How to Bet on College Football

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NFL reigns supreme in terms of viewership and betting handle in the U.S., but college football is hot on its heels.

Especially in the South and Midwest, Saturdays are all about college gridiron battles. Stadiums pack out with college football fans, and in states like Alabama without a professional sports team, NCAAF is the heart and soul of sports.

This leads to many fans wanting to bet on college football.

Sportsbooks have detailed coverage of college football games with a strong focus on the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the most elite level of college football. Whether it's the SEC, Big Ten, or another conference, the 12-game regular season across the 6 major conferences provides a slew of betting opportunities.

When the bowl games roll around, betting sites step up their game, dishing out all kinds of specials and promos.

This college football betting guide breaks down how to bet on college football, explores different wager types with examples, highlights the best college football bonuses, and much more.

Table of Contents

How to Bet on College Football

Before you get some action down on college football, you should learn how betting on CFB works. In the sections ahead, we’ll guide you through the essentials and set you up for a smooth start.

Here’s a checklist of the things you should follow to get started with NCAA football betting.

1) Learn How to Read Betting Odds

Understanding how to read odds is at the core of sports betting. Without this fundamental skill, you're essentially placing bets based on gut feelings rather than informed choices.

Odds in college football work exactly the same way as in the NFL.

You don’t need a decoder ring to interpret college football odds as they’re presented in a straightforward manner. The only potential point of confusion for newcomers might be the minus and plus signs. We’ll clarify what these symbols represent below.

The sportsbooks usually display odds for the three primary NCAAF bets—moneylines, spreads, and totals— within a “basic” odds chart. For those looking to explore a broader range of wagers for that game, “more” button (typically labelled with two arrows), unveils an expanded betting slate.

While we'll delve into the specifics of each bet type soon, it's key to recognize how the odds chart labels underdogs and favorites. Why? Because your potential payout hinges on this distinction.

  • Underdogs representing outcomes that sportsbooks deem less likely (though not necessarily longshots), are marked with a plus sign. The accompanying number indicates the potential profit on a $100 wager. For instance, odds of +250 mean a successful $100 bet would yield $250 in profit.
  • Favorites, which are outcomes the books consider more probable, have a minus (–) sign. The number here reveals the stake needed to earn a $100 profit. So, with odds of -170, you'd need to wager $170 to pocket a $100 profit.

The trajectory of odds is telling: as they soar, the event's likelihood diminishes, and as they dip, its probability grows.

2) Understand the Types of Bets

To truly get the hang of how to bet on NCAA football, it's essential to understand the diverse bet types at your disposal. We'll break them down for you, using real-world examples to make everything clear and relatable.

  • Moneylines. This is a straightforward bet on the game's winner. Let's say you place $100 on Kansas State to triumph in their Big 12 matchup at +120 odds. If they come out on top, you pocket $120, no matter the margin of victory. It's worth noting that moneylines usually factor in overtime. So, if the game heads into OT at a 20-20 tie and Kansas State clinches a 27-20 victory, your bet is a winner.
  • Spreads. This wager focuses on the margin of victory. Take for instance Ohio State playing against Michigan. If Ohio State is marked as a -2.5 favorite, they must win by at least 3 points for a spread bet on them to be successful. On the flip side, if you back Michigan, they need to either win outright or lose by 2 points or less to “cover the spread.”
  • Totals. Often referred to as over/under, this bet focuses on the cumulative points scored by both teams. The sportsbook establishes a projected total, and bettors decide if the actual combined score will be over or under that number. For instance, in a Pac-12 clash between the UCLA Bruins and the Washington Huskies, if the set line is 51.5 and you choose the under, a final score of 24-24 means you win your bet. Typically, both the over and under sides of the bet come with -110 odds, ensuring an equal payout regardless of which side you back.
  • Props. These are specialized bets focusing on specific game elements or player performances, rather than the overall outcome. They can revolve around individual player achievements or team statistics. For instance, you might bet on an LSU player to score a touchdown or wager that a Duke running back will rush for more than 75.5 yards. However, it's crucial to be aware of regional regulations regarding prop bets. In some states like Michigan, all forms are fair game, but most others have restrictions. In Massachusetts, Arizona, and Colorado, prop bets on college teams are prohibited. Indiana only permits pre-game props, while Connecticut restricts prop betting on its local college teams.
  • Futures. These bets zoom out from the immediate action, and let you predict outcomes over an entire season. Instead of focusing on a single game, you're looking at the bigger picture, like who's going to come out on top in the Pac-12 or who's taking home the National Championship trophy. Additionally, some sportsbooks provide odds for specific Bowl games, allowing you to place a bet on, for example, the Georgia Bulldogs clinching the Peach Bowl.
  • Parlays. These are combination bets where you link two or more straight bets into a single wager. Imagine choosing Syracuse to clinch a win on the moneyline and backing Air Force to cover the spread. The odds from each bet are multiplied, offering a heftier payout than placing individual bets. However, the trade-off is clear: every selection in your parlay must be correct for you to cash in. Use our Parlay Calculator to see what your odds will be based on individual selections.
  • Teasers. Think of these as customized spreads and totals where you can shift points in your favor. While this adjustment can boost your chances of winning, it also reduces the potential payout. A popular choice in NCAA football is the 6-point teaser. For instance, if Tennessee State starts as a +2.5 underdog, a 6-point teaser would move them to +8.5, significantly enhancing the likelihood of them covering the spread.
  • Round Robins. These are essentially mini parlays created from 3+ selections. Say you want to bet Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State all to win. Instead of making a single three-team parlay, a round-robin bet would create three separate two-team parlays: Alabama-Clemson, Alabama-Ohio State, and Clemson-Ohio State. This approach gives you a wider safety net, as you can still see returns even if one of your picks loses.

3) Choose a Sportsbook

Now that you have betting on college football all figured out, the next step is to find the right sportsbook to place your wagers. There are certain factors to consider when choosing the best platform.

If you'd rather skip the manual search, our Best College Football Betting Sites Guide has done the legwork for you. We've identified the top contenders and detailed why they’re ahead of the pack.

If you decide to take on the task of scouting for the best college football betting sites, you should focus solely on sites licensed in the U.S. While those offshore books like Bovada might tempt you with flashy bonuses, they're not only illegal but some are also sketchy—you could get ripped off.

Bonuses rank highly for bettors looking for NCAAF sportsbooks, and for good reason: the right deal can give your betting bankroll a big lift. Naturally, you'd gravitate towards a sportsbook offering a generous welcome bonus, but it's also worth checking if they have promotions tailored specifically for NCAAF.

Market variety is an equally important consideration. A top-tier sportsbook should not only offer the standard bets but also an extensive array of props. Even if some props appear random or outlandish, those with deep insights can often find value and capitalize on them.

When evaluating NCAA football betting sites, you should also weigh factors like user experience, payout speed, betting limits, available features, and the quality of customer service.

With that in mind, after mastering how to bet on college football, here are our top-recommended sportsbooks to consider:

  • FanDuel. FanDuel is the most popular sportsbook in the U.S. and one of our choices for the best sportsbooks. Their NCAAF futures section is particularly impressive, with odds on national championships, individual team win totals, and more. Unique futures such as whether a team will go undefeated or if the LSU quarterback will surpass 40 TDs while USC clinches the Pac 12 are just a few of cool options available.
  • Caesars. Caesars is one of our top-rated sportsbooks for NCAAF betting. It stands out with its simplistic design industry's largest welcome bonus. You can use the bonus credits on college football bets. A major highlight at Caesars is their extensive offering of daily odds boosts—they provide more than any other book, and that includes boosts for NCAAF. You should check out the Quick Picks feature, which crafts instant parlays, potentially pairing selections like Alabama clinching the NCAA championship with Jalen Hurts exceeding 10.5 rushing TDs.
  • BetMGM. BetMGM is one of our best-featured sportsbooks that scores well in all categories across the board. What truly sets them apart is their localized offerings. If you're browsing from Colorado, for instance, you'll discover futures bets specifically around the state's local college teams. This means you might see options like Colorado securing 4+ victories or Colorado State winning the Mountain West Championship.
  • BetRivers. BetRivers should be on your radar and not just for college football betting. Their -110 lines on spreads and totals are a reliable standard, so you're always getting a fair shake. Additionally, their selection of game props for NCAAF is commendable, featuring options like which team will score first, which will hit 20 points first, and combination bets like ‘X team to score first and win'.

Roll with Multiple Books and Tap Into their Promotional Offerings

It's wise to diversify your sportsbook portfolio, even if you have a favorite. By registering with multiple platforms, you can maximize the benefits of various bonuses and promotions. For example, while your go-to book might not have odds boosts for college football, another might. Additionally, welcome bonuses are typically a one-time deal, so to truly capitalize on these offers, branching out to multiple sportsbooks is the way to go.

Diversifying your sportsbook choices isn't just about bonuses; it's a key strategy for those serious about their betting game. Having accounts with multiple sportsbooks is a savvy move for those looking to master how to bet on college football effectively. Line shopping, or comparing odds across different platforms, allows you to pinpoint the most favorable lines. This strategy maximizes your potential returns.

4) Check Out the Sign-Up Bonus

Once you’ve registered at your chosen sportsbook, head straight over to the promo section to claim the welcome bonus. Each college football betting site offers an intro promo for fresh signups. The sheer magnitude of these bonuses makes them deal-breakers for a lot of bettors.

Typically, you'll come across three main types of sign-up bonuses:

  1. Up to $X back in bonus bets. A refund bonus that’s typically tied to your first bet at the sportsbook. How this works is that if your first bet loses, the sportsbook will reimburse you up to a specified amount—typically between $100 and $1,000. Note that these were previously referred to as risk-free bets.
  2. Deposit match. Deposit matches are rare and how they work is that the sportsbook will match a portion of your first deposit in bonus credits. For instance, you may come across a 20% match up to $1,000, which means that if you were to deposit $500 you would get an extra $100 of bonus credits to play with.
  3. Bet & Get. Place a small bet and get $X amount of bonus credits, that’s the crux of it. These are becoming a staple among books now, with most offering around $200 in bonus credits for placing a small bet (around $5). This makes these offers a great fit for casual bettors.

Whichever of these offers your sportsbook runs, make sure to check the T&Cs attached, namely any market/odds restrictions and time limitations.

You can see current sports betting sign-up bonuses here.

By signing up with multiple sportsbooks, you can use their welcome bonuses to hedge bets and reduce risk. Place the free bet on longer odds and hedge with real money on the opposite outcome at another book. For precise hedging strategies using these bonuses, refer to our free bet calculator guide.

5) Make a Deposit

Taking the next step is straightforward. Look for the “Deposit” tab, usually highlighted in the header menus. Clicking on it reveals various payment methods, from debit/credit cards and online banking to e-wallets like PayPal.

Choose your preferred method, input the deposit amount, and if you have a bonus code (available on our pages), enter it. After confirming the transaction, your funds should appear in your account almost immediately.

6) Place Your First Bet

If you’re ready to place your first bet, we’ll walk you through how to get started. We’ll use FanDuel as reference, though the steps are pretty much universal across most NCAA betting sites:

  1. Start by selecting college football or NCAAF from the left sidebar. It's often found in the “popular” section.
  2. Pick the game you're interested in.
  3. Explore the available bets. They're organized into subcategories for easy navigation. If you're keen on Same Game Parlays, there's a dedicated tab for that.
  4. Once you've made your selections, they'll appear on the betting slip to the right or the bottom of your screen. Review your choices, enter the amount you want to stake, and then press the green button to finalize your bet.

7) Track Your Progress

Keeping a record of your bets is essential. It allows you to identify your strengths and weaknesses in betting, ensuring you make informed decisions. By monitoring your wins and losses, you can pinpoint which bets yield the best results for you.

This not only helps refine your college football betting strategies but also ensures you're wagering within your means, promoting responsible betting habits.

8) Continue to Gamble Responsibly

Always prioritize responsible gambling. Only wager what you're comfortable losing, and resist the urge to chase losses when things don't go your way.

Winning streaks can be exhilarating, but it's crucial not to get overconfident and start placing bets recklessly. Remember, every bet should be a calculated decision, not a reaction to emotions.

*Special offers from our partners. May vary by state. Must be 21+. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER. **Bonus Bets Expire in 7 Days. One New Customer Offer Only. Add’l terms.

Our Partners

Sign-Up Bonus

Next Steps

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States: AZ, CO, CT, IL, IN, IA, KY, KS, LA, MA MD, MI, NJ, OH, NY, PA, TN, WV, WY, VA.

$1,000 First Bet on Caesars

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Second Chance Bet Up to $500

States: AZ, CO, DE, IL, IN, IA, LA, MD, MI, NJ, NY, OH, PA, VA, WV

Where Can You Legally Bet on College Football

State

Online

In-Person

Arizona

Yes

Yes

Arkansas

NoYes

Colorado

YesYes

Connecticut

Yes

Yes

Delaware

NoYes

District of Columbia

YesYes

Florida

Suspended

Suspended

Illinois

YesYes

Indiana

YesYes

Iowa

Yes

Yes

Kansas

Yes

Yes

Louisiana

Yes

Yes

Maryland

Yes

Yes

Massachusetts

Coming soon

Yes

Michigan

YesYes

Mississippi

NoYes

Montana

NoYes

Nebraska

NoComing soon

Nevada

YesYes

New Hampshire

YesYes

New Jersey

YesYes

New Mexico

NoYes

New York

YesYes

North Carolina

NoYes

Ohio

Yes

Yes

Oregon

YesYes

Pennsylvania

YesYes

Rhode Island

YesYes

South Dakota

NoYes

Tennessee

YesNo

Virginia

YesYes

Washington

NoComing soon

West Virginia

Yes

Yes

Wyoming

Yes

No

Best College Football Sign-Up Bonuses

Must be 21+ in most states. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER

Sportsbook

States

Sign Up Bonus*

Promo Code

FanDuel

AZ, CO, CT, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MA MI, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV, WY

Bet $5, Get $150 in Bonus Bets

Not needed

Caesars

AZ, CO, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, NV, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV, WY

$1,000 First Bet on Caesars

OA1000

BetMGM

AZ, CO, FL, IN, IA, KY, LA, MD, MA, MI, NV, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV, WY

Bet $5, Get $150 in Bonus Bets**

ODDS100

bet365

CO, IA, KY, LA, NJ, OH, VA

Bet $5, Get $150 in Bonus Bets

Not needed

BetRivers

AZ, CO, IL, IN, IA, LA, MA, MI, NJ, NY, OH, PA, VA, WV​

Second Chance Bet Up to $500

ODDS1

SugarHouse

PA

Second Chance Bet Up to $500

ODDS1

Betway

AZ, CO, IN, IA, LA, NJ, OH, PA, VA

Bonus Bet Up to $250

Not needed

SI Sportsbook

CO, MI, VA

100% Deposit Match Up to $100

Not needed

Unibet

AZ, IN, NJ, PA, VA

$500 Second Chance Bet

Not needed

DraftKings

AZ, CO, CT, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA, TN, VA, WV, WY

20% Deposit Match Up to $1,000

Not needed

Barstool

AZ, CO, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, NJ, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV

Up to $1,00 Back in Bonus Bets

Not needed

Hard Rock

NJ

First Bet Match Up to $100

Not needed

*May vary by state.
**Bonus Bets Expire in 7 Days. One New Customer Offer Only. Add’l terms.

Tips for Betting on NCAA Football

Here are a few tips that can help you win more consistently with NCAA football betting:

  • Home Field Advantage. College football crowds can be particularly passionate. Factor in the home-field advantage more than you might with professional sports.
  • Rivalry Games. Emotions run high during rivalry games, and underdogs often outperform expectations. Don't just go by the stats in these matchups.
  • Weather Conditions. Some college teams excel in adverse weather conditions due to their geographical location. Check the forecast before placing bets, especially for totals.
  • Backup Players: Stay updated on team rosters. In college football, a star player's injury can have a more significant impact than in the NFL.
  • Coaching Changes: Teams can undergo significant shifts in strategy and performance with coaching changes. Keep an eye on teams with new coaches or coordinators.

College Football Betting FAQs

How to bet on college football?
Start by understanding the basics of different bet types. Choose a reputable sportsbook, sign up, deposit funds, and then select the NCAAF game you want to wager on. Always do your research and consider factors like team stats, injuries, and recent performance.

Is betting on college football legal in the U.S.?
Yes, but it varies by state. Some states allow full-scale sports betting, while others have restrictions, especially on in-state college teams.

Can I bet live during a college football game?
Yes, all sportsbooks offer live NCAAF betting, allowing you to place bets as the action unfolds in real time.

Are college football odds different from NFL odds?
While the structure of the odds is the same, the actual odds can differ due to the nature of college football, with its larger pool of teams and often more unpredictable outcomes.

How do I find the best odds for a specific game?
It's recommended to have accounts on multiple sportsbooks and compare the odds they offer for the same game. This strategy, known as line shopping, can help you find the most favorable odds.

*Special offers from our partners. May vary by state. Must be 21+. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER. **Bonus Bets Expire in 7 Days. One New Customer Offer Only. Add’l terms.

Our Partners

Sign-Up Bonus

Next Steps

Bet $5, Get $150 in Bonus Bets

States: AZ, CO, CT, IL, IN, IA, KY, KS, LA, MA MD, MI, NJ, OH, NY, PA, TN, WV, WY, VA.

$1,000 First Bet on Caesars

States: AZ, CO, IL, IN, IA, KY, KS, MD, MA, MI, NJ, NY, NV, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV, WY

Bet $5, Get $150 in Bonus Bets**

States: AZ, CO, IL, IN, IA, KY, KS, LA, MA, MD, MI, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV, WY

Second Chance Bet Up to $500

States: AZ, CO, DE, IL, IN, IA, LA, MD, MI, NJ, NY, OH, PA, VA, WV

Dave Rathmanner

Dave Rathmanner is the Founder & CEO of Odds Assist. After struggling to find helpful sports betting resources and honest reviews when he first started betting, he decided to create the site he always wished he had. Dave has been betting on sports since NJ legalized it in 2018 and regularly analyzes sportsbooks to find the best options for bettors. Aside from creating new content for OA readers, Dave is also passionate about researching betting markets, creating models, and developing profitable betting strategies.