Understanding College Football Betting

College football has been delighting fans of the sports since as far back as 1869, when the first game ever took place between Rutgers University and the College of New Jersey (today we call it Princeton). A few years later, in 1876, representatives from the Ivy League universities of Princeton, Yale, Columbia and Harvard would come together in Springfield, Massachusetts, to write the rules of college football.

It wouldn’t be until 1939, however, that fans of college football would see the first rankings, which they did with the release of the Associated Press poll. Much later, in 1998, the Bowl Championship Series rankings would appear, and then, in 2014, the College Football Playoff rankings.

Betting and sport have long existed hand in hand with each other, and thanks to legislation, it’s now possible to bet on college football in some states. This post looks at how to bet on college football, at the history of betting on college football and at where you can bet on games in the US.

How to bet on college football

Although there are several different ways to bet on games, the three traditional ways are:

  • Moneyline bets, in which you bet on who will win and is a good starting point when you’re new to betting on the game. A minus sign on the line indicates that the team is the favorite and indicates how much you must risk to earn $100 in profit, whereas a plus sign indicates how much you’ll win in profit if you bet $100.
  • Spread bets, in which the team you back must win or lose by a certain amount of points for you to win
  • Total bets, in which you wager on whether the number of points scored will be over or under the total suggested by the sportsbooks.

As you become more used to betting on college football, you may wish to make a parlay bet. This involves betting on the outcomes of several games, all as part of the same bet, but losing the whole bet if even just one of the outcomes goes against your prediction. Teaser bets are similar but involve the spread or the under/over totals, rather than the moneyline, and you can move them in your favor.

Another form is futures betting. Shortly after the end of a season, sportsbooks will offer new moneylines. Fans can then bet on the outcomes of events in the mid- or long term, such as the National Championship.

Understanding strategy

When betting on college football, it’s important to bear in mind three things:

  • Spreads in college football are much larger than in the NFL
  • Spreads are much more volatile
  • Intangibles, such as emotions, can have more of an impact on the players and, because they’re not professionals, college players may not be equipped as well, if at all, to cope with them.
  • College football stats are taken from smaller samples and, as a result, can be misleading sometimes.

Often, when people bet on football, they bet on the NFL, which is a different game altogether in terms of betting strategy. This makes it important to understand the differences between NFL and college football betting so that you can choose the most successful strategy.

The history of betting on college football

Although some Americans may have engaged in clandestine college betting, betting on sports was, in effect, outlawed in all but a handful of states under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992.

Thankfully, if you’re a fan of a waging on college football, however, the US Supreme Court acted in your favor in May 2018 and overturned this law. The court agreed that the ruling was unconstitutional and granted states the authority to decide whether they wished to permit sports betting in their state or not.

This has paved the way for sportsbooks to offer betting on college games. However, the US hasn’t seen a complete free-for-all when it comes to betting. Some states have still displayed reservations and kept betting on college sports off limits.

Where can you bet on college games?

The good news for betting fans is that not all states have outlawed betting on college sport. If you happen to be based in any of the following states, you’re in luck because they have few restrictions on college sports betting, if any at all:

  • Nevada
  • Tennessee
  • Pennsylvania
  • West Virginia
  • Mississippi
  • Michigan
  • Colorado
  • Montana
  • North Carolina

Indiana, meanwhile, permits sports betting on college games, but won’t allow prop betting (a type of bet on aspects of the game that don’t impact the outcome of the game) on college athletics. Iowa has adopted the same policy.

In Oregon, the question of whether it’s possible to bet on college games is slightly more hit-and-miss. It depends where you wish to place your bet. The Chinook Winds Casino Resort is on board with college sports betting, whereas the Oregon Lottery sportsbook won’t allow it.

Some states have wasted no time in acting upon the changes in legislation and started to legalize sports betting, but others have been a little slower and are still in the process. More may follow the lead of the states above in opening up college games to sports betting, but that’s unclear just now.

College football has been offering excitement for sports fans since the late 19th century. The authority states have granted for gaming enthusiasts to bet on the results has imbued the sport with an extra element of excitement that will delight the fans further. Will you be placing a bet on a game?


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