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College Football Betting Guide
In college towns, NCAA football is the single biggest thing going. During the season, stadiums fill with 100,000s of raucous fans. What makes this traditional Saturday ritual even more entertaining is the availability of online college football betting. NCAAF betting is for people that want action – it’s not uncommon to see 35 games being played on a single Saturday during the season.
Last updated: Sep 19, 12:02 AM UTC
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The College Football Playoffs is a four-team, single-loss knockout tournament that pits the nation’s best quartet of football programs against each other and crowns a national champion.
With the national rankings decided at the end of the regular season, the No.1 ranked team plays No.4, and the No.2 plays No.3 in each semifinal, with the winners meeting in the College Football Playoff National Championship game. This format was only introduced in 2014, with Alabama making it to the playoffs six of a possible seven times and winning the national title three times.
Alabama Crimson Tide
The Alabama Crimson Tide won their sixth national championship since 2009, defeating No.3 seed Ohio State 52-24 as 9.5-point favorites. Alabama scored four touchdowns in the second quarter alone thanks to the heroics of wide receiver DeVonta Smith who had 215 receiving yards and three TDs in the game’s first 30 minutes.
Heisman Trophy Winner
Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith finished his three-year collegiate career in style with 117 catches for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns this season. In doing so he won the 2020 Heisman trophy – awarded annually to the outstanding player in college football. Smith’s college football odds to win the Heisman were +5000 before the season began. He was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles with the 10th overall selection in the 2021 NFL draft.
The 2021 future markets on most college football betting sites show a very familiar group of schools. It’s no surprise Alabama has the lowest odds to repeat last season’s win. They’re followed by Clemson Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Georgia who round out the top five.
A bet on any of these schools is a wager on which one is going to win the College Football Playoff National Championship game this season. Each of these teams would likely have to win 12 or 13 games of their 13-game schedule to earn a top-four seed and a chance to play in the College Football Playoffs, where they would need to win another two games in order for our future bets to pay out.
Of the top-five schools, Oklahoma has the favorite to win the 2021 Heisman Trophy in QB Spencer Rattler.
There is a total of 10 NCAAF conferences. These ten conferences can be split up into two sections: the Power Five conferences (ACC, Big 12, BigTen, Pac-12, and SEC) and the Group of Five conferences (AAC, C-USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt). The Power Five conference is the more prominent of the two and contains all the big-name schools.
Like other NCAAF future bets, we can bet on which team will win their respective conferences. Last year’s Power Five conference winners included Oregon (PAC-12), Ohio State (BigTen), Oklahoma (Big 12), Clemson (ACC), and Alabama (SEC).
Heading into the 2021 NCAAF season, some familiar faces are the NCAAF odds-on favorites to win their conferences. USC, in the PAC-21, are the only non-reigning champion going into this season as a favorite to win a title.
Betting on college football’s most outstanding player (the Heisman Trophy winner) is one of the more popular NCAAF future bets and college football picks. Last year’s winner, DeVonta Smith was +200 entering the final few weeks of the schedule but was +5000 to open the year.
With Smith winning in 2020, he became just the second non-quarterback to receive the awards since 2010. If we’re looking to cash in on a Heisman winner, picking a quarterback is usually a good starting point.
Based on the preseason Heisman winner odds, it’s all QBs in the top five. This list includes Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler (who starred in the Netflix documentary ‘QB1: Beyond the Lights’), Alabama’s Bryce Young, Clemson’s D.J. Uiagalelei, North Carolina’s Sam Howell, and Miami’s D'Eriq King. The best non-QB on the list is Texas running back Bijan Robinson.
The world of rushing to get our bets in before kickoff is over. Many sportsbooks that offer college football bets also offer in-play or in-game betting — sometimes referred to as live bets. The margins are usually a little higher and some promotions don’t include in-play bets, but live betting gives us the chance to get a feel on a NCAAF game before throwing down some hard-earned dollars.
If Alabama is a 22-point favorite versus Tennessee and we would like to see how the game starts and possibly get the favorite on the spread at a lower number, in-game betting allows us to wager on a constantly moving line that will differ from the pre-game line and odds.
Some NCAAF betting sites offer more markets for in-game wagers than others. These could include in-game team, game, and player props.
With all NCAAF online sportsbooks looking for new customers, it’s important that we do our due diligence and shop around and find a book — or books — that give us the best chances of winning.
For the bettor, some of these edges come in the form of promotions. Not all sportsbooks offer the same odds and with college football betting it is even more important to do the research as not all promotions that are offered for the NFL are offered for American college football.
Promotions are the strategy of the books’ marketing team and these range from matching initial deposits to giving us better odds on multiple-game parlays. Promotions are just one more tool that we can use to help give us a slight edge.
Some NFL books offer bettors protection with multiple-leg parlays called parlay insurance. Let's say we make a five-game parlay and four of the five win, parlay insurance will pay us our original wager back when most books would deem that bet a loser.
Newer sportsbooks often offer a promotion called odds boosts. The book will offer better (boosted) odds on certain wagers that move the odds into the favor of the customer. These could include spreads, totals, moneylines, and prop markets. Some books allow customers to use the boost for bets of their choice while others offer only specific plays for the boost.
When signing up for a new NFL online sportsbook, it’s important to shop around for sign-up bonuses. Some books will match customers’ first-time deposits up to a certain amount. Players will sometimes have to bet that bonus a certain number of times (called a rollover) before the money can be withdrawn.
Sometimes we bettors don’t have to sweat through an entire game before winning our bets. Early payouts are a great promotion that turns our bet into a winner if our team is winning by a certain margin, before a game is even over. If we bet on the Dallas Cowboys to win the game (moneyline) and they jump out to a 17-point lead (or whatever the book’s set number for this promotion is) we will be paid for that bet regardless of the final outcome.