How To Bet On College Football?

Table Of Contents:

Is Betting On College Football Legal?

For many years, states were prevented from legalizing sports betting by the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, aka PAPSA. PAPSA was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2018, paving the way for legal sports betting in the United States. 

Numerous other states have legal sports betting, but only in person. Several states – most recently Massachusetts and Maryland – have just legalized sports betting and will have online sports betting available in the coming months. Most other states have at the very least introduced bills to get the process started, so it’s likely only a matter of a couple of years before the rest of the states have legalized betting on college football.

As of March 2023, The following states all have a legal and regulated sports betting industry, where you can wager on College Football:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas 
  • Colorado 
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware 
  • Illinois 
  • Indiana 
  • Iowa 
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana (not all parishes)
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan 
  • Mississippi 
  • Montana 
  • Nevada 
  • New Hampshire 
  • New Jersey
  • New York 
  • Ohio
  • Oregon 
  • Pennsylvania 
  • Rhode Island 
  • Tennessee 
  • Virginia 
  • Washington DC 
  • West Virginia 
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Best Online College Football Betting Sites and Mobile Apps

Picking a sportsbook to do your betting at is extremely important. They aren’t all the same, and each sportsbook will have different odds and promotions. Each site will have their own unique quirks and offerings, and it can’t hurt to look around as much as possible before settling on a betting home. It’s always a good idea to have multiple accounts at different sportsbooks, so you can shop around and compare odds. One site might usually have better juice or better parlay payouts, but another will have better live-betting software. There are already a lot of great operators out there, and with legalization spreading across the country, the number of options for bettors will only continue to increase.

How To Bet On College Football

In college football you’ve got plenty of options for betting. You can bet on the money line, the point spread, the total in the game, or a whole slew of props. Just find the best odds by shopping around at different sportsbooks for whatever wager you want to make, then add it to your bet slip and lock it in. The key to betting college football games is finding teams that are undervalued in the market, and that’s where Pickwise can help. Here at Pickswise we’re a one-stop shop for everything college football, as we put in the time and crunch the numbers to come up with the best free picks around. Check out our college football predictions all season long, since we’ll be providing free picks on the side and total of every game. We’ll also have tons of free prop bets, same game parlays, and regular parlays, so don’t miss out!

Ways To Bet On College Football  

College football is one of the most popular sports to bet on, and there are so many markets to wager on within it. During the college football season betting volume can get off the charts, and oddsmakers will sometimes change lines just based on the avalanches of public money coming in. You can bet on an individual game, or bet futures markets like the National Championship or conference winner. In the next section, we’ll be taking a look at each of those markets. Each one has different strategies and angles to exploit, and the money line and point spread can be treated as entirely different handicaps. Let’s break each one down, starting with money line college football betting.

Money Line Betting 

Money line betting in college football is as basic as it gets. You’re simply betting on which team will win the game, the margin of victory doesn’t matter. With money line betting one team will be the underdog and one team will be the favorite. The favorite will be identified by a ‘-‘ minus sign, while the underdog will be identified by a ‘+’ plus sign next to their odds. For example, USC might be an underdog in a game against UCLA. You’d see something like USC +175′ and UCLA -200.’ There will always be a gap between the two odds, so you’ll never see USC +200′ and UCLA -200.’ That gap is the ‘vig’, and it’s how oddsmakers make their money. The bigger favorite a team is on the money line, the bigger favorite they’ll be on the point spread as well. Money line betting comes with different strategies than point spread betting. On a money line, you might be more inclined to back a conservative defensive-minded team that will grind out games, but not win them by large margins. 

Point Spread Betting 

If you’ve ever had a bet on a college football game it will most likely have been on the point spread. Bookmakers offer one of the teams with a head-start of a certain number of points, if the underdogs win or lose by fewer points than the spread, you win. If you back the favorites, they need to win by more than the line for you to cash your ticket. Handicaps are often framed with half-point lines, to avoid the possibility of a tie (eg Oklahoma +3.5 wins if they win or lose by three or fewer points) but when full-point lines are offered, ties are generally declared a push and voided (you get your money back). Point spreads in college football shift throughout the week, and can be quite volatile. College football betting is like any other financial market, price point is everything. Getting the best number on a point spread is the key to long-term success.

Totals Betting – Over/Under Points Betting

Sometimes when handicapping a game you might have a good idea about whether it will be high-scoring or low-scoring, but no such strong opinion about which team will win. In those cases a bet on the total points might be your best option. Oddsmakers will give their assessment of how many total points the teams will score between them and you bet higher (over) or lower (under). The figure can vary by a fair amount, even more so in college football than in the NFL. In the NFL a total usually won’t get higher than the upper 50s, but it’s not uncommon to see totals in the 70s for college games. Factors include the weather (bad weather tends towards fewer points, clear skies and indoor stadiums produce more shootouts), the strength of the offenses and defenses in the game, and the playing styles of the teams. A run-heavy team that relies on their defense will see their totals set quite a bit lower than a pass-happy team that loves to run and gun.

Player Prop Bets 

Player prop markets are offered by an increasing number of sportsbooks and present a chance to support a player to have a good or bad game. Oddsmakers offer over/under prices on individual players’ total receiving yards, rushing yards, and passing yards. Pretty much everything you can imagine. There are also the longest reception, longest run, longest successful field goal for the kickers props and so on. If you think a team has a weak defensive front and is poised to get gashed on the ground, taking the over on the opposing running back’s rushing yards might make sense. It’s another area where knowledge of the individual match-ups can pay off. For offensive players, it’s all about opportunity. If Penn State suffers injuries to its top two receivers, the over on their third receiver might be worth a look since his volume will increase dramatically. Prop betting isn’t quite as popular in college football as it is in the NFL, but it’s getting there.

Team Prop Bets 

In addition to player prop bets, you can also make team prop bets in college football. Those include things such as how many total points just one team will score, or how many field goals they’ll make in a game. They can also include alternate spreads. An alternate spread allows you to alter the point spread, while getting better or worse odds depending on if you gain points or lose points. If Ohio State is -4 over Rutgers, a sportsbook might allow you to bet an alternate spread of Ohio State -7.5 at +200 odds. Team prop bets aren’t quite as common as player prop bets, but there are still plenty of opportunities for value. 

Futures Bets

Futures bets allow you to invest long-term. Rather than finding out if you win or lose on any given Saturday, a futures bet allows you to ride with a wager for the whole season. You can of course bet on the national championship winner at any point, but there are a ton of other markets. You can bet on a team to win their conference, or make the College Football Playoff. Futures bets can often offer huge payouts if you pick the right longshots. One of the most popular futures bets in college football betting are season win totals. Oddsmakers will set over/under lines for how many regular season games all D1 teams will win. You can take the over on teams you’re high on coming out of summer camp, and the under on teams you expect to flop. Then you’ve got some skin in their game with each of their weekly matchups. There are also player futures markets. You can bet on a player to win the Heisman Trophy for example, and root for them to put up big numbers all year long.


Parlays are high-risk and high-reward. They provide the allure of a big payday, but as a result are much harder to cash. A parlay involves stringing multiple bets together on one ticket. You need each leg of the ticket to hit in order for your parlay to be a winner. For example, if you bet an Alabama, Florida and Texas money line parlay, all three of those teams would need to win for that to cash. If two of them win and one of them loses, you’d win nothing. If it does hit, you’d get a much bigger payout. In college football, it’s often popular to parlay big favorites together. Since most recreational bettors don’t want to lay -250 juice to back a 7-point favorite on the money line, they might instead combine two or three -250 favorites together in a parlay. Others will sprinkle a few bucks on a 10-team parlay every Saturday, hoping to one day hit a jackpot. They certainly can be fun, and can sometimes be wise in the right situation, but it’s important not to get carried away. Generally speaking, oddsmakers want you to bet parlays and long-term it probably isn’t the best way to make money. But they sure are exciting.


Teasers are an interesting concept that more or less blend point spread and parlay betting. You still have multiple legs that all need to cash like in a parlay, but in return for that added difficulty you get extra points against the spread. Say you bet a two-team, six-point teaser. That means you take whatever the point spread is for those two teams, and get six extra points. Suppose Oregon is +4 and Texas Tech is -8. If you put them together in a six-point teaser, your bet ticket would have Oregon as +10 and Texas Tech -2, instead of the normal spreads. In exchange for getting that six-point cushion, both Oregon +10 and Texas Tech -2 would need to hit for your teaser to cash. In football, it’s extremely important for teaser betting to remember that not all points are equal. There are certain key numbers, including 3 and 7. A college football game is much likelier to land on 3 or 7 than it is 5 or 9, for example. As such, the best way to bet a teaser is by going through those key numbers in either direction. Betting a team that’s -8 on a six-point teaser will get you down through the key numbers of 7 and 3 to -2. You can bet all sorts of teasers, such as a four-team 14-point teaser. Many sportsbooks differ in the odds they offer on teasers, so it’s important to shop around. The best shops will give you -110 on a two-team, six-point teaser.

College Football Betting Trends 

Perhaps more than in any other sport, many football bettors like to rely on trends to help shape their opinions. Trends rely on historical data that might help predict the outcome of a future game. For example, maybe Michigan State has a strong home-field advantage, and the Spartans always seem to play better as a home underdog with a chip on their shoulder in front of their home crowd. If there’s a strong trend that says they’re 9-2 against the spread in their last 11 games as home underdogs, it might be time to pounce. Other common trends include how a team usually fares in bad weather spots, or in primetime games. Since certain college football teams play every year, a lot of bettors also look at the trends within a given rivalry matchup. Maybe the under is 8-1 the last nine times Ohio State and Michigan have played because that’s a hard-fought rivalry game that tends to be lower-scoring. Trends can be important to monitor, and they can tell you who to fade just as often as they’ll tell you who to back. Many bettors like to fade the public by betting against the teams that are heavy public sides. It’s also important to not rely on trends that might not mean much. Correlation doesn’t equal causation, after all. If someone is trying to sell you on a bet because a team is 5-2 ATS the last seven times they’ve played three days after it last rained, you might want to pass.

Five Ways To Bet Smarter On College Football  

Betting, and betting successfully on college football across the course of a season is not an easy feat. With huge spread lines, mismatched teams and a plethora of uncertainties on any given game or week, you’ll better prepare for an up and down season betting on college sports. Our experts who have decades worth of experience betting college football have come up with their five best tips on how to bet better on college football this season. Check out what our experts have to say below. 

Remember The Players Are Only Trying To Win By One

  • The most crucial concept for college football bettors to remember is that the players are not trying to help you win your point-spread bets (disappointing as that may be). The players are only interested in winning the match outright, and one point will be enough. That is not tremendously comforting news if you have backed a team as a favorite of 1.5 or 2.5 points, and it can regularly lead to nightmare scenarios. For example, imagine your initial excitement if you have backed a team to win by seven points and, leading by five with just over a minute left, they intercept a pass or regain possession on downs inside the 20-yard line. Under normal circumstances they would be in great shape to have a shot at scoring another touchdown to lead by 12 or kicking a field goal to go eight points ahead. Then imagine your sinking spirits when you realize that the trailing team has no timeouts left and all your team has to do to seal the victory is have the quarterback kneel down three times and jog off the field. The backdoor cover is a situation where underdogs who have never been in the game steal the point spread with a late score that does not affect the outcome of the match, but can do great damage to the pockets of bettors. A team that’s up by 12 with a minute left might start playing soft ‘prevent’ defense that lets the opposing team march right down the field and score with seconds left.

Keep In Mind, These Are Kids

  • It’s also important to remember that when you’re betting college football, you’re betting on young players. In any sport, the college game is always going to be sloppier and more prone to variance than the professional game. That’s especially true in football. If you’re betting a #MACtion game between Ball State and Northern Illinois, you need to keep in mind that there might be an 18-year-old kicker who shanks a 30-yard field goal to mess up your handicap. There are going to be a lot more frustrating plays to deal with when betting college football than in the NFL, and that’s just something you have to accept. As much as it might feel like the gambling gods are against you when a Sun Belt punter lets a snap go over his head, it cuts both ways. And it will even out with time, just be patient. 

Big ‘Dogs Can Win

  • As mentioned, variance is much higher in college football than in the NFL. That means many different things, including that large underdogs have a much better chance of winning outright. In the NFL points are much tighter, and you’ll hardly ever see a 14-point underdog win outright. In college football, that wouldn’t be all that shocking. Upsets abound in college football, and they’re part of what makes the college game so exciting. They can also lead to plenty of opportunities for value, if you can pick off the right spots for money line value. Some people especially like to bet on double-digit ‘dogs on the money line in college football when there are emotional factors at play, such as a rivalry game or revenge game.

Match-ups Matter

  • Not all teams are created equal. Their approach to trying to win games will differ depending on the football philosophy of the coach (some are more defensively or offensively minded than others, some coordinators will lean more heavily on a running game or an aerial attack etc.) and the players available to them. For that reason, it’s wise not to have too firm an opinion in your head about which teams are better than others when it comes to analyzing a game. Every team will play better against teams that match up well for them and not so well against others. For example, say a team that has had a strong start to the season thanks to an effective running game is playing against a team that has a worse record, but one that happens to have a strong pair of defensive tackles and some talented linebackers. It could make sense to fade the ‘better’ team in that scenario. Maybe the lesser team had been struggling because their defense had been shredded by previous opposing quarterbacks due to their weak secondary. But that won’t come into play against this run-first team. 

Totals Can Get Wacky

  • One of the starkest differences between NFL and college football betting is in total points markets. In the NFL, totals are generally confined within the low 40s and high 50s, with occasional exceptions. In college football, the range is much wider. Bettors who are used to wagering on the NFL might see some college football totals and think they’re totally mispriced. But a game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will have a total in the 70s for a reason. It’s not a mistake from oddsmakers. Certain teams, and conferences as a whole, play very different styles of football. Totals in the more physical Big Ten are never going to be nearly as high as they are in the free-wheeling Big 12. It’s important to gain an understanding of the tempo and tendencies of each college football team and conference, perhaps more so than in any other sport.

When To Bet On College Football Throughout The Season?

There are only be a dozen or so games in a college football regular season, but fortunately college football betting is almost year-round. Over the summer is when futures betting dominates. You can get in all your wagers for season-long bets, including national championship winner, conference winner, and regular-season win totals. That goes all throughout August where you can sit back and bet a few bucks while waiting for the real action to start. Regular-season weekly games will dominate the betting picture all the way from the end of August through November. That’s when you’ll need to be your sharpest. Regular-season Saturdays are great for finding spots, since oddsmakers have to hang lines on the seemingly endless number of games which you can selectively choose from. You can also bet futures throughout the season on Sunday to Friday when there are no games. That’s often the best time to find value, when oddsmakers might overreact to the current standings. Bowl season betting is perhaps the most fun, and goes through the end of the College Football Playoff in January. The national championship is the biggest game of college football betting, with an endless amount of props and wagering opportunities available. The fun doesn’t stop there though, right after the big game you’ll be able to bet on combine and draft props during the offseason. As soon as the draft gets underway in late April, it’s pretty much time to start getting your futures bets ready again.

College Football Betting Strategies


College football betting is a lot of fun, but it’s also complex. Oddsmakers are sharp, and they’re tough to beat. As such, you have to work hard in order to find an edge. There are a number of strategies you’ll need to implement to become a successful college football bettor. Bankroll management is one of the most important ones. Remember, the best bettors in the world are just trying to hit at a 55%+ clip against the spread. There are going to be ups and downs, even the sharpest bettor in the world is going to endure a losing streak. It’s crucial that you don’t get sloppy with your money and bet too much on any one game. If you don’t have smart bankroll management, one cold stretch could leave you with nothing left to bet when you start to heat up again.


Once you’ve got the basics down, you can start going deeper with your college football betting strategies. In order to beat oddsmakers, you have to find an edge you can exploit. You can’t simply bet against the team that has a star player hurt as that’s probably already being factored into the line. To find your edge, you need to identify factors that aren’t already baked into the number. It can be wise to stake out a niche, finding something that you do well and stick with it. Maybe you develop a system for first-quarter totals betting, identifying which coaches like to play it conservative or open things up on their first drive or two. Another crucial element of college football betting is getting the best odds. Have multiple accounts with different sportsbooks, so you can compare odds and make sure you’re getting the best value. Just like how you’d check the price of an item from multiple retailers when doing online shopping. It’s the same principle. The difference between -114 and -110 might not seem huge on the surface, but it’ll make a big impact on your bankroll long-term.


Once you become a seasoned college football bettor you can take your game to the next level. That involves a lot of data. To be a true pro you’ll need to start logging all of your bets. This allows you to manage your bankroll most effectively, and to identify what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. Don’t leave anything up to your gut or hunch, you can see exactly how you’ve done on every type of bet. Keeping a log will tell you what your strengths are, you might notice you’ve been picking poorly against the spread, but are hitting 60% of your first-half totals. Once you’ve got everything down to a science, you can come up with your own power rankings and numbers to rival oddsmakers’. You’ll be able to start setting your own lines based on your rankings (which you’ll make by closely observing all 32 teams), and then seeing how they differ from the lines that oddsmakers actually set. If you make a game Chiefs -5.5 but oddsmakers open them at -3, your power numbers will show you that’s 2.5 points of free value. Another concept experienced bettors need to understand is that in football, it’s all about the number. Football point spreads fluctuate for an entire week up until kickoff, and numbers will move back and forth just like in the stock market. Treat your betting just like you would any financial market, because timing is everything. If you can consistently beat the closing line, you’ll be profitable long-term.

Things To Avoid When Betting On College Football 

  • There are plenty of pitfalls with college football betting, and many things you need to avoid. For starters, bet with your head and not your heart. Don’t let emotions get the best of you, never bet a team just because you want them to win. Bet them because you think they will win. 
  • Treat your betting like you would any other business, and take it seriously. Don’t chase your losses. If you go 0-5 in the early slate of games on a Saturday, don’t bet 10 units on the nightcap just because you feel like you’ve got to make it all back in one game.
  • An easy trap to fall into is betting teams based on records. If a 3-7 team is a favorite against a 7-3 team, don’t just assume oddsmakers have made a grave mistake, there’s probably a pretty good reason why.
  •  It’s also important to know when to not bet on a game, even if you really like one side, if you don’t get the best number. If you identify Western Michigan -3 as a spot you really like early in the week, but by Friday the line has shifted to -4, it’s likely going to be wise to pass. When a key number is involved, even a single point can be worth so much that it can shift a great bet to a poor one.

What Are The Main Difference From Betting On The NFL

There are going to be more mistakes

As mentioned earlier, college football players are just kids. In the NFL, everything is a tightly run ship. A botched snap on a punt might happen once in a blue moon in the pros, but in college football, it’s not all that uncommon. There’s always going to be a higher degree of variance with college football betting, that’s just the way it is.

Bigger Spread Lines 

The range of point spreads is also much bigger in college football. In the NFL, you’ll virtually never see a team be more than a 17-point favorite. In college football you might see a team be a 50-point favorite. That’s because the level of parity in college football isn’t even close to the NFL.

There are essentially many different leagues within the college football universe. Teams in smaller conferences might as well be playing at a lower level. In the NFL everyone is good enough to have made it to the pros, while the level of talent on college rosters varies wildly from program to program.

Bigger Totals  

Just like there are bigger spreads in college football, there are bigger totals as well. Some teams, and conferences (looking at you, Big 12), are known for their lack of defense, which can result in some ridiculously high totals.

Games can easily have totals into the 60s and 70s, and it’s not unheard of for a game to have a total in the 80s either. College teams are much more likely to run spread out offenses with tempo than NFL teams, and certain coaches employ the infamous Air Raid scheme where they’re always looking to pass the ball.

Lines Move Quicker

There are 32 NFL teams, and 133 FBS college football teams. The massive amount of teams means there are a ton more games each week. There are also a lot of games between two smaller schools that won’t see very much betting volume.

As such, the spreads in those games are a lot quicker to move. NFL games see massive amounts of volume, so it takes a lot of money coming in for oddsmakers to react and shift the lines. A swing of just a point or two in the NFL is a pretty big shift, but it’s not at all uncommon to see a shift of a handful of points in a college game, especially if it’s a lower-profile matchup. 

Luke Lindholm

Managing Editor for US Media Partnerships

Writer for Pickswise. Luke was born in PA but raised in MA and has been writing about major sports for 2 years. He plays soccer and basketball with a love for the EPL, NBA, NFL and NCAAF. Nothing runs faster than home dogs and betting the under is an act of maturity. Luke is a Liverpool and Patriots fan for life, YNWA

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