The purpose of this piece is to provide even the most novice sports bettor a look into the different aspects of sports betting. The focus of this particular article is understanding how to bet college football futures.
Futures bets have a lot of positives and negatives that sports bettors either love or hate. That being said, futures markets have become one of the most popular markets in all of sports betting nowadays. Companies like PropSwap, with the help of Twitter, have helped in making NCAAF futures betting the cool way to gamble.
“Look around the table. If you don’t see a sucker, get up, because you are the sucker.” ~ Thomas Austin Preston, Jr. aka ‘Amarillo Slim’
What is a College Football Futures Bet?
First, let’s break down what it means to bet on “futures.” Pretty straight forward definition here, but a future bet is any bet made for an outcome that will occur in the future. Most future bets are related to winning some sort a Championship, like who will win the college football national title, but a future bet can be made on almost anything that will occur at a future date.
The key point to understand is that the bet is not on an individual game or series, but is on the entire season leading up to the determination of the eventual champion. These bets typically stretch over a period of time and are made up of lots of different games that need to be won in order for you to win your wager.
For example, let’s say you placed a futures bet on Ohio State to win the College Football Championship. You would normally place this futures bet prior to the start of OSU’s season. In order to win your bet, the Buckeyes would have to make the playoffs, make it to the Championship game, and then win that game.
Obviously, this is a challenge and tough to predict. But, that is why you get better odds in some of these instances, which a lot of gamblers like.
Odds for these college football futures bets are set by the oddsmakers based on the potential outcomes of that event actually occurring. The more likely the chance of an event happening, the worse the payout is for the bettor. The less likely chance of an event happening the bigger the payout. Basically, if you want to be on Alabama to win the title this season, you won’t get back as much in winnings as, say, Texas.
One important point to remember about winning futures is that these types of bets are never paid out until the final winner is determined. This means that you have to wait until the end of the season to cash in, and some people do not like their money being tied up for that long. On the flip side, some people like the greater odds, or just the ability to brag that they correctly called a title winner before the season started.
Usually futures markets are available 365 days a year for betting for just about every sport, but especially football. Oddsmakers readjust their odds to win the national championship and release new odds fairly quickly. Sportsbooks will release the odds to win the next College Football championship almost immediately after the previous season ends. Some betting sites even have college football futures for the next year’s title winner available before the season concludes. The sooner bookmakers get those odds out, the faster they can start taking more bets.
Once the odds are released, they are not set in stone and are always adjusting. These odds on futures shift quite frequently based on the performances of the teams, but more importantly, because of injury or suspensions.
Usually when a notable injury or suspension is announced, it’s not uncommon to see NCAAF futures markets pulled off the board right away. Oddsmakers usually then adjust these odds, and then reopen them for betting.
Now that the definition and some basics are out of the way, let’s talk gambling. When it comes to betting, NCAA Football is a completely different beast than its NFL futures counterpart. And, the same goes for futures bets in that regard.
Sportsbooks will typically offer several different futures bet options on the NCAAF every year. The four most bet College Football futures are usually on who is going to win the Championship, who is going to make the College Football Playoffs, Team wins Over/Unders, and who is going to win the Heisman Trophy.
Let’s look at some of the abovementioned odds, and some hypothetical results and payouts.
NCAAF 2019 National Title Odds (Top 10)
Ohio State +1600
Alabama and Clemson are heavy favorites to win the College Football Playoff, and understandably so. Both teams also have a combined implied probability (these are based on the betting odds) of almost 60%.
If you bet a $100 on either Clemson or Alabama to win the title, and either of those two teams win, you would pocket $250 in winnings. If you take a long shot like Utah and they end up winning it all, you would win $4000.
NCAAF 2019 Playoff Odds (Top 20)
Ohio State +250
Notre Dame +600
Texas A&M +1500
Washington State +2000
Michigan State +2000
In the above example, Clemson and Alabama are considered the most likely to make the College Football Playoff at -500 and -400 respectively. On the other hand, Michigan State considered the least likely to make the Playoff out of the group above, therefore their odds are much higher at +2000.
Say you want to bet on Clemson to make the NCAAF playoff. They are such heavy favorites, that for every $500 you bet, you’d win $100.
College Football 2019 Win Totals (Top 20)
Ohio State 10.5
Boise State 10
Appalachian State 9
Virginia Tech 8.5
If you want to bet on a College Win Total, you just have to pick whether or not the team is going to go over or under the listed next to the team. For example, if you think the Wisconsin Badgers are going to win 9 games or more, you would bet the Over. If you think they are going to win 8 games or less, you would bet the Under.
Sometimes there is a possibility of a push (money back), if the team wins exactly the number of games they are predicted to win. Take LSU for example. If you bet the over or under 9 on LSU’s season win totals, and the Tigers end up winning 9 games exactly, you would push your wager.
2019 Heisman Trophy Winner (Top 5)
Trevor Lawrence +300
Tua Tagovailoa +300
Adrian Martinez +1000
Jalen Hurts +1200
Justin Fields +1200
Just like the other two popular college football futures markets we looked at above, Alabama and Clemson lead the way.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Alabama quarterback Trevor Lawrence are your Heisman favorites at 3/1, meaning the oddsmakers are giving them each a 25% chance to win it.
As an example, if you were to wager a $100 on Trevor Lawrence to win the Heisman, and he wins the award, you would win $300 dollars.
Or, say you took a longer shot to win in Justin Fields, and he ends up winning, your $100 would turn into $1200 in winnings.
As you can see above, there are a lot of ways to have fun and make money on College Football futures. But, there is still a lot to consider if you want to make regular and consistent profits when betting on these types of bets. Remember, the bookmakers are very good at setting these lines, so you’ll rarely find future bets where it’s obvious which way you should bet. You’ve got to do your research and try to make genuinely informed judgements. You need to be patient too, and wait for the right college football opportunities. Now, go get them!