College football betting has gotten much more popular over the last several years and those that bet on CFB make up a very rabid fan base. College football, often abbreviated CFB, NCAAF, or NCAAFB, features a lot of different bet types and a really high variance in talent level between the teams and the betting odds.
College football spreads can be some of the highest among the six major US betting markets and the totals can also have extreme variations as well.
The first step in betting CFB is knowing how to read the odds, what the different bet types are, and how to understand what the numbers mean.
College football is a very popular betting market and all of the sportsbooks bend over backwards to accommodate their customers. Not all sportsbooks will post FCS (Division I-AA) odds, so you’ll have to do some research into those if that is your thing, but you will find all of the FBS (Division I-A) matchups at pretty much any sportsbook in the market.
Some places to consider for college football betting are top-rated sportsbooks like BetMGM, PointsBet, DraftKings, William Hill, and BetRivers.
Not all sportsbooks are available in all states, so you’ll have to check your jurisdiction to find out which places are available for you.
Spread betting is the default when it comes to college football. In college football, there can be enormous gaps between teams from coaching, talent, conference strength, and so many other factors. As a result, we often see big spreads in college football, especially in non-conference games, but we also see a lot of games that are lined closely as well.
The spread is a points handicap designed to bring the teams closer to even in hopes of balanced action as much as possible on both sides. The favorite, as denoted by a minus (-) sign, is the better of the two teams or the team that is the favorite because of home field advantage. The underdog, as denoted by a plus (+) sign, is the lesser of the two teams or simply the team on the road.
The size of the spread is indicative of the gap between the two teams. Spreads in college football can range from -1 to -60 or higher. It all depends on which two teams are playing. If you bet on the favorite at say -10, they need to win the game by 11 or more points to “cover the spread”. If you bet on the underdog at +10, they need to lose by 9 or fewer points or win the game outright to cover the spread.
Spreads also have vigorish or “vig” or “juice” attached to them. This is another measure used by risk managers and bookmakers to balance action. The standard is -110, but you can and will see fluctuations in that. It is a house edge that creates a theoretical hold for the sportsbooks.
For our purposes as bettors, think of it on a $100 scale. At -110, you would have to bet $110 to win $100 or something like $100 to win about $91. At -115, you would have to bet $115 to win $100 or $100 to win about $87. This is called betting “To Win” or “To Risk”.
Money line betting is not as popular in college football circles because the teams can have massive gaps in talent, but those that are able to pick off big underdogs certainly don’t mind. Spread betting evens the gap between the two teams to allow -110 or -115 vig. Money line betting is different.
With a money line, you are just betting on a team to win the game. You pay a bigger price with favorites though, as a -7 favorite might be more like -280 or -300. Similarly, a +7 underdog would be more like +240 or +250. With the favorites, it is lower-risk, lower-reward. With underdogs, it is higher-risk, higher-reward.
Money lines vary in size based on the spread and the likelihood of the favorite winning the game.
Totals betting is extremely popular in college football. Teams play with wildly different paces and different offensive schemes. Sometimes you’ll have one team that plays extremely fast and one that plays extremely slow. Totals lines in college can vary from the high 30s to as high as the mid-80s, depending on the game.
Totals betting means wagering on whether there will be more points scored in the game than the betting line or fewer points scored. If a 33-30 game has a total of 60, then that game has gone over the total. If a 28-21 game has a total of 60, then that game has gone under the total. You add up the total points and then grade over or under the posted total.
Like spreads, totals have vig attached to them. Also like spreads, the vig is more like -110 or -115 or -120, not like the big money line odds.
There are an increasing number of prop betting and futures betting markets for college football. These can include things like over/under season win totals, odds to win the National Championship or a conference title, the Heisman Trophy, other individual player/coach awards, or division futures.
The favorite(s) to win the National Championship will generally be somewhere around +350 or +400 and the longest of the long shots, if they are even listed, will have big numbers like +100000 or +500000.
Another option for football is to bet on the derivatives, like the quarters or the halves. Some people feel more comfortable betting quarters or halves because games could become blowouts and freshmen could play the second half. Other teams may just be fast starters or make good second half adjustments.
The favorite for the game will be the favorite for the quarters and the 1st half. The 2nd half often depends on what happened in the 1st half.