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How to Bet on College Football: A Guide to NCAA Football Betting

An Oklahoma Sooners fan celebrates during the game against the West Virginia Mountaineers

In the world of college football betting – which is like the real world but with a run-and-shoot offense – there is something for everybody. From high-scoring blowouts between two unevenly matched teams to defensive showdowns between championship contenders in the Big 12, every Saturday brings dozens of interesting storylines and betting angles.

As Elton John once said, “Saturday night’s all right for betting.” OK, he said “Saturday night’s all right for fighting.” But let’s not fight, let’s bet. Below we’ll explain how to bet on college football for the regular season, playoff time and the national championship.

Moneyline: Picking a Winner

During the regular season and bowl games, you can make a moneyline bet. Often called a straight-up bet, you are simply picking which team you think will win the game. Let’s pretend that Alabama and Louisiana State University are facing off in one of their yearly rivalry games. Odds would look something like this:

Alabama -220

LSU +180

In this scenario ‘Bama is the favorite – you can tell this because of the minus sign (-). LSU is the underdog – you know this due to the plus sign (+). These symbols are universal across all betting sites.

If you were to lay $25 on the Crimson Tide, and they won, you’d get a payout of $36.36 – your original $25 comes back plus your winnings of $11.36. On the other hand, if the Tigers sharpen their claws and say, “Not today, Saban!”, you’d get $70 – your $25 is returned along with your $45 loot.

To find out what you’d win based on the odds and how much you wager, check out our Odds Calculator.

Point Spread: Set Number of Points

The point spread is a bet you make on how much a team will win or lose by. Oddsmakers give the underdog an advantage to not lose the game by more than a set number of points, or to win outright. They also put the favorite at a disadvantage by not allowing them to win by more than their set amount of points.

Let’s break it down.

When the Illinois Fighting Illini – say that fast 10 times – visit Ohio State, the Buckeyes will probably be favored to win. What makes a game like this worth betting on is the spread. Odds would look something like this:

Buckeyes -40.5

Illini +40.5

In this scenario, Ohio State is the heavy favorite and they’d need to prevail by 41 points or more for you to win your bet. On the other hand, Illinois would need to win the game outright or not lose by more than 40 points.

Spread betting turns every game on the NCAA football game board into a more even matchup, regardless of how lopsided they appear on paper. Choosing a team to cover the spread, as opposed to picking one to win outright, can make online college football betting more fun to watch.

Totals: OVER or UNDER

Another betting option is the OVER/UNDER, aka a totals bet. Sportsbooks set a number of total points expected to be scored in a college football game. As a bettor you would need to bet on whether the actual combined number of points scored will be more or less than the set total.

Let’s say Wisconsin is playing Michigan and the total is set at 58.5. If you think the combined score will be 59 or more points, you would take the OVER. If you think the combined score will be 58 or fewer points, you’d bet the UNDER.

In rare cases the total set by oddsmakers will not have a half-point (.5). Let’s pretend that instead of 58.5 for Wisconsin vs Wolverines, it’s 58. If the final score is 58 exactly, you’d get your money back since it did not go OVER or UNDER. This is called a PUSH and the betting site will refund your money.

Props: Player Milestones

Prop bets are what make betting all that more fun. These are wagers that may not correlate exactly with the outcome of the game. For example, instead of betting on number of points, outright winner or spreads, you would bet on things like:

• Will Player X rush for over 50 yards?

• Will Player Y throw an interception?

• Will Player Z miss a field goal?

Parlays: Multiple Bets on One Ticket

Another fun way of betting on college football is a parlay. For this type of bet, you can combine multiple wagers on one ticket. You want to take the Auburn vs Oregon moneyline and are also looking at the spread for the Utah vs USC game? With a parlay you can bundle those onto one ticket. You can also add a totals bet for Idaho State vs Nebraska. The only thing to look out for with this kind of bet is that all your bets must hit in order for you to cash in your ticket. If you lose even one bet, your entire ticket is a bust.

Futures: Events that have yet to Happen

Futures are bets you make that will pay off in time. These are wagers like which team will win their conference. Odds would look something like this for the SEC:

Arkansas +2500

Tennessee +6600

Vanderbilt +12500

If you lock in your futures bets early enough, you could see a major payout when the season ends. For instance, if you were to take Vandy as SEC champion, and you bet $15, you could be $1,875 richer if they do win the conference.

The thing to keep in mind when making a futures bet is that your money will be tied up until the end of the college football playing period. As long as you watch your bankroll after you make your futures picks, you can ensure that you have enough left to wager throughout the season.

Teasers: Altering the Odds

Teaser betting allows you to move the spread or totals odds in your favor on two or more bets. Like a parlay, all bets on your ticket must hit, otherwise your ticket is a total loss. Let’s say you’re looking at two games: Clemson -10 vs Louisville +10, and Colorado -13 vs Arkansas +13. You have to pick one side of each match to change. The new odds on your betting slip would look something like this:

Clemson -3

Arkansas +20

In college football, the most common teasers are 6, 7 or 10 points. Generally, betting sites will give you two teams for 6 and 7 points and three teams for 10-point teasers.

Live Betting: When the Game is In Play

Miami is playing Virginia Tech and you forgot to place your bets. Luckily, sportsbooks offer live betting. You can bet on each play after the game has started. Live odds are released during the game to allow you to bet on the outcome of plays, like if they will end in a touchdown, interception or field goal.

Bowls, Bowls, All Types of Bowls

There are 40 college football bowl games that are played during the month of December and the first week of January. These range from the Outback Bowl to the Liberty Bowl to the New Year’s Six (Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Peach Bowl, Fiesta Bowl). Each year, two of the six are designated to be semifinal games to decide who will play in the championship matchup.

Odds are released for each bowl game with the same betting options you’d see during the regular season.

National Championship Betting

Sports betting, no matter if it’s baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer or football, always culminates in a championship. If Florida State is facing off against Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff National Championship, the Sooners may be 3-point favorites over the Seminoles. Sportsbooks love big games and will provide bettors with numerous options. You can choose from a wide variety of betting opportunities – basically any of the ones we list above.

How to Sign up at a Sportsbook to Bet on College Football

The majority of online sportsbooks – or at least the NCAA football betting sites we recommend – have lines and odds on most college games. We’ve researched each one and can attest to their safety and ease of use.

Choose one of the betting sites we support and create an account. This takes a few minutes and you’ll need to have your email address and deposit information ready. The sportsbooks we vouch for take everything from Bitcoin to PayPal.

Once the sign-up process is complete, check out the reward options. Some college football gambling sites will offer a Welcome Bonus that will match a percentage of your first deposit up to a certain amount. An example of a reward could be something like a 100 percent equivalent of your first deposit up to $200. That means if you were to bet $100, you would get an extra $100 added to your bankroll. Terms and conditions do apply so make sure you read the fine print before accepting any bonuses.

Ready to Make your Betting Picks?

Now that you know how to bet on college football and which online sportsbooks to use, look to our more advanced tutorials for NCAA football betting. Furthermore, Odds Shark offers Betting Trends so you can see how the public has bet in the past on certain teams. We also have Odds so you can look for any line movement that could influence your bets.

College Football Betting Guides

•    Betting Against Ranked Teams 
•    Betting College Football Rivalry Games 
•    Bowl Betting Strategies: How to Profit in NCAA Bowl Season 
•    College Football Handicapping Myths 
•    College Football OVER/UNDER Betting 
•    College Football Parlay Betting Strategies