NCAA Football is a bettor’s paradise. There are almost 100 more teams to bet on compared to the NFL, and longshots upend heavy favorites almost weekly. The scores are high, the pace is fast, and the number of games games are seemingly endless due to the amount of programs and conferences. The NCAA game also has no shortage of drama, as chaos is rooted in the action from Tuesday to Saturday.
This page will serve as a guide for betting on the 2021 season, complete with live odds from a huge range of online sportsbooks, weekly NCAA football best bets, betting strategy, and more!
College Football Week 4 Best Bets
Please return on Wednesday for Week 4 NCAA football picks!
*Picks are made well in advance of kickoff and all odds are subject to change after selections are made*
Week 4 College football odds
NCAA football promos and sign-up bonus
Best college football betting apps
Once you’ve collected your data and are ready to place your bets, where you place them can be just as important as what bet you’re placing. The top three places to wager on college football are DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, and BetMGM. While preference is important, it’s also important to shop around at all of these sportsbooks to find the best odds; not all of them will have exactly the same lines. Just a couple minutes’ worth of shopping around could win you more money with your bets. While the names DraftKings and FanDuel might be best known for their offerings of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS), they also have excellent (and legal) sportsbooks for wagering games and futures.
Not every state in the US has legalized sports gambling; it’s extremely important to recognize your individual state’s laws and regulations, which can be found here. For those outside of legal jurisdictions, DFS can offer a fun and legal way to wager on sports.
FanDuel and DraftKings offer great, user-friendly sources to bet weekly on player performances (Note: Offshore sportsbooks have been an under-the-radar source for sports bettors, but are not recognized legally in the US. It is not recommended to utilize these sources if you are outside of legal jurisdiction). You can find a list of legal sportsbooks in the US here.
How to bet on college football
Moneyline betting is equivalent to picking which team will win an NCAA football game, regardless of the score. It is debatably the most common bet type there is and it’s definitely the simplest to understand, which makes it the perfect starting point for beginners. An example of what moneylines look like at online sportsbooks would be:
- Alabama -250
- Georgia +190
The favorite will have a negative moneyline, and that number represents the amount a bettor must risk for every $100 in profit. To bet on Alabama -250, it will require laying out $250 to win $100. The increased risk comes as a result of selecting the team which oddsmakers have labeled more likely to win.
Underdogs have positive odds, and the moneyline can be viewed as the amount you can win with a $100 wager. Risking $100 on Georgia +190 can result in a $190 profit. Since underdogs have a lesser chance of winning in the eyes of oddsmakers, bettors are rewarded with a larger payout for selecting that team to win the game.
It should be noted that college football has a lack of parity compared to some other sports. This means that plenty of games each week feature teams which are so much better (or worse) than their opponent, the moneyline is an impossible bet to make on either side. There’s no value on the favorite and even though the payouts are beautiful, the underdog has virtually no chance in these scenarios. If games are lopsided enough, moneylines are taken off the board entirely.
If moneylines isn’t at the top of the mountain, then point spread betting certainly is when it comes to popularity. We just mentioned that there’s a huge disparity between many NCAAF teams, and spreads are the oddsmakers’ way of evening out the game from a betting perspective.
Point spreads are a projected winning margin for the favorite, and losing margin for the underdog. Again, favorites will have a negative line and underdogs will have a positive sign next to their odds.
- Alabama -7.5 (-110)
- Georgia +7.5 (-110)
Betting favorites means needing that team to win by more than the spread indicates to ‘cover’ the number. Underdogs can win the bet even if they lose the game, so long as the margin is fewer points than the spread.
A wager on Alabama -7 (-110) would need the Crimson Tide to win by eight or more points to win the bet. At -110, the bettor needs to risk $110 for every $100 in profit. Placing a wager on Georgia +7.5 (-110) means that the Bulldogs can win the contest or lose by seven or fewer points and still earn a payout for bettors.
Spreads are set with an equal number of points on both sides, and oddsmakers carefully select these numbers with the goal in mind of attracting equal attention on both sides. The juice for most spreads begins in the range of -110 but it can vary from -125 to +100 depending on how the line moves, and this line may not match up for the two teams.
In the event a spread is on a whole number and the favorite wins by exactly that amount, backers for each team will have their original wagers returned to them.
Also known as over-unders, totals are another popular and simple bet. This involves selecting whether the combined score of the game will go over or under a predetermined total set by the sportsbook. Unless otherwise noted, totals include overtime as well, which is untimed in college football. An example would look like this:
- Alabama-Georgia Over 54 (-115)
- Alabama-Georgia Under 54 (-105)
If the final score of the game adds up to 55 points or more, that’s a win for the over. At -115, it would take a $115 risk to win $100. The under would hit if the combined score was 53 points or fewer, and a -105 line means laying down $105 for every $100.
As is the case with spreads, the over-under is the same for the two teams and oddsmakers set a total with the intention of getting bettors to back both sides, knowing they can adjust if the public action discatates a move.
The juice for totals mirrors point spreads in that it begins around -110 but can vary in the range of -125 to +100 in almost all cases. Many times, the juice will slightly differ between the two teams, as illustrated in our example.
NCAAF Prop Bets
The growth of online sportsbooks has led to an explosion in the number of betting markets being offered, with many of the new additions being proposition bets. Widely referred to as props, these wagers are vitually any bet that isn’t on the full-game moneyline, spread, or total.
Props are broken up into several categories including game, team, and player props, and each is pretty self-explanatory. Player props are based on individual performance, while team props focus on one individual side and game props are centered around in-game occurances having to do with both teams.
Player props are rare in the NCAA game and are usually only offered during big bowl games or the College Football Playoff. But sportsbooks do still offer several props on a weekly basis for indivudual matchups including the following examples:
- Quarters/Halves Moneyline, Spread, & Total
- Alternate Spread & Total
- Home/Away Team Totals (Full Game, Halves)
- Winning Margin
While there are several props available for individual contests featuring Power Five schools, there are also player props offered for entire seasons, though these bets are less common.
NCAAF Futures Betting
Futures betting refers to bets placed that will be played out over a set duration, typically a season when we’re talking about college football. These bets can cover team success, such as the winner of the College Football Playoff, but there are also plenty of other options including player awards such as the Heisman.
- College Football Playoff (CFP) Champion
- Conference Champion
- Division Winner
- Heisman Trophy Winner
- Over/Under Regular Season Wins
- To Reach The CFP
For anyone looking for the largest payout possible, correctly picking a Heisman winner can come with a huge payday. The same can generally be said for national championship odds, though the favorites which dominate college football don’t have odds as lofty as we’d like to see. Picking over or under a win total will come with modest odds similaer to a typical point spread, though it can still provide a rooting ineterest and wind up being a lucrative practice.
NCAA Football Betting Strategies
Focus On Specific Conferences
There are around 130 programs in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision of the NCAA, which make up 10 different conferences. There are just too many teams to cover them all in an intimate way, as you would with a league of 30 teams. So one piece of advice is to focus on specific conferences and become familiar with a small group of teams before branching out.
Two to three conferences will make up about 30 teams or so, and that is a more manageable number. And once you get to conference play, many of them will be playing one another, and it’s likely you’re much more comfortable than when you started back at Week 1.
Look For Sharp Signs
Recreational bettors should understand they aren’t going to be an expert on some of the factors that make a huge difference in the game, including team makeups and the schemes they run. And you won’t know every player and what they do well the same way many fans do when it comes to the NFL.
So one way to help diagnose the right bets is to look for signs from the people who do know: the sharps. That means bettors need to analyze the odds and how the line changes to perhaps learn about which side the professional bettors are on.
One thing to look for is reverse line movement. This takes place when the masses are on one side of a game, but the odds shift in the opposite direction. Reverse line movement is often an indicator of the sharps fading the public.
Even if the odds don’t move in the opposite direction, tracking line movement is important, as are bet percentages. These numbers are usually only doled out to cover a small sample of the betting public, but can give you an idea of the difference between the amount of bets and the overall handle going to one particular side.
Use The Correct Metrics
Anyone can look at win/loss records, total points, and yards to determine which bets to place. But statistics can be misleading, and knowing which metrics to look at and how to apply those metrics to your wagers will infinitely improve your odds of success. Consider the following:
- Yards Per Play
- Offensive/Defensive efficiency
- Turnover Margin
These are just some of the stat categories that should never be ignored, and can be more valuable indicators of success than just looking at their points per game and where they sit in the standings. But keep in mind that all stats should be used in context and as a guide. There’s no end-all be-all metric that’s the skeleton key for unlocking betting success.
Multiple Sportsbook Accounts
If you live in one of the growing number of states that has several online sportsbooks to choose from, you’d be wise to open up an account with more than one of them. Having more than one resource has several advantages, beginning with receiving a welcome bonus for each new account.
There’s also the fact that promotional offers are unique to individual sportsbooks, meaning different sites will offer different deals. The more accounts you have, the more chances there are for promotions including odds boosts, profit boosts, and free bets.
Perhaps the most important reason to establish more than one sportsbooks account is to shop for lines. One site may have Ohio State -10 (-110), but another site could have the Buckeyes at -9.5 (-110). That half point could mean the difference between earning profits or not. Whether you’re comparing the spread, the total, or just the juice attached to either one, line shopping is a surefire way to gain the most value possible.
Know The Weather Report
The weather report should be a major part of the pregame checklist. It’s a variable that nobody can control, but everyone must adjust to when it comes to betting. Inclement weather can play a huge role in the decisions you make as a bettor, and it also plays a role in how the line got to the point where it currently sits.
If the forecast calls for consistent rain or snow, an up-tempo team could have some trouble executing its game place. That could cause a change in the spread toward the other team that wouldn’t exist if the sun was out. The total will also be lower when the weather is inclement than if the conditions were perfect, so over-under bettors are certainly impacted as well.
Focus On Individual Matchups
Individual matchups are extremely important to game outcomes. Just because Penn State has the 14th ranked pass defense in the country doesn’t mean Ohio State receiver Chris Olave wouldn’t go over on his projected 50.5 receiving yards. A size, speed, or technique advantage on either side of the ball can greatly impact individual performance and the outcome of a game.
Take Advantage Of Boosts & Free Bets
Sportsbooks are always offering odds boosts and free bets to entice wagering on NCAA football. There is absolutely no downside to this and anytime you get a chance to take advantage of a generous promotion, you should do it. Examples could be the following:
- Odds Boost: Enhances odds for a specific team, game, or wager. It could be a 20 percent profit boost on CFB parlays, or a boost for betting either side of the moneyline for a specific game.
- Bet & Get: This involves placing a wager on a certain team or game (set by the site) and earning site credit or free bets in the process.
- Free Bets: These can be used to bet on CFB without spending your own money. It is recommended that you use these on parlays or another bet that can turn your free credit into a larger payout.