Every year, the NCAA football campaign comes to a close with the spectacle known simply as “Bowl Season.” From the nearly monthlong period from mid-December until early January, nearly every day features a college football bowl game and plenty of betting opportunities at online sportsbooks in a growing number of states.
The bowl season features over 40 games and 80 programs from across FBS and is sure to provide us with more unique and interesting matchups than we see over the course of a whole season. On this page, we’ll have previews and picks for every bowl game when the time comes!
2022-23 College Football Betting Odds
How To Bet On College Football Bowl Games
Betting on bowl games isn’t unlike any other contest when it comes to the betting options. You’ve got the standard moneyline, spread, and total, but you can also bet props and place parlays. We’ll go over some of the basic ones below.
Moneyline betting involves picking the winner of a game, regardless of the spread. Betting the favorite means risking whatever the moneyline says to win $100. Taking the underdog means risking $100 and winning the number indicated on the moneyline. An example would be:
- Ohio State Buckeyes -300
- Oklahoma Sooners +240
Ohio State is the favorite and you’d have to risk $300 for every $100. Oklahoma is the underdog and can win you $240 for every $100.
The point spread evens out the game from a betting perspective, which is why the line (also known as the juice) is close to equal on both sides of a point spread. The favorite must win by more than the spread, while underdogs can lose by less than the number indicated on the spread and still win the bet.
- Ohio State Buckeyes -6 (-110)
- Oklahoma Sooners +6 (-110)
A bet on OSU requires a victory of seven points or more and at -110, you must risk $110 to win $100. Betting on Oklahoma requires a loss of five points or fewer to win the wager with the same -110 juice attached.
While the juice may not be exactly the same on both sides, it will range from +100 to -125 in most cases. If the favorite wins the game by the exact spread, the game gown down as a push, and the original bet will be returned.
When it comes to bowl games, oddsmakers can be way off with spreads because the two teams rarely play one another.
Also known as over/unders, totals betting involves picking whether the final score of a bowl game will go over or under the total set by oddsmakers.
- Ohio State/Oklahoma Over 57.5 (-115)
- Ohio State/Oklahoma Under 57.5 (-105)
Winning an over bet requires 58 or more points to be scored between the two teams. At -105, you’d risk $105 to win $100. For an Under to hit, there’d have to be 57 points or fewer and the bettor risks $115 to win $100.
Similar to spreads, the juice for totals will range from -125 to +100 in many cases. And due to the lack of familiarity between the teams, oddsmakers also miss on totals at times and create value.
Prop betting is the process of placing virtually any wager that isn’t the standard moneyline, spread, and total. These mostly include player props built around statistical achievements, but game props and team props are also available for bowl games. Here are some examples:
- Player Passing, Rushing, & Receiving Yards
- Home/Away Team Totals
- Quarters & Halves ML, Spread, & Total
- Winning Margin
Parlays are a huge part of bowl season just because of the amount of games we’re talking about. Bettors can combine multiple selections into the same wager for an enhanced payout, and they can do it with multiple contests or with just one bowl game if the site offers the same-game parlay feature.
The fact that around 40 matchups are played means there is an infinite number of combinations and parlays that can be played over that month-long period. We’d stick with two and three-teamers for the best chance of winning, but predicting the huge upsets and adding several teams to the bet will definitely create a handsome payout.
Even though parlays are extremely exciting, they’re also pretty difficult to win and should only be placed sparingly.
Live betting is growing in popularity and becoming a crucial part of the strategy for more and more gamblers. During bowl season, live betting can come in handy if you’re watching the game that you wagered on (which you should be).
The truth is, bowl games are unpredictable because of the unfamiliarity between opponents. It can become apparent quite early at times that oddsmakers were incorrect, and there could be time to pounce on a line that is only slightly adjusted from the original one. Most of this requires you relying on your eye test but if you know what you’re looking for from each team when the game begins, it’s a bit easier to identify if it is there or not from the jump.
Also known as in-game betting, placing live wagers can be used as a way of hedging a previous bet, doubling down on a previous bet, or finding a middle. This involves placing wagers on both sides of a game at different spreads and hoping the final result lands between the two, winning both wagers.
College Football Bowl Betting Strategies
Advanced Stats & Metrics: to find an edge while betting bowl games, you have to go far beyond wins and losses and basic stats because anything on the surface can be deceiving. Using advanced metrics which include yards per play, third-down percentages, red-zone success, efficiency ratings, and more.
There are so many advanced stats these days, it’s hard to know which ones to really take into consideration. Scoring offense and defense statistics are important, but should be taken with context.
Check out where a team ranks but also who it played to wind up ranked there and could find out some key information about whether that offense or defense is a good or bad as you think.
If you have the time, dig into the two team’s schedules and see if there are any comparable opponents in terms of strengths and weaknesses, and look for player matchups to exploit. One team may have a couple of tall receivers that can catch over smaller defensive backs or an excellent pass rush that the opposing offensive line isn’t equipped for.
Know Player Availability: It’s very common, especially when we aren’t talking about a big-time bowl game, for players to sit out. This could be seniors heading off for a career in the professional ranks, or it could be a coach just trying to get a look at some younger players in a game that really doesn’t mean much. Either way, you need to know player availability when it comes to betting on bowl games.
Don’t be caught off guard by a backup quarterback starting for your team, or not realizing the coordinator had been let go and this won’t be the same routine this group went through all season. There’s usually plenty of time leading up to a bowl game to lock down this information.
Motivation Matters: If you think everybody is equally excited about playing a bowl game, you’re sorely mistaken. At every level of bowl season, from the first matchup until New Year’s Day, there’s a motivational letdown for certain teams.
After a near-perfect (albeit shortened) season in 2020, the Indiana Hoosiers were still the No. 7 team in the nation and going to a New Year’s Six bowl game, its biggest assignment since the 1990 Peach Bowl. Its only loss was to Ohio State and now, this team would cap off its best football season in who knows how long. And what happened? An under .500 Ole Miss team favored by 10 points beat Indiana straight up. And it happens all the time.
It can also go the other way, where teams are there to prove a point. In 2014, TCU was left out of the College Football Playoff and felt it was deserving. So it turned around and destroyed No. 9 Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl despite its disappointment.
Fade Mediocre Power Five Schools: This isn’t a blind fade on every .500 SEC school that goes to a bowl game you know it doesn’t care about. Think of it as a combination of knowing which players are out there and judging a team’s motivation. If we are looking for a motivational letdown, it can usually happen to Power Five schools, which leads us to our next strategy.
But it does mean to take an extra look at these teams, starting with the roster that will be on the field. As mentioned above, this can be an opportunity for coaches to get a look at depth players that didn’t get much of a chance to play because f the uber-competitive regular-season schedule.
You also need to consider whether you can expect the same level of motivation from these teams. If a program such as South Carolina has a .500 season, it goes to something like the Belk Bowl against an 8-4 ACC team like Virginia. The big-time program is naturally favored by a few points just because of reputation, but these situations can be some of the best betting value.
This situation happened in 2018, and Virginia went on to win 26-0 in a game South Carolina wasn’t ready to play because they wanted the season to end.
Weather Reports: The weather (or lack thereof) can have a huge impact on a game, so being aware of game conditions is a must. Because bowl games are being played in December and January, matchups can feature inclement conditions that can mess with results and more specifically, totals.
Anyone betting an over/under needs to be aware of any rain or wind potentially in the forecast. The same goes for a game taking place in a dome or with perfect weather. If you’re taking an over with high-octane passing offenses in 15+ MPH winds, you could be in for a rude awakening.
NCAA Bowl Game Bonuses And Promotions