How to Bet on College Football

How to Bet on College Football

With as many as 60 games in a day, college football provides more betting excitement than virtually any other sport. There are now 130 Football Bowl Subdivision (or FBS) teams and even the best CFB gamblers need help to track all the comings and goings in college football. This guide should be considered an introduction for a college football betting newbie and will even be of use to the most expert college football gamblers.

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College Football Betting Basics

Despite sharing a lot of similarities with professional football, college football still has its own unique betting features. Here you’ll find an overview of what those features are including bet types, factors affecting the game, and the important differences between NCAAF and the NFL.

What Do You Need to Know Before Betting on College Football?

College Football is over four times larger than the NFL. The sheer magnitude of the sport means that you need to do a tremendous amount of research every week in order to decide which games to bet on. Of course, it is essentially impossible to know everything about 130 different teams with massive rosters, so the most prudent thing to do is to familiarize yourself with as many teams as possible. You might want to focus on a few different conferences or specialize in Top 25-level teams, researching those teams and gaining expert level knowledge about them. These days there is nearly unlimited statistical CFB information, so if you are willing to put in the work, there is plenty to learn.

What Are the Different Ways to Bet on College Football?

By a wide margin, the most common form of college football betting is the bet against the spread. Other popular CFB bets include the moneyline bet, and over/under betting. Prop bets, where you bet on outcomes within the game, have become more popular recently, as have futures betting, which entails betting on upcoming events, and parlays, where you combine two or more bets into one larger bet, are popular forms of CFB betting.

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The Best Time to Bet on College Football

The ideal time to bet in college football games is closer to the weekend when you have a better picture of which players on the injury list might be playing. Because the players are student-athletes, college teams are less forthcoming with injury information than NFL teams are, so if a key player is questionable to play, it might be wise to wait until closer to kickoff before placing your bet.

Analyzing a Team’s Schedule

College football is arguably the sport with the single most unbalanced schedules. The better teams traditionally play eight regular season home games and just four regular season away games. Smaller conference teams often have to go on the road for seven or eight games per season, sometimes being paid to play a road game against a Power 5 conference team. It is imperative to know that not all CFB records are equal; for example Team A could be 4-0 with four wins over FCS and non-Power 5 schools, while Team B could be 3-1 having played four games against major conference teams. You should do in-depth research on who teams beat, by how much, and where they beat them, before placing a bet.

The Difference Between the Regular Season and the Bowl Season

Betting on college football bowl games is one of the most unpredictable forms of sports betting there is. For starters, you need to accurately predict which teams are actually trying to win the bowl game and which have either checked out or are focused on giving playing time to players who will feature in the following season. You need to evaluate whether each team’s coaches care about winning bowl games and which elite players might skip the game to focus on getting ready for the NFL Draft. With a regular season game you are just trying to predict who will win and by how much, with a bowl game you are trying to guess who will care and how much.

Understanding Conference Strength

It is hard to overestimate the difference in strength between the best conferences in college football and the worst FBS conferences. The ninth best team in the SEC will be objectively better than the best team in the MAC some years. You should become familiar with many of the college football advanced statistics which take conference strength and schedule strength into account in their rankings. A 7-3 team in the Mountain West is not inherently worse than a 7-3 team in the ACC but you need to put in the work and see how each of those squads got to 7-3.

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Types of CFB Bets

College football betting is most similar to NFL betting. The most common method of betting is the bet against the spread, with the other traditional wagers being the moneyline bet and the over/under, or total, bet. Increasingly popular CFB bets are the parlay bet, the pro bet, and the futures bet. Let’s explain all six of these forms of CFB betting.

Betting the Spread in College Football

The most popular bet in college football is the bet against the spread. An oddsmaker determines the spread, or line, for each CFB game. When you read the Auburn is a seven point favorite over Florida, that will generally be phrased as Auburn -7 or Florida +7. In spread betting the minus (-) symbol indicates that team is the favorite, while the plus (+) symbol denotes the underdog.

When a team is a 7 point favorite, that essentially means that the oddsmakers feel that one team is seven points better than their opponents. So, if one team is a -7 favorite and they have, for example, -110 odds, that would mean that for every $1.10 you bet on that team, you would earn a dollar if they cover the spread.

Betting the Moneyline in College Football

If your preference is betting on a team to win but you aren’t necessarily confident in how many points they will win by, then betting on the moneyline might be for you. A moneyline bet is a wager on which team will win a game, the margin of victory and final score are not relevant to the bet.

For example, instead of betting on Auburn to beat Florida as a seven point favorite, you might want to bet them to simply win the game. Florida’s moneyline for that game might hypothetically be -330. That means that you would need to wager $330 on Florida to win, in order to earn $100 in profit because they are a relatively large favorite. Alternatively, if you want to bet on Auburn to win the game, they could hypothetically be a +270 underdog. What that means is for every $100 you wager, you would win $270 in profit were Auburn were to win the game.

By betting on Florida to cover the spread, you would make just under double your initial investment if that bet is a winner. That is why some people prefer the moneyline, you can often win several times the amount of money by betting on a moneyline underdog than you would versus the spread. If you bet a large enough moneyline underdog, you can often make 400 or 500 percent profit on your wager.

Making CFB Prop Bets

College football prop bets have been rapidly increasing in popularity in recent years. A prop bet is when you bet on things that will happen surrounding the game and its players, but not on the final score or winner.

Examples of Prop Bets Include:
Will Trevor Lawrence throw for more than 300.5 yards in his next game?
Will Oklahoma run for more than 175 yards against Texas?
Which team will score first?
Which team will turn the ball over first: Stanford or USC?
Which player will have the most rushing yards in the Clemson-Miami game?
Will LSU have more or less than 4.5 sacks against Georgia?

Here’s how the above prop bet regarding the total number of sacks LSU will have in a game would work: Suppose the odds for the over on 4.5 sacks is -105 while the under odds are -125. If you were to bet on the over, a $105 wager would yield $100 in profit were you to win the bet. Were you to bet on the under of 4.5 sacks with -125 odds, you would need to put up $125 to win $100 in profit.

How Does College Football Over/Under Betting Work?

Another classic form of college football betting is the over/under bet. A bet on the over/under entails predicting how many total points will be scored in a game. The winner of the game is not relevant to an over/under bet. So, if the over/under for a Notre Dame versus Boston College game is 52.5 points, you would bet the over if you thought 53 or more points would be scored, while you would bet the under if you predict that 52 or fewer points will be scored.

The most common odds for over/under bets are -110 for each side, meaning you would be betting one dollar and ten cents for every dollar in profit you are trying to win. The odds for the over and the under are often the same, and they usually won’t move far away from -110 in either direction. However, if enough people bet the under of 52.5 points, oddsmakers might move the over odds to -108 and the under odds to -112, to try to entice more people to bet the under.

How to Make NCAAF Parlay Bets

Parlays are arguably one of the more complex types of college football wagering, but they are also one of the most fun ways to bet. A parlay bet is a bet that combines 2+ bets into one bet. There is no official limit to the number of bets you can merge into one parlay bet, you can parlay two games together or parlay ten games together. It is important to note that if you need to win every game for a parlay to be a winner, so, if you parlay eight games together and go 7-1 with your bets, you would win nothing.

Let’s assume you would like to bet on Arizona to beat Colorado as -125 favorites and BYU to beat Utah as -125 favorites. The way a parlay works is, instead of betting on both games separately, you can parlay them together and place them as one parlay bet. This way, you would be able to win more money if both bets win. Separate $100 bets on both games would earn you a combined $350.42. However, if you parlay the games together, you could earn $417.14 if both sides of the parlay won.

Betting on College Football Futures

A futures bet is a bet on an event that will take place in the future, sometimes but not always placed before a season even starts. Futures bets have become increasingly popular for people who want to bet on college football twelve months a year. The most common form of futures betting is to bet on who will win the next national championship. If you want to, you can place futures bets on any of the 130 CFB teams to win the next national title immediately after the previous season has ended. You can also place bets on who will win different conference titles or place a bet on the next Heisman Trophy winner.

Suppose the Oregon Ducks have +4000 odds to win the next national championship. That means that for every dollar you bet, you would win forty dollars if Oregon wins the title. The CFB favorite will generally have odds of approximately +300, while longshots like New Mexico or Rice might have +10000 odds.

Futures betting has become so prevalent because it presents chances to win huge amounts of money on one bet. Betting a CFB moneyline, even a large underdog might only offer a return of three or four dollars for every dollar you bet on them. With futures betting, virtual every team might have higher odds than that to win the championship.

NCAAF Betting FAQs

The most popular form of college football betting is the bet against the spread, followed by the moneyline bet, over/under bets, prop bets, futures bets, and parlays.

The most popular time to place a college football bet is the morning of the game. Waiting allows you to account for any potential injury news or other late-breaking information that might affect your bet.

There are 19 states where it is legal to bet on college football. There are four more states, plus Washington D.C., where betting is legal but not operational yet. There are two dozen more states on the path to legalizing sports betting, while only three states have not yet moved towards legalizing sports betting. You can view the full list of states with legal CFB betting here.

In college football betting, the underdog will be listed with a plus (+) symbol next to its name. If an underdog has +150 moneyline odds, that would mean that for every dollar you bet on them, you would win $1.50 in profit if they won the game.

The college football bowl schedule is usually determined in the middle of December. Bowl games take place throughout December, with a number of games on January 1st and several more games usually taking place the first week of January. The college football playoff matchups are generally determined about three weeks before the game, giving you ample opportunity to bet on the games. The CFB title game will often take place more than a week after the semifinal matchups.

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