American football at the collegiate level may be considered “amateur” when compared to the National Football League, but in terms of passion, spectacle and marketing it is on par with the professional iteration and for some surpasses it. With about 130 Division I programs in America divided among 11 conferences, college football has a much further reach and represents pockets of the country that the NFL and other pro sports leagues have no presence.
Individual teams will generally play around 12 to 13 games per season, creating hundreds of opportunities for college football betting during the regular season alone. Then come conference championship games and bowl season, featuring over 41 additional games played at sites around the nation.
With loads more football action on tap than with NFL betting and upsets are a regular occurrence, college football betting is a Wild West of fun and excitement. You never know when a top team might slip up and who might win this year’s installment of a century-long rivalry. It can be a tough market to navigate, so let’s break down some of the best ways to understand college football odds and get into some general betting tips.
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NCAA odds are determined by a wide variety of factors and organized in a way similar to other American sports. The moneyline is a positive or negative integer that accompanies the favourite and the underdog of each matchup. A positive integer identifies the amount of money that would be won on a C$100 wager while a negative number identifies how much money needs to be wagered in order for the bettor to win C$100.
For example if the Alabama Crimson Tide are favoured in a game with a moneyline of -180, the bettor must wager C$180 to win C$100 if the Tide win. If the Florida Gators are an underdog in a game with a moneyline of +250, then a bet on the Gators of C$100 would pay C$250 if they can get the upset victory. Payouts are obviously determined proportionally based on the wagered amount and moneyline.
Point spreads determine the basis for spread betting. For example if Alabama is favoured over Florida by 14 points then the Crimson Tide would need to win by two touchdowns or more to cover the spread. If a bettor picked Florida against the spread, however, they would only need the Gators to lose by less than 14 points or beat the Tide to win.
Totals are the number of points expected to be scored by both teams over the course of a game. They can often be combined with other types of bets to maximize payouts, as their own payouts tend to be fairly even. For example betting the over 50.5 of an Alabama and Florida game may only feature a moneyline of +125. However, betting the over plus an Alabama victory would help increase the difficulty of winning, but also maximize potential winnings.
College football is an unpredictable sport, as the same teams ranked in the Top 25 at the beginning of each season are seldom the same at the end of the road. Teams rise and fall based on their abilities to respond to pressure and challenges over the grueling but relatively short schedule. One loss can ruin a teams chances of winning a national championship, meaning every single game matters for every single team, and that can lead to some truly earth-shattering results every single week.
While the NFL may struggle with attendance from time to time, college football’s ravenous fanbases often fill stadiums to the brim for big matchups. That creates environments of screaming fanatics that are among the most difficult on opposing teams in sports. Throw in the fact that these are often the biggest stages young athletes have played on, and you have a serious factor to consider when making picks.
It’s important to consider that while opposing players no doubt feel the heat in road games, the pressure associated with performing in front of a massive crowd of fans and classmates can affect the home team as well.
Having a look at the forecasted weather conditions before betting on a game is never a bad strategy, and in college football weather can play a heightened role. Snowy and rainy conditions in particular can effect player’s ability to grip footballs and can lead to defense-driven outcomes or games in which running the football dominates offensive gameplans.
Most conference opponents play each other every single season, and this can lead to familiarity between programs. One team’s winning streak, therefore, against another is something to consider as this can be an intangible factor weighing on player’s minds. Sometimes a team’s inability to defeat another regular opponent may have seemingly nothing to do with actual skill. This can help inform bettors for certain upset bets and picks leading up to such matchups.
Even more so than the NFL, the college football game can at times be taken over by a particularly skilled offensive player. By and large, college football defenses are weaker than their pro counterparts, so a team with a Heisman contender or game-breaking offensive players can win simply based on their stars going off on any given Saturday.
NCAA Football’s postseason provides one of the most exciting spectacles of the sports year with a variety of different events, including conference championships, dozens of bowl games and the College Football Playoff, all culminating the National Championship Game.
Most conferences have a championship game, as maintaining one has recently been revealed by pollsters as an important factor in picking the top 4 teams at the end of the regular season. Currently the Pac-12, American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, Mid-American Conference, Sun Belt, Big 12, Southeastern Conference, Southwestern Athletic Conference, Mountain West Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference and Big Ten all host conference championship games.
These games usually present an exciting scenario, as obvious bragging rights are on the line and sometimes even a shot at the national title hangs in the balance. A team that does not win its conference title is often considered not worthy of advancing to the college football playoff, meaning these games heap loads of pressure on top teams.
Against conference competition that they often know best, underdogs and upsets are interesting picks in these games, as spoiling a rival’s chances at playoff glory can make or break a team’s season success story and even land them a coveted position in a New Year’s Six bowl game. These games, therefore carry with them an extra “oomph” and can certainly be more fun to bet on than the run-of-the-mill regular-season matchup, or even a bowl game.
At the end of the regular season comes bowl season. Here most teams with at least a winning record are rewarded by an extra game in a usually vacation-like locale for the chance to win a trophy. Some bowls might not carry the prestige of others, and some teams may even check out of bowl games because of failure to reach the Playoff. But most often, the teams put on a show for a nationwide holiday-minded audience.
The New Years Six are the most prestigious of these contests by far and include The Cotton Bowl Classic in Arlington, Texas; the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona; the Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Florida; the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia; the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California; and the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Louisiana.
These highly anticipated games often bring out the best in teams, with exciting finishes and results that are remembered in the annals of college football history. For that reason, teams that have come a long way and given big chances to shine under the bright lights can use these bowls to write storybook endings to underdog seasons.
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