There’s not much that distinguishes betting on NCAA football from betting on professional football, and we’ve already covered betting the NFL here. So we’ll keep this short and sweet, highlighting the few key distinctions that exist between betting on college kids and their well-compensated older brothers in the NFL, and why wagering on college ball is more attractive to some bettors.
Bigger spreads (And what to do with them?)
The biggest difference between NCAA and NFL football is the lack of parity. There are 128 programs in the FBS, and the gap between the best and worst teams is astronomical.
As a result, you will see point spreads in college that will never see in the NFL. The largest closing spread in NFL history is 27 points, and that’s only happened on two occasions. You’ll see numbers bigger than that on the NCAA board almost every weekend.(Side note: the odds will be posted every Sunday after the majority of the weekend’s games are over.)
So, while options like teasers, explained here, are available for college, they aren’t particularly popular, because moving a 31-point spread by six points doesn’t make a huge impact. And since matchups are rarely on even footing, moneyline plays aren’t often worthwhile on their own; instead, they’re best stacked up in a parlay. That leaves spread betting and game totals as the only real options for single college bets on a weekly basis.
Bigger totals (And what to do with them?)
Not only will NCAA football have larger spreads, the game totals can also be massive compared to the pros. That’s thanks to a few factors; first, college football features a lot of inferior defenses. Second, not all wins are equal, since the college rankings (i.e. Coaches’ Poll, AP Poll, CFP Poll) aren’t based on wins and losses, alone; there’s a premium on blowing out opponents in order to convince the voters of your true strength and solidify your “bowl resume.” In some instances, you’ll have to pick over or under 80 total points in a game, and the public will be split.
Why pick college over the NFL?
Even though they’re markedly similar, betting on college may be more alluring to bettors versus betting on the NFL for a couple reasons. The most obvious is that it can create interest in an otherwise non-competitive and basically meaningless Ohio State (-30) vs Rutgers matchup. It can also let bettors back their alma mater, something alumni are frequently keen to do.
Backing your school
However, not every sportsbook has an extensive offering of college football games. If you went to a smaller school, like an FCS/Division II institution, there may not be many places you can bet on your school. If you’re getting into sports betting in order to support alma mater, make sure you pick a sportsbook that frequently posts lines for your team.
If and when you do find a sportsbook with a broad NCAA selection, you will likely have also stumbled upon a sportsbook with a broad range of prop bets for each game. Some books may just have a few alternate spreads and halftime lines, while others will have far more extensive options, including player props.
Intriguing futures market
The lopsided nature of college ball can make getting any value in betting a chore on a weekly basis. But it does make the futures market a far more attractive play. There are usually only a handful of teams with a realistic chance of winning the national championship in a given season, or even a conference title. The College Football Playoff ranking system – which sees the four playoff teams chosen by an “expert” selection committee — basically means a team’s playoff chances are shot if it loses two games. (In the short three-year history of the CFP system, no team has qualified for the four-team playoff with two losses on its resume.)
Add in the fact that college season is the shortest betting season, featuring just 12 regular season games, and you’ll know if the teams you backed are winners far sooner than in any other league.
Win totals are also available, but not for every program. Typically, only a select number of power schools are available for betting at online books. Keep in mind that win totals only include the regular season: conference championships and bowl game wins won’t count toward a team’s win total.