Anyone with even a passing interest in the great sport of football will be aware of the importance of college division games. College football is as American as apple pie, the Statue of Liberty, and freedom fries. Although it doesn't get as much airtime internationally as the NFL, college football is, in many respects, more important and more widely followed in America than its professional counterpart.
130 teams (and counting) and more than $4 billion in revenue is generated by Division I of the NCAAF every single year. College football is one of the globe's most formidable sporting institutions in its own right, with the games attracting 400 million viewers every season. Who can argue with numbers like that?
Although you probably follow college football to a certain extent, you might not have decided to wager on a game yet. Maybe you've placed a bet on sports in the past or even wagered on an NFL game once or twice. While this is all good stuff to prepare you for the dizzying world of NCAAF betting, it's worth saying right now that college football betting is a totally different ball game.
That's why anyone wanting to get a piece of the action should make sure they're familiar with the ins and outs of college football betting. Fortunately, you've come to exactly the right place. Check out our extremely thorough guide on how to bet on college football, and how to get the most bang for your buck on game day.
You can't bet on college football without, well, making a bet. Of course, you'll need to know the rules of play before you begin. If you've ever placed a bet on the NFL, you'll probably know most of this stuff already. If you've never wagered on football or on any US sports markets before, now is the time to grab your notepad and start scribbling. Here's everything you need to know about odds and bets in the NCAAF.
Much like in other sports, most bets in college football are made on the point spread. "What's the point spread?", I hear you ask. This is when the sportsbook gives one team (the favorite) a "handicap", in order to even out the risk and encourage us to make bets evenly, rather than having everyone bet on the favorite, which would be pretty boring.
Let's illustrate what we mean with some example odds. Say Florida State is playing Miami:
Florida State: -6.5 (-110)
Miami: +6.5 (+110)
The "spread" in this example game (one of the hottest college football rivalries in history, BTW) is 6.5. This means that Florida State has to win by at least 6.5 points, or Miami has to lose by at least 6.5 points, in order for the bet to pay out. The "110" means that bettors on each side of the aisle would need to wager $110 in order to win $100 on these odds.
So, if you were to wager $100 on Florida State and they won by 7 points, you would receive a not-too-shabby $190 payout. Meanwhile, anyone betting on Miami would need the team to either win the game outright or lose by less than 7 points. Are you still with me?
Next up is the Moneyline. Although not as popular as spread betting, it is definitely one of the easiest ways to bet, making it ideal for newbies to college football. With any Moneyline bet, the goal is to pick the outright winner of the game. That's it. Finito.
Of course, the sportsbook will account for any team's advantage by assigning different odds to each side. By doing this, anyone who successfully bets on the underdog will always get a higher payout than the person who went with the crowd and wagered on the favorite. When you bet on the hot ticket and win, your payout will be much smaller.
While this sounds similar to spread betting, the key difference to remember is that the actual margin of victory does not play any role in the payout. All that matters is who wins and who loses.
Let's go back to our old Florida State vs Miami rivalry for a second. Let's say they have a game coming up and a top sportsbook is posting the Moneyline odds as follows:
Florida State: -225
In this case, it's clear that Florida State has had a good season, as the odds indicate it to be the favorite to win by a wide margin. In order to make the betting more even, the Moneyline has been adjusted to reflect this. The "-" sign here indicates how much you would need to risk in order to win $100 in profit from a straight-up bet ($225 in this case).
Meanwhile, the "+" sign next to Miami shows how much you would get in pure profit if you wagered $100 ($185 in this case). This way, there is an incentive for anyone who isn't already a Miami supporter (we know you're out there somewhere) to take a chance on them.
Now that the more complicated stuff is out of the way, let's cover the easier stuff. With totals bets, you are not wagering on the outright winner or loser, but the total number of points scored in the game itself. This is given as a number of the overall points scored by both teams combined.
You would simply either make an "over" bet, wagering that the points scored exceed this amount, or an "under" bet, indicating that you think fewer points will be scored. Instead of making a bet based on the merits of a particular game, you are just wagering on whether the game itself will be high or low-scoring.
Props bets can be a great way for die-hard fans to engage with college football. These are usually bets on specific players, usually on things not related to points. An example might be a prop bet on whether or not Player X misses a field goal, or completes a 50-yard rush. That sort of thing.
If you're the kind of person to play the long game, try your hand at an NCAAF futures bet. This is when you wager now on an outcome that is further into the future, such as the outright winner of the 2022 Rose Bowl or the recipient of the Heisman Trophy. For this, it helps to have some seriously detailed knowledge of the college football calendar (see below).
Although they're a long shot, a parlay bet is a fun way to try for huge winnings from a small wager. Much like accumulator bets in soccer, a parlay requires you to make multiple successive bets on various outcomes. If all of the bets pay off, your overall winnings multiply to give you a payout.
Before you play a bet on college football, make sure you know all about the most important dates in the calendar. These are the dates you should save right now:
If you have already tried your hand at NFL betting, you might be wondering whether it is really all that different from college football betting. Here are some of the crucial differences between the two, which should inform your betting strategy.
Simply put, America wagers less money on college football than on the NFL. This means that the overall pool is smaller, especially since there are way more games in college football to play through. The main way this impacts you is that, since less money is being wagered, it takes less money to move the Moneyline. A small increase in wagers on a certain team can bump the Moneyline 4 or 5 points, which makes a big difference to how much you stand to win. This almost never happens in the NFL.
There are so many teams in the NCAAF, some with vastly different abilities. Unlike in the NFL, college football fixtures will often place a team of NFL-quality against a team that would struggle to win a middle school football game. This means that the spreads must be made much bigger to adjust for this disparity - often as much as 50 or 60 points more. A spread in the NFL will rarely go beyond 10 points.
College footballers are not the same as seasoned NFL players. Therefore, there are different variables to take into account when wagering on an NCAAF team. Intangibles such as the size of the audience, the (in)experience of the team, and even the terrain make a much bigger difference than with NFL games.