The college game is a completely different animal from its NFL counterpart, providing bettors with a greater slate of games throughout the week, including 30+ matchups on Saturday alone. We will prepare by starting with the basic college football betting types, including: spread bets, moneyline, totals, parlays/teasers and halftimes.
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Just like the NFL, college football’s most popular wager is the spread bet. The spread is a type of bet that equalizes the chance of winning a wager (see example below). The spread, or line, for college football is generally released days in advance of the game (these release dates will vary due to college football’s games taking place Tuesday-Saturday). An underdog team’s spread will be accompanied with a “+”, while a “-” indicates a team that is favored. The example below demonstrates an example of a spread bet:
|Ohio State||-3 -105||31|
The juice for this game is -115 for the underdog. The juice can be thought of as a fee the bookmaker charges for you to place the bet. Typically, the juice for any side wager is -110, but several sportsbooks offer reduced juice. In this example, a winning bet of $115 would yield $100 profit, for a total of $215 ($115 bet + $100 profit = $215 total). Despite losing the game, Michigan covered the spread by losing by less than 3 points.
A Moneyline (ML) takes the spread out of the equation as bettors simply pick who they think will win the game. Different odds placed next to each team will quantify the payout of betting on either team. The example below from the SI Archive should clarify things:
As you can see, a bet of $375 on Alabama would yield a profit of $100. Generally, the Moneyline is a direct reflection of the spread. For example, the spread for this game closed at 7.5, which helps to explain the drastic ML odds. With the amount of games available on any given Saturday, a bettor may choose to parlay (see below) several big favorites, which will increase the risk AND the payout of the wager.
1st Quarter/Half Lines
Every major U.S. sport is broken down into division, whether it is quarters, halftimes, periods, or innings. Naturally, the bookmakers have made available wagers for these partitions, and for NCAA football, they are known as the 1st quarter and Halftime lines. As one might expect, the 1st quarter line is generally a quarter of the entire game’s line, while the first half line is usually about half of the entire spread. These lines are available at all reputable sportsbooks.
Halftime wagers are only available during halftime of the contest.
|Team||Halftime Score||Halftime Spread||Final Score|
Halftime lines use the events of the 1st half to help determine how the rest of the game will play out. In this example, the bookmakers expect the Tar Heels to continue to dominate their rivals, however, the Blue Devils endure the 1st half deficit to help cover the halftime spread, despite losing the overall game. Halftime action can be a good way to capitalize on middle plays.
Another popular side bet for NCAA Football is the Total or Over/Under (O/U). The sportsbooks determine what they believe will be the total points scored by EACH TEAM and the bettor places a wager on the over or under of that total. The example below shows the final total for the 2011 Texas Bowl:
|Team||Opening O/U||Closing O/U||Final Score|
|Illinois||61.5o -105||64.5o -110||38|
|Baylor||61.5u -115||64.5u -110||14|
Like many bowl games, the majority of bets in this contest were placed on the over, to the tune of 77%. In this instance, public money pushed the total line up three full points, while the final total landed under at 52. A wager of $115 on the opening under would earn a profit of $100 due to the increased juice originally placed on the under.
A parlay is spread, moneyline, or total bet in combination to increase the payout. In order for a parlay to payout, or hit, EACH one of the wagers must win. A teaser involves the same stipulations as a parlay, only you select a number of points to put down to decrease the risk (and reward) of a parlay. For example, if a proposed line is -7 (a popular number for football lines) and you have a 3-point teaser bet, your new line is -4. This 3-point advantage applies to each part of the teaser play. Below is a chart of the typical parlay payout structure:
|# of Teams||Payoff|