College football is one of the most popular sports to bet on because of America’s love for football and the sheer number of games to bet on any given Saturday in the fall.
Because of the amount of games ranging from top-10 clashes in the SEC to late-night Hawaii home games, there’s something for everyone when betting on college football.
Spreads can range from even, to as high as 50 or more if a powerhouse is playing a cupcake opponent.
Likewise, the total for a service academy game like Army-Navy is usually in the 30s, while a Big 12 shootout can have a total in the high 70s or even low 80s.
Spreads and totals are the most popular ways to bet college football, but other types of bets include moneylines, first or second-half lines, team totals, parlays, teasers, and futures.
The simplest bet in sports (and therefore college football) is a moneyline bet. This is just who will win the game. Of course, very rarely will the two teams be evenly priced.
For example, if Alabama is playing Ohio State, the line may be around even at -110 odds with a bettor needing to risk $110 to win $100. However, when Alabama plays Vanderbilt the moneyline odds may be more like -5000, which means a bettor would have to risk $5,000 to win $100.
Point spreads are one of the most common and popular bets in college football. The point spread is a point differential that the sportsbooks set in order to split the money on both sides so the books are guaranteed to make a profit.
For example, Notre Dame is playing Navy this August. Notre Dame is obviously the better team by a significant margin, so the sportsbooks need to find a point differential that will entice people to bet on Navy just as much as Notre Dame.
Caesars has set that line at Notre Dame -20 on the point spread. The minus sign next to the point value indicates that the team is the favorite. Navy would be listed with a plus for the underdog, with the bet showing Navy +20.
For a point spread bet on Notre Dame to win, the Irish need to win the game by more than 20 points, so 21 or more. For a bet on the Navy point spread to win, the Midshipmen can either win the game outright or lose by 19 or fewer points. If the game ends on exactly 20, both sides will see their bets refunded.
Game totals are another incredibly popular way to wager on college football. This is simply betting on if the total number of points in the game will be over or under the listed amount.
These numbers can vary greatly depending on the playing styles of the two teams involved.
The total in a Big 10 game between Wisconsin and Iowa will be much lower than the average game. Both teams love to run the football, meaning the clock runs and doesn’t stop as often on incomplete passes. Those programs also have strong defenses which obviously keep points off the board.
Meanwhile, if Lane Kiffin’s Ole Miss Rebels are involved in a matchup, the total will almost always exceed the average amount. Kiffin loves to run an up-tempo offense that goes up and down the field
In this hypothetical Wisconsin vs. Iowa matchup, let’s say the total is 47. If the final score is 27-21, the total adds to 48 and the over cashes. If the score is 21-17, that would clearly be a winning under bet because those add up to just 38.
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Team totals are the same concept as normal totals but the bet is solely based on the points scored by one of the two teams.
In that Wisconsin vs. Iowa game, let’s say the Badgers’ team total is 23.5. No matter if Wisconsin wins or loses, if the Badgers score 24 points or more the over on the team’s total cashes. If not, the under tickets win.
First/Second Half Lines
All of the above types of bets are usually for full games but can be taken in terms of halves as well. First-half bets are popular in games that are expected to be blowouts to minimize the impact of third and fourth stringers influencing the bet in the fourth quarter.
First-half bets are the most common but it’s also popular to watch the first half of a game and then take a second-half line during halftime.
Bets also exist for individual quarters, but those are less popular as they can be heavily influenced by the coin toss and situation to begin the given quarter.
One of the most popular things you’ll see on sportsbook social media accounts are pictures of massive winning parlay tickets. Parlays give the potential for a big payday, but they are very hard to win. In a parlay, all bets must win for the parlay to cash.
College football parlays are popular, especially with big moneyline favorites. Lots of betters aren’t willing to lay -500 odds, but will parlay a bunch of those heavy favorites together to get plus odds or better.
That can be a great way to minimize risk, but just remember that if any one of those favorites is upset, the parlay ticket is a loser.
College Football Betting Strategies
In college football, the schedule can be a determining factor in finding value. Does a team have a short week on the road? Coming off a big win? Maybe a look ahead to a rivalry game next week?
All these factors along with the obvious ones like home-field advantage can play a key role in the moneyline and point spreads.
Another fun way to bet on college football is by placing a future bet on a team to win a title (conference or national) or even an over/under on the number of games a team will win during the entire season. Check out our article on national championship futures right here.
Places to Bet on College Football
Most importantly, in order to bet on college football, you need to be signed up for sportsbooks to be able to actually place some bets! A list of our favorite sportsbooks is below: