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How to Bet on College Football

OddsChecker's guide to betting on college football. We break it down as simply as possible so that you know how to bet on football.
Fri, October 27, 4:20 AM EDT | 3 min read

There's nothing better than waking up on a crisp fall morning to the sound of footballs whizzing past the 50-yard line. Some fans spend all year waiting for the NCAA football season to begin, and many are constantly searching for new ways to get engaged. What better way to ramp up the excitement than with a wager? If you're interested in partaking in this pastime, you'll need to know how to bet on college football. Luckily, OddsChecker is here to help. Read on to discover how to bet on college football online or in-person, including terminology, betting types, popular college events, and all the places you can wager from legally today.

Understanding the Terminology

If you want to learn how to bet on college football games, you'll need to master the lingo. These are terms you'll often hear in the world of NCAAF betting, and you'll seem like a real professional once you've got them down.

Betting Against the Spread

College football bets made "against the spread" are based around a points spread. The points spread is a handicap number predetermined by the sportsbook, which basically sets out how many points a team must win or lose by for you to win your bet. You'll see odds for spread betting laid out like this:

College Football Betting Odds

We can tell by the (-) symbol next to the points spread margin that Ohio State is the favorite in this example. At the end of the game, they'll have 30.5 points taken away from their score for the purpose of the wager. This means that if you bet on them, they would have to win by 31 points or more for you to win the wager.

We can also tell by the (+) symbol next to the points spread margin that Alabama is the underdog. They'll have 30.5 points added to their score at the end of the game. If you bet on 'Bama, they would have to either win the game outright or lose it by no more than 31 points. As you can see, a points spread evens the playing field and keeps fans betting on both sides.


When you're learning how to bet on college football, you may decide to start with Moneyline wagers. A Moneyline wager is made on who will win the game outright, and it's probably the simplest type of bet around. The odds will be laid out like this:

College Football Betting Moneylines Example

Alabama is the underdog in this example, as indicated by the (+) symbol next to the 170. The underdog's odds always show the amount of money you would win with a $100 bet. Alabama's odds of +170 mean that if you were to bet $100 on them and win, you would net $170 in profit.

Ohio State is the favorite in this example, as shown by the (-) symbol next to the 200. The favorite's odds always indicate the amount of money you would have to bet to win $100. Ohio State's odds of -200 mean that to win $100, you'd have to bet $200.

Laying out the odds like this isn't even, but it's the sportsbook's way of attracting bettors to both sides and evening out the lines. While the odds may seem confusing at first, they're an essential part of learning how to bet on college football or any sport. They'll be simple once you get the hang of them, so it's a good idea to head over to the NCAAF page, the NFL Odds section, or even the or NBA Odds section to browse through all kinds of odds.

Over/Under Betting

Over/Under betting is one of the best ways to start when teaching yourself how to bet on college football games. Also known as totals betting, this wager doesn't rely on the outcome of the game. Instead, you'll be betting on the total points scored by both teams throughout the match. Here's an example of the odds for an Over/Under bet:

Here, the Over/Under spread is set at 38.5. Instead of choosing a team, you'll just choose whether you think the total points scored will be higher or lower than 38.5. If you bet Over and Alabama beats Ohio 26-13, that's a combined total of 39, and you win. However, if you bet Under on the same game, it would be a loss on your part.

Parlay Bets

A parlay is actually comprised of several different bets that are all grouped together under the same wager. The bets are called legs, and each one is made on a separate event. The legs can be anything from points spread to Moneyline bets, and you can add as many as your sportsbook allows. They're a great way to bet during Bowl season, when so many different games are being played at once.

The reason why parlay bets are so popular is that the legs pay out more under a parlay than if you were to make each wager separately. The only downside is that every single portion of your parlay bet must win for you to win the bet. Once you've chosen your legs, you can add them to your betslip and pick your wager amount. The more legs you add, the more your potential for profit increases.

Parlay bets are an integral part of betting, especially when you're learning how to bet on college football online. Web-based sportsbooks are big on parlay bets, with many offering parlay insurance and other deals. If you want to hear more info about these special offers, head over to the Free Bets section on OddsChecker to browse through the opportunities there.

Prop Bets

When you're learning how to bet on college football, prop bets can be a thrilling way to jump in the game. Instead of centering around winners and losers, prop bets are based around individual players' actions, team statistics, and sometimes just random events. You'll see prop bets ranging from which team will score first to which celebrities will show up at a game, and this can be a wildly entertaining way to make your college football bets.


Futures betting is exactly what the name implies. With this kind of wager, you'll place a bet on an event which hasn't happened yet. This is a very popular type of NCAAF betting, and you'll often see lines laid out for which teams will make it to the Rose Bowl, which team will win the Big Ten, and so on. It's also pretty popular with professional football, especially during the biggest game of the year, so you may want to check out the Super Bowls Odds if futures betting on the NFL seems right up your alley.

College Football Events

If you want to know how to bet on college football games successfully, you'll need to study up on the most popular events for college football betting:

  • Conference Rivalries: Fans love a good rivalry, and the conferences are when the competition really starts to heat up. Make sure to take part in betting for the Power 5 - the SEC, Big 10, Big 12, the Pac-12 and the ACC all deliver NCAAF betting excitement.
  • Top 25 Matchups: When titans collide, the world watches. Or at least, America watches, because these events are aired on national television. Be sure to get in there and wager while the iron is hot, especially for ranked teams at the conferences.
  • Conference Championships: As the conferences wind down, the competition heats up. The last two teams left standing in each conference will vie for the championship title, and bettors across the country will back their favorite to go on to the bowls.
  • College Bowls: Since the bowl games feature teams that aren't normally facing off on the field, they're one of the most thrilling ways to bet. The New Year's Six are the games to really get in on, so make sure to bet the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Sugar Bowl, and the Peach Bowl.
  • National Championships: This is probably the most popular time for college football bets. The National Championship Playoffs see the four most skilled teams in the country face off with the season's three biggest games. The winner takes the National Championship Title, and everyone who backed them at the bookmaker's office could take home a hefty profit as well.

How to Choose a Winning College Football Team

If you want to learn how to bet on college football games, you'll need to know how to choose a winning team. This is important for Moneyline betting and for other types of bets, as well as for developing your betting strategy.

When you go in to make a wager, consider the odds. They will tell you which team is the favorite to win the game and which team is the underdog. To get a clearer picture, we'll again use an example where Ohio State faces off against Alabama.

College Football Betting Moneylines Example

We can tell that Ohio State is the favorite to win and that Alabama is the underdog. Sportsbooks choose the favorite and underdog based on many factors, including game-day conditions, player lineups, injuries, statistics, and history.

In this example, the sportsbook could have considered that the Hornets were playing in the rain away from their home turf. Add to that a hypothetical injured quarterback, and we can see that 'Bama has a clear disadvantage - thus, it's more likely that Ohio State will be the winning team.

You can study different factors independently to make accurate predictions about which team will win. If you need some help, check out the Picks section of OddsChecker to see what our experts have to say. That way, you can make bets with confidence knowing your decisions are backed by those in the know.

List of States that You Can Bet Legally in the US

Knowing how to bet on college football online or at a retail sportsbook is only half the battle. You'll also need to know where you can bet. This can get confusing, as many states have implemented bans or limits on collegiate betting. Below, you'll find a comprehensive list of where sports betting is allowed and which rules you may have to follow to partake in NCAAF betting:

  • Colorado (No college prop bets)
  • Arkansas (No local college teams, no online betting)
  • Indiana (No local college prop bets)
  • Iowa (No local college prop bets)
  • Illinois (no local college teams)
  • Montana (no online betting)
  • New Jersey (No in-state collegiate events or local colleges)
  • New Mexico (No local college teams, no online betting)
  • New York (No local college teams, no online betting)
  • New Hampshire (Online betting only, no local colleges)
  • Nevada
  • Rhode Island (no local college teams)
  • Pennsylvania
  • Oregon (Limited in-state college betting)
  • Mississippi (No online betting)
  • Tennessee (Online betting only)
  • Washington D.C. (no local college teams)
  • West Virginia
  • Delaware (No local college teams, no online betting)


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