How to Bet on College Football Games Online

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College football betting is one of the most popular markets at sportsbooks across the US.

In our how to bet on college football guide, we’ll first examine basic bets including point spreads, moneylines, and totals. We’ll then move on to discuss more complex bets including futures, props, parlays, and teasers.

What are Point Spreads, Moneylines, and Totals?

Let’s use a real-world betting line from DraftKings to explain how point spreads, moneylines, and totals work. This betting line was offered on the Alabama-Texas game on Sept. 9:

TeamSpreadMoneylineTotal
Alabama-20.5 (-110)-1400O 61.5 (-110)
Texas+20.5 (-110)+850U 61.5 (-110)

The point spread either subtracts (-) or adds (+) points from a team’s final score. Think of it as the great equalizer as the spread levels the playing field between two opposing teams.

Alabama is a big favorite on the road against Texas. The Crimson Tide are laying (or giving) 20.5 points to the Longhorns. This means Alabama needs to win by three touchdowns (21 points) to cover the spread. 

Texas, as the underdog, is getting 20.5 points on the spread. This means the Longhorns can lose by 20 points and still cover the spread.

You’ll notice there are odds of -110 on both sides of the spread bet. These are standard odds in sports betting, meaning you have to bet $11 to win $10. Sportsbooks charge a fee to handle your bet and this is known as the vig or juice. At standard odds of -110, the vig computes to 4.36%.

Moneyline odds are offered on teams to win the game outright. The final margin of score is irrelevant. You just need your chosen team to get the “W” in this case. 

Alabama is -1400 on the moneyline. This means you’d need to bet $1,400 on the Crimson Tide to win $100. Conversely, you could bet $100 to win $850 on Texas. Remember, the team you bet on the moneyline just needs to win the game.

The total is also known as the over-under. Why? Because you’re betting Over or Under a set number of points. In this case, the total was set at 61.5 for the combined number of points scored by both teams. 

The total was also offered at standard odds of -110 on both sides of the bet. A $110 bet on the Over and Under returns $100 if you choose the correct side. An important note here: $100 is used as a benchmark figure to help make sports betting calculations easier. You don’t need to bet that much. You can bet $5, $10, $50, or $500 — whatever works for your budget and bankroll. 

How do Futures Odds Work in College Betting?

Futures odds are offered on championship-deciding games or events such as the college football national championship game. Let’s look at futures odds on the 2023 national champion in college football, via FanDuel:

TeamFanDuel Odds
Alabama+160
Georgia+250
Ohio State+300
Clemson+1200
USC+1600
Texas A&M+3000
Michigan+3500
Oklahoma+5000
Miami+8000
Florida+8000

These are the top-10 betting favorites to win the national championship in college football. Alabama is the favorite at +160. These are short odds, as a $100 bet returns just $160 (and your original $100 stake back). Moving down the oddsboard, a $100 bet on Oklahoma at +5000 odds pays out $5,000 (plus your original $100 stake) if the Sooners win the national title. Futures odds are available on teams to win their respective conference championship, too.

Futures odds are also offered on season-ending awards such as the Heisman Trophy. Caesars Sportsbook was dealing Alabama QB Bryce Young as the +300 betting favorite (as of this writing). Young won the Heisman Trophy last year, and a $100 bet on him to repeat returns $300 if he captures the Heisman again. Gaming Today’s Travis Pulver wrote this informative piece suggesting college football bettors should consider longshots instead of Young.

Prop Bets

Prop bets are wagers made on things that aren’t directly tied to the actual outcome of a game. The best example comes in the form of player props. You can bet over or under the number of rushing, receiving, and passing yards a player has in a game. 

Parlays

With parlay bets, you need to wager on multiple outcomes (a minimum of two) and they all need to be correct to cash the ticket. Let’s look at this two-team parlay from Week 1 of the college football season. 

Parlay Bet: 

$100 to win $260 

Notre Dame (+17) vs. Ohio State  

Florida State (+4) vs. LSU

This parlay ticket cashed after Notre Dame lost 21-10 to Ohio State, and Florida State defeated LSU by a score of 24-23. 

Notre Dame was getting 17 points, and it only lost by 11. Florida State was getting four points, and it won the game outright. Both of our chosen outcomes (or legs) of the parlay were correct. A two-team parlay with standard odds of -110 on both games pays out at 2.6-1.

What if you had a successful three-team parlay? That pays out at 6-1. The more legs you add, the higher the payout you receive. A four-team parlay pays out at 11-1 odds, for example.

It’s important to note here that parlays are inherently harder to win because you need all of the outcomes to be correct to cash your ticket. Higher payouts can be enticing, but just remember that parlays are more difficult to win. Use Gaming Today’s free parlay calculator to determine the odds, implied probability of winning, and potential payout for your parlay bets in the future.

Teasers

Teasers work in a similar fashion to parlays, but you can adjust the spread in your favor with these bets. The most popular teaser for college football is a two-team, six-point teaser. Let’s use the same two games from Week 1 above to see how a teaser works.

Teaser Bet: 

$120 to win $100 

Notre Dame (+23) vs. Ohio State  

Florida State (+10) vs. LSU

You can see the adjusted spreads for Notre Dame and Florida State. We’ve added six points to each team’s original spread.  

With this type of teaser, you’re betting $12 to win $10, or $120 to win $100. This teaser obviously cashed, but critics will insist that these are sucker bets given the lack of value. You’re paying more for the privilege of adjusting the spread in your favor, but you still need multiple outcomes to be correct to cash a winning ticket. 

One tip for betting teasers: Always try to adjust spreads so they cross through key numbers such as 3, 7, 14, 17, 21, and so on. This gives you a better chance of winning these bets. 

College Football Betting Tips 

Let’s now discuss a couple of different ways to approach how to bet on college football games.

Fading the Public

This approach appeals to contrarian bettors and applies more to nationally televised games featuring a popular team. Let’s use Notre Dame vs. Ohio State as our example once again. 

Both teams have a rabid following but the Buckeyes are expected to be in the mix for a national championship this season. This season opener on Sept. 2 saw Ohio State favored by 17 points, and plenty of talking heads on TV suggested that number would be covered easily by Ohio State’s dynamic offense led by QB C.J. Stroud. 

When there’s a lot of public money coming in on one side, that presents an opportunity to go the other way. In this case, we bet Notre Dame +17 and the final score was Ohio State, 21-10. A lower-scoring game than most pundits expected! The Fighting Irish covered the spread in Week 1.

There’s another great example of fading the public in the NFL’s season opener on Sept. 8. The Buffalo Bills were -2.5 favorites over the Los Angeles Rams at FanDuel, where 73% of the bets and 81% of the handle (money wagered) was on Buffalo. 

Westgate SuperBook VP of Risk Management Ed Salmons told Gaming Today that public money was pouring in on Buffalo at his sportsbook on parlays. He believed the number might move to Buffalo -3 by kickoff, and that Los Angeles provided great value at that number. This is a prime example of fading the public by betting on the Rams.

Middling 

This is a strategy that’s employed on fewer occasions as it requires a disparity in the point spread or total offered on a college football game at multiple sportsbooks.

Let’s keep it simple and hypothetically say Alabama is favored by 23.5 points to beat Texas at one sportsbook and only favored by 20.5 at another. The three-point disparity is the middle in this example. 

Let’s say you already bet Alabama -20.5 earlier in the week, and now Texas is getting an additional 3 points on the spread. You now bet Texas +23.5 and hope for the final score to end up in the middle. For example, if Alabama wins by three touchdowns, you cash both bets as winners.

How to Bet on College Football Games FAQ

Is it legal to bet on college football online?

Yes, as long as the state you reside in has legalized sports betting. If so, the easiest way to bet on college football is by downloading a licensed sports betting app such as BetMGM, DraftKings, Caesars Sportsbook, PointsBet, FanDuel, BetRivers, or Unibet.

How do you bet on a college football game?

There are several ways to bet on a college football game. We covered the basics including point spreads, moneylines, and totals in this review. We’ve also discussed more complex bets such as futures, props, parlays, and teasers.

Does DraftKings have college football?

Yes. DraftKings offers betting on college football, and the sportsbook is known for dealing highly competitive odds. 

Who has the best Vegas odds on college football?

This depends on your bet. It’s always prudent to compare the odds being offered at different sportsbooks. That’s why Gaming Today recommends opening accounts at more than one legal and licensed sportsbook. It’ll allow you to shop around the market for the best odds.

Is the favorite plus (+) or minus (-) on the point spread?

The favorite is (-) on the point spread. For example, Alabama was -20.5 against Texas as of this writing. The Crimson Tide were a road favorite and needed to win by 21 points to cover the spread.

About the Author
Kris Johnson

Kris Johnson

Writer & Contributor
Kris Johnson is a Senior Writer at Gaming Today with more than 15 years of experience as a sports journalist. Kris' work has appeared in Sports Business Daily, Sports Business Journal, NASCAR Illustrated, and more. Kris also authored a sports betting novel entitled The Endgame.

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