College Football betting tips and guide for beginners

how to bet on college football

College football brings dozens of exciting prospects and lots of action on display. During fall and winter, diehard fans cheer on their favorite teams from home, sports bars, and stadiums. At the same time, seasoned sports bettors analyze matchups before placing wagers on whatever outcome they think is most likely.

NCAAF betting for beginners

The world of NCAAF betting is one of the fastest and most furious there is. There is lots of money to be made too. If you’re wondering how to bet on college football online, this betting guide is for you.

How to read college football odds

College football odds are no different to regular betting odds. They show how likely or unlikely a sportsbook believes a certain outcome might occur. They are typically presented as numbers prefixed by a plus (+) or minus (-) sign.

  • The bigger the number after a positive (+) sign, the less likely the event will happen. This translates to more money if the wager pays off.
  • The bigger the number after a negative (-) sign, the more likely the event will happen. Such odds have a lower payout.

Sportsbooks also measure their odds relative to 100. In this case, a minus (-) sign shows how much money you need to wager to make a $100 profit. On the other hand, a plus (+) sign shows how much you stand to make if you place a $100 bet.

Take a hypothetical college football game between Illinois and Duke. Illinois has -120 odds while Duke has +130 to win. This is a moneyline bet where the sportsbook believes Illinois is more likely to win.

To make $100 in this scenario, you would need a $120 wager on Illinois. On the other hand, if you bet $100 on Duke, you will make $130 in profits.

Understanding the juice/vig

The vig, also known as vigorish or juice, refers to the amount a sportsbook charges for taking and handling bets. It varies based on the odds for the wager.

For instance, odds of -110 in sportsbook x have a 9.1% vig. If you wager $110 and win $100, the sportsbook takes $9.1. Your bet then will return a net profit of $90.9.

Note that the vig varies depending on the odds. So, for -115 odds, the sportsbook may charge 13%, and for -105 odds, they may charge 5%. It also changes from one sportsbook to another. In the above instance, some sportsbooks will charge a 4.5% vigorish for the -110 odds.

The key takeaway: It’s important to shop for the lowest vig. This is especially true when betting on money lines.
That said, here are the most common bets used in college football.

Most common college football betting types

Moneyline bets

Moneyline bets are as straightforward as it gets. You just have to pick the team you think will win the game. As shown in the example above, teams expected to win have a lower risk and thus, lower returns. On the other hand, those expected to lose have a higher risk, leading to higher returns. 

Point spreads

The college football point spread refers to the number of points teams are expected to win or lose by. The sportsbook sets the point, and you pick which item is most likely. This type of bet levels the competition, allowing you to bet on any team, including the losing one.  

For instance, in the same game between Illinois and Duke, a spread bet would look like this;

TeamSpread Odds
Illinois-2.5-110
Duke+2.5-110

Illinois has a -2.5 points spread. If you bet on them, they must beat Duke by more than three points or more for you to win. On the other hand, Duke is the underdog with a +2.5 spread. So, if you wager on Duke, they must lose by two or fewer points for your bet to come through.  

Over/under betting in College Football

While spreads focus on the difference between points, over/under bets are all about the total points. The sportsbook estimates the combined total points between the two teams. You’re then presented with two betting options: 

  • Over: The final score exceeds the estimated total.
  • Under: The final score is below the estimated total. 

For instance, in the game between Illinois and Duke, the oddsmaker predicts 50.5 points to be scored. The bet will look like this: 

ResultOdds
Over 50.5-110
Under 50.5-110

If you think the game will be a high-scoring one and exceed 50 points, you pick over. Conversely, if you think the game will be a low-scoring one and come up short of 50 points, you pick under. 

Props Betting in College football

Prop betting focuses on something other than the winner/loser or the final score of the game. It’s all about the fun.  For instance, in any given college football game, you can bet on:

  • How many interceptions will be thrown
  • Which team/player scores first/last
  • How many tackles or completed passes a specific player will make
  • Total number of touchdowns scored
  • Whether the game will go to overtime
  • Which quarter/half will see the least points, etc.
  • Total number of yards recorded by a player

College Football Parlay Bets

If you’ve been a college football fan for long, know the teams well, and fancy your analytical skill, parlay bets are for you. Parlay bets let you wager on a combination of different outcomes of the same or different NCAAF games. 

They usually have the highest payouts. But they are also the riskiest. This is due to the large number of outcomes that need to go your way to win.

For instance, you can place a parlay bet that Indiana Hoosiers, Ohio Bobcats, and Miami Hurricanes will win their games while Alabama Crimson Tide will lose. To win the wager, all outcomes have to be as you predicted. If even one of them is wrong, you lose the bet. 

Futures bet

Future bets are wagers on events that will happen. They are usually made before a new NCAAF season begins. They will include things like: 

  • The winner of the College Football Playoff
  • Team total wins/losses during the regular season
  • The Heisman trophy winner
  • Conference Championship winners
  • Which college football teams will make the College Football Playoff

Live bets

Some sportsbooks offer live betting on college football games. Live betting allows you to bet as the match goes on. If the game is tied after the second quarter, you can wager on who will win the game. Or if one team is trailing and you fancy a comeback, you can also bet on that.  

College football betting tips

As you bet on college football games, here are the best tips to help you succeed as well as what to watch out for; 

Rivalries

College football has plenty of intense rivalries. Throughout the season, fans are treated to the Iron Bowl (Alabama vs Auburn), the Egg Bowl (Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State), The Red River Rivalry (Oklahoma vs Texas), Apple Cup (Washington State vs. Washington), The Game (Ohio State vs. Michigan), Bedlam (Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State), and many more. 

With rivalries, no matter the form of the competing college football teams, matchups are often close. The winner for moneyline bets isn’t always apparent. Expect both teams to fight really hard for the win. 

Injuries

Football is a physical sport. Injuries are a big part of the game and affect the betting odds and outcomes of college football matches. Before making your bets, check if any crucial players are injured. You should also assess the injury susceptibility of players when making season-long future bets. 

Time of betting

Online sportsbooks will release odds for next weekend’s matchups as soon as the current weekend’s games have been played. So, you can place your bets instantly at release. However, note that odds tend to change as the week wears on due to new information on injuries and the weather. If you prefer to have all the information on hand before placing a wager, you should wait until Game Day. 

Most common college football betting mistakes to avoid

College football bettors make many mistakes when betting. These include;

  • Placing all your money line bets on favorites. By doing so, you are risking a lot of money for a small return.
  • Betting on the teams you support. Just because you want them to win doesn’t necessarily mean they will.
  • Trying to compensate for losses by placing more money on your subsequent bets. 
  • Failure to manage your bankroll properly. 

Where can I bet on college football legally?

In May 2018, the Supreme Court made a ruling that allowed individual states to legalize sports betting if they wanted to. Since then, thirty states plus Washington have legalized sports betting.   

While many states allow for online sports betting, it’s also important to recognize the differences in restrictions. These range from who can place the bet and how the bet is placed to the type of bet. 

For instance, most states have 21 as the legal age for online betting, but a few, like New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Washington, have it as 18. Similarly, Illinois restricts bets on state teams, Colorado restricts props bets on college games, and New Hampshire restricts prop bets on in-state college teams. 

The bottom line, make sure to read your state’s betting rules before you join a college football betting site, the best of which include; 

Caesars

Caesars sportsbook offers the best odds for NCAA football. If you’re looking for exciting odds and a platform to place some big wagers, this is the place to be. You even get a promo code for your first bet.  

Betrivers

Betrivers makes it easier for beginners to get started with betting. For instance, you can get a signup bonus of up to $250. There are also free bets, which help ease the tension of making your first NCAAF bet. 

Get started today with our Betrivers promo code.

BetMGM

BetMGM is another sportsbook every serious NCAA football bettor should join. If you’re just signing up, you get risk free bets of up to $1000 as a welcome bonus using this promo code.

FanDuel

FanDuel sportsbook is another excellent platform to take your first steps in college football betting. Like BetMGM, the platform rewards new customers with a risk-free bet worth up to $1000. And it all starts with this promo code. 

DraftKings

While DraftKings is popular for fantasy sports, it also runs an online sportsbook where users can bet on college football games. The odds are favorable and new players enjoy several welcome bonuses. For instance, you get a risk free bet and qualify for a 20% bonus of up to $1,000. Getting started is pretty easy, and gets even easier with our DraftKings promo code. 

College football betting FAQs

How does the college football season work?

There are 130 teams split across ten conferences across the Division 1 level.

In a college football season, games are played out over a total of 14 to 15 weeks, with an extra week for conference championship games.

What is the difference between college football and the NFL?

The NFL and NCAAF are similar in many ways. However, a key factor in knowing how to bet on college football is understanding their differences. This is because some of these impacts betting in the sport.  

One such difference is the number of teams involved; college football has many more teams than the NFL. This means that there are just so many more games to bet on; well over a dozen in a weekend.

As a result of the sheer amount of teams in college football, this creates a bigger talent disparity. The big colleges take the most talented players. However, when it comes to betting, this also means a bigger point spread is on the table. Spreads in the -20 and -30 range are quite common in NCAA football.

Can you bet on college football online?

Yes, you can. However, you need to do so through legal college football betting sites. Some of the top-rated college football betting sites include Caesars, Betrivers, BetMGM, FanDuel, and DraftKings.

This guide on how to bet on college football is intended for entertainment purposes and adult users only. Call 1-800-GAMBLER if you have a gambling problem

WRITTEN BY

Dan Smullen

Hailing all the way from Dublin, Ireland, Dan Smullen has BSC. in the Sports and Exercise Sciences from the University of Limerick. He is data obsessed. In the past he has worked both as a video performance analyst and provided biometric performance testing and analysis for professional rugby teams. Dan is obsessed about helping the average punter become more successful at sports betting through the assistance of good sports betting data analysis. He has worked with over 200 journalists at multiple editorial teams in his previous role as Head of Search for the largest national news publisher in Ireland.

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