turn a nice profit.

Let’s look at an example as to what some parlays in the world of college football betting may look like:

Georgia -200 / Penn State -180

LSU -6.5 / Texas +4.5

Stanford U49.5 / Oklahoma O62.5

Georgia -200 / Texas +4.5 / Oklahoma O62.5

Our first example is a standard 2-team moneyline parlay.  If Georgia and Penn State win their games straight up in this scenario, you would win your parlay.

Our second example is a standard 2-team point spread parlay.  If LSU wins by 7 points or more and Texas either wins the game outright or loses by 4 points or less, you would win this parlay.

The third example is a standard 2-team totals parlay.  Regardless of the outcome of either game, if the combined points total goes under 49.5 in the first game and above 62.5 in the second game, you would win this parlay.

The last example is a parlay with a sampling of each.  The beauty of parlays is you do not have to solely pick point spreads or totals.  You can include any combination of the three major bets into one single wager.

NCAA Football Teaser Betting

Teaser betting is very similar to parlay betting with a couple twists.

Just like parlay betting, teaser betting is a single wager that requires you to bet on two or more teams to win their respective wagers.

The twist to teaser betting is that as you are betting on a series of games, you are also able to adjust the point spread or game total by 6, 6.5 or 7 points in any direction.

Additionally, unlike a parlay bet, you cannot include a moneyline wager in a teaser.

But beyond those two wrinkles, the structure and idea of the teaser and parlay are one in the same.

Here’s an example for how a six-point teaser may look in college football:

Original Line: Florida (+3.5) vs. Georgia (-3.5) / Texas (+8.5) vs. Oklahoma (-8.5)
Teased Line: Florida (+9.5) vs. Georgia (+3.5) / Texas (+14.5) vs. Oklahoma (-2.5)

As you can see, a teaser can have a pretty noticeable impact on an original line and if you are able to identify the best games on the board to tease, you stand to gain a pretty significant edge in your handicapping when it comes to these bets.

Now because you’re buying several points across multiple matchups, the payout for a winning teaser will be much smaller than the payout of winning a parlay. Also be sure to check to see if the sportsbook you are playing at determines your teaser to be a loser in the event a game pushes.

Additionally, while we recommend teasing point spreads, we would recommend not teasing totals.  Not because you can’t win doing it, but rather because game totals have much more variance to them than a point spread would.

NCAA Football Prop Betting

If you’re a college football bettor that is looking for additional side action or an alternative to dealing with point spreads and picking totals, college football prop betting was made for you.

Proposition (‘prop’ for short) bets are bets that include anything that does not have to do with the outcome of the game.

These are bets that ask who will win the coin toss, what team will score first, how many yards passing will a quarterback have and so forth.

While the prop betting market in college football is not as popular as the prop betting market in the NFL, it is still a very popular and entertaining way to spend your Saturday.

Here are some examples of prop bets you may encounter in the world of college football betting:

  • Joe Burrow O/U 334.5 yards passing
  • Chuba Hubbard O/U 149.5 yards rushing
  • Alabama O/U 37.5 points scored
  • Will a defensive/special teams TD be scored?
  • Who will score 10 points first?

There are many other examples of prop bets from across college football that you may see, and while these bets will have a lower max limit you are able to bet on them, this market also provides the opportunity to unearth a lot of value where oddsmakers simply haven’t had enough time to do their due diligence on these more isolated bets.

NCAA Football Futures

A college football futures bet is a wager that you make on events that are set to happen in the future.  (Hence the term ‘futures’).

Do you have a strong hunch that LSU will finally get over the hump and win a National Championship?  Or that a certain player will come out of nowhere to win the Heisman?  Or maybe that a team like Boise State or Central Florida will crash the party and make the playoff?

With the college football futures market, all of these wagers are made possible.

The allure of the college football futures market (or the futures market for any respective sport) is that if you are able to properly channel your inner Nostradamus, you will be rewarded handsomely for projecting a champion or award winner months in advance.

A sampling of what preseason National Championship futures odds may look like would be like so:

Clemson +250
Ohio State +450
Alabama +500
LSU +750
Georgia +850


Minnesota +10000
USC +10000
Iowa +20000
Central Florida +30000

If you believed Ohio State would win the National Championship and you bet $100 on them to do so before the season begun, you would win a cool $450 if the Buckeyes went on to claim the Natty.

If you thought USC would string together a memorable season and return to glory, you would be rewarded $10,000 for that $100 wager if such a thing came true.



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