“Gambling is colorful and dramatic and theatrical.” ~ Steve Wynn
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 to be an overview guide for you to understand how to bet college football. When it comes to gambling, NCAA Football is a completely different beast than its NFL counterpart. College football betting provides gamblers with a greater slate of games throughout the week compared to the NFL, including usually 25 plus matchups on Saturdays alone.
We will prepare by starting with the basic college football betting types, including: reading college football odds, spread bets, moneyline, totals, parlays/ teasers, 1st quarter, 1st half and half-times.
College Football Spread Bets
Just like the NFL, college football point spread betting is the most popular way to gamble. The point-spread, or line, is a type of bet that equalizes the chance of winning a wager (see example below). An underdog team’s spread will be accompanied with a “+”, while a “-” indicates a team that is favored. The spread bet in college football is the most common bet that is made. This bet is interesting because it allows you to bet on either team, regardless of how mismatched they may be.
Let’s use the Northwestern Wildcats-Stanford Cardinal game coming up at the end of August 2019, to look at the odds and hypothetical result to further understand betting on the spread:
The Cardinal are the 25th ranked team in the country, while the Wildcats are unranked. Stanford is almost certain to win this game, but what helps neutralize this game from a betting perspective, is the line itself. The point-spread for this game is 6.5 points.
Bettors who want to wager on Stanford -6.5 would be betting on them to win by 7 or more points. For those that wanted to bet on Northwestern, you’d want them to either win the game outright or to lose by less than 7 points.
Another result that can happen is push. Let’s say that hypothetically the spread for this game was Stanford -7 instead of -6.5. If the Cardinal were to win exactly by 7 points (in that scenario), the wager would be deemed a push, and you’d get your money back, regardless of what side you bet on.
Now, imagine the final score: Stanford 30, Northwestern 24
Basically, if you had Stanford -7, you would’ve lost your bet. And, if you had Northwestern +7, you would’ve won, because despite losing the game, the Wildcats covered the spread by losing by less than 7 points.
Again, spreads make every game more evenly matched in terms of betting, regardless of how lopsided the game actually looks on paper.
College Football Moneyline Betting
The easiest way to think of a College football moneyline bet compared to a point-spread bet is that the moneyline wager involves simply picking the winning team. The Moneyline takes the spread out of the equation. Different odds are placed next to each team, those odds will quantify the payout of betting on either team on the moneyline.
For example, using the same Northwestern-Stanford game:
Just like the minus and plus values on the point-spread, those values designate favorites and underdogs in moneyline betting. In this case, Stanford is favored at -240 (bet $240 to win $100), and Northwestern is listed as the underdog at +200 (bet $100 to win $200).
Because the Cardinal are favored, the sportsbook needs you to risk more to bet on them. After all, they should win this game. So wagering on College football favorites with moneylines calls for you to risk a certain number ($240 based on -240) in order to win $100.
On the other side, the sportsbook is also willing to reward you for taking the underdog, so they give you an incentive to bet on Northwestern. In this case, you would risk $100 in order to win $200 (+200) on the Wildcats.
College Football Over/ Under Betting (Totals)
Sportsbooks determine what they believe will be the total points scored by each of the teams combined. Once the Total is set, bettors place wagers on the Over (or Under) of that specific point total.
Basically, Over/ Under bets are wagers made on the combined number of points scored by both teams during the game (this includes overtime). For example, let’s take a look at another Week 1 matchup coming up between the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the Clemson Tigers.
The total is currently set to 59.5 points. If you were to bet the OVER, you would need the Yellow Jackets and Tigers to score a combined number of points of 60 or higher. If you were to bet the UNDER, the teams would need to score a combined number of points of 59 or lower.
Let’s take a look at a hypothetical result. If the final score of the game ended: Georgia Tech 21 – Clemson 42. This result would give us a total of 63 (21+42) points. This combined total is over the oddsmaker’s prediction. So, if you bet on the Over, you would win your wager. On the flip side, if you bet on the Under would lose your money.
That’s honestly all there is when it comes to College Football Over/ Unders Betting. Totals betting is really that easy on paper. This ease of Total bets appeals to a lot of gamblers, especially for those that are new to sports betting. Newer bettors are drawn to Over/ Unders because it is a simple entry point.
Another reason Over/ Under betting is a popular bet overall, is because you’re not forced to choose a team. You don’t have to bet or root against your favorite team or player. If you are a Michigan fan, you don’t have to put your money on Ohio State. The only thing you’re interested is the sum of the teams’ total points.
A teaser is a special, multi-leg bet in which you are able to adjust the point spread or total for a game.
The most common types of teasers are two-team, six-point or two-team, seven-point. Some books also offer three-team, ten-point teasers. These points are added to the underdog or subtracted from the favorite. Teasers are considered favorable bets because they give bettors extra points, but as with parlays, you must win every individual leg of your bet to win your wager.
Let’s take a look at some teaser examples. To do so, let’s again use the Northwestern-Stanford example we used above.
Again, the odds for that game sit at:
First, let’s start with a two-team, six-point teaser. Since the line is -6.5, and you are betting a 6-point teaser, your new line would be -.6 if you take Stanford. On the flip side, betting the underdog in that situation would bump that number up to Northwestern +12.5.
If you did a two-team, seven-point teaser in the same game, your new lines would either be Stanford +.5 or Northwestern +13.5.
If you were looking to tease the Total in the aforementioned game you would be able to manipulate the line to either Under 53 or Over 41 (two-team, six-point teaser).
Typically the price on a two-team, six-point teaser is -120 (bet $120 to win $100) while a three-teamer pays out at +180 (bet $100 to win $180). Be mindful that if a game falls on the adjusted number, the bet is reduced by one (i.e.: a three-teamer becomes a two-teamer). Note that in the event of a tie in one leg of a two-teamer, the bet is a push, no matter if the other selection wins or loses.
With parlays, bettors can bet that two or more point-spreads, over/ unders, or moneylines will win, earning a higher payout if all of their picks win than they would have betting each one individually.
Using the same Northwestern-Stanford example above, if you did a parlay, you’d be taking say Northwestern +6.5 or Stanford -6.5 and Over/ Under 47. Whereas if you use the teaser example above, you are getting more favorable lines as we discussed.
Because of that fact that a parlay line stays the same, they pay out at much better odds than a teaser. Because of the better payouts, parlays also seem to be more popular with bettors overall.
A two-team parlay generally pays out at +260 (bet $100 to win $260), 6-1 for a three-team parlay, 10-1 for a four-team parlay, and the numbers go up exponentially from there. That is, because the wagers become tougher to win with the more teams you add.
1st Quarter/ 1st Half Lines
Football is broken down into quarters and halves, so naturally, the oddsmakers have made available wagers for these partitions. For NCAA football, they are known as the 1st quarter and 1st Half lines. As one might expect, the 1st quarter line is generally a quarter of the entire game’s line, while the first half line is usually about half of the entire spread. These lines are available at mostly all reputable sportsbooks.
Halftime wagers are only available during halftime of the NCAAF game. Halftime lines use the events of the 1st half to help determine how the rest of the game will play out. Halftime action can be a good way to capitalize on middle plays.
So there you have it, folks. As you can see above, there are a lot of ways to wager on College Football. But, there is still a lot to consider if you want to make regular and consistent profits when betting on college football lines. The bookmakers are very good at setting these lines, so you’ll rarely find spots 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 opportunities. Now, go get them!