People have been betting on college football moneylines since there were college games to bet on.
The first college game between Princeton and Rutgers in 1869 undoubtedly featured some action from the curious spectators on hand. But as football has evolved, betting has also become more sophisticated. But moneyline betting on college football remains basically the same.
If the term moneyline sounds offputting, don’t stress. It just means betting on which team will win. But if you’re still anxious, we’re here to help. Here’s a guide to moneyline betting on college football.
What Are NCAAF Moneyline Odds & How Do They Work?
Each week for each game, sportsbooks assign odds on which team will win. Because games might seem lopsided on paper, the odds can vary quite drastically — especially in early-season college games where FBS powers may square off against weaker FCS opponents in games played solely to make the smaller school some money.
For instance, if Florida State is hosting Jacksonville State in Tallahassee, the Seminoles might be a -1000 moneyline favorite, meaning it would require a $1,000 bet to earn $100 in profit. However, if Florida State were traveling to Clemson later in the season for a conference game, the Seminoles might be a +350 moneyline bet, and Clemson -500 or shorter, meaning a bettor would earn $350 in profit on a $100 wager.
How to Read College Football Moneyline Odds
We alluded to American odds, plus- or minus-money, above, but there are several ways moneyline odds can be displayed. Here are a few examples:
How American Odds Work
American odds, or plus- or minus-money odds, are all in reference to a $100 bet. The favorite always will have minus-money odds, -110, -200, -400 or shorter, and that is the number required to win $100 in profit.
Underdogs usually have plus-money moneyline odds, though there are occasions where an underdog will also have a minus in front of their odds. In the event of a plus-money wager, the bettor will win that amount in profit in a $100 wager. So in the Florida State-Clemson example above, a moneyline bet on the Seminoles at +350 would net $350 in profit in a $100 wager.
If both teams have a minus, the favorite is the team whose number is farther from 100. If Clemson is playing Notre Dame, and the Tigers moneyline odds are -115 and the Fighting Irish’s are listed at -105, the Tigers are the favorite and the Irish are the underdog, even though the perceived margin is slight.
How Decimal Odds Work
Decimal odds are usually prevalent in Europe but are actually more user-friendly to everyone since they relate to a $1 bet. In a decimal wager, the favorite might be listed as a sub-1 decimal, 0.50, 0.75, 0.83, etc., and the favorite will have a number larger than 1.
In the Florida State-Clemson referenced above, the Seminoles would be listed as 3.5, and the Tigers would be displayed as 0.20, since those are the per-dollar profits a bettor would win.
How Fractional Odds Work
Fractional odds are usually reserved for horse racing, since those wagers typically have round or whole numbers listed, and TV because they are easy to comprehend and easy to calculate. But in fractional odds, bettors might get confused when the numbers break down to more unique numbers, since sportsbooks are always trying to find the exact sweetspot between profit and action.
For example, Florida State would be 7/2 to defeat Clemson and the Tigers would be 1/5 in fractional odds. But since some sportsbooks get even more specific than that — FanDuel makes odds like -112 or +118 standard — they would rather use American odds than fractions.
What to Look for When Placing an NCAAF Moneyline Bet
Target value and any edge you can find. Unfortunately, most online sportsbooks have turned odds-creation into a science — since college football only trails the NFL in terms of dollars bet annually in the United States. But in moneyline betting, make sure to consider emotional factors, like home-field, revenge and letdowns, since college football games are decided by 18-22-year-olds.
Also be sure to do your homework. The Game Day provides bettors with a robust array of college football betting guidance for those interested in wagering on college football — and all sports, frankly. If you want to find an edge but aren’t sure where to look, that’s a good place to start.
Don’t be afraid to bet live, or while the game is ongoing. College football games regularly feature upsets and comebacks. If you hated the pregame odds, but the team you wanted to wager on is trailing 10-0 in the first, the odds will undoubtedly shift to something more favorable. Granted, those odds come with the added risk of the team you bet on losing. But if you love it, don’t be afraid to monitor the game and mash those odds while the game is going.
But most importantly have fun and trust your instincts. Sometimes you’ll be wrong. But that’s all part of the process.
Best Sportsbooks to Place College Football Moneyline Bets
FanDuel is the No. 1 sportsbook in America, and it’s one of the best option for bettors of all speeds and experience levels. FanDuel Sportsbook is changing the way sports betting is done thanks to innovative practices, like the same-game parlay, which it created in 2018 and has since become the standard practice across sports-betting sites.
With FanDuel, users will get exceptional odds, loads of betting markets and a plethora of promos, and new innovations are added each year. Bettors who like same-game parlays can now place Same-Game Parlay+, which are single-market wagers where bettors combine multiple outcomes from multiple events with enormous payout potential.
Caesars Sportsbook has elite odds and just about every moneyline bet for both FCS and FBS competition all season long. Bettors can trust the Caesars name, since it is a mainstay in the casino world and has become a one of the top sports-betting options after Caesars purchased popular British sportsbook William Hill in 2021.
Every wager with Caesars comes with Caesars Rewards, the company’s VIP loyalty program, that gives bettors points that can be redeemed for bet credits, hotel stays at Caesars properties and much more.
DraftKings is one of the top options for sports betting in the country, since it is the most widely available sportsbook in the United States. Chances are if you live in a state where sports betting is legal, DraftKings is operational there.
DraftKings Sportsbook also gives users a great interface that makes finding the betting markets they’re interested in easy. Plus, DraftKings offers helpful boosts, like making any wager +100 which it will offer at various times throughout the year, that lengthens bettors’ ability to stay in the game on their platform without needing to constantly re-deposit.
BetMGM Sportsbook is a great option, again due to the fact it is one of the most widely available sportsbooks in the country. With BetMGM, bettors can get loads of free bets, boosts and competitive odds for all of their college-football wagers.
Plus, like Caesars, BetMGM has a great loyalty program that also enables users to cash in their points for stays at MGM properties and MGM-affiliated hotels and resorts, as well as other perks.
If you’ve watched a sporting event in the past year, you’ve undoubtedly seen the Betway name, since the sportsbook has undertaken an aggressive marketing campaign that puts its brand front-and-center on most televised sporting events.
But with Betway Sportsbook, placing a moneyline wager on college football is a breeze. Plus, Betway provides loads of boosts, known as Betway Boosts, that make placing wagers on their platform more lucrative.
BetRivers is arguably the best sportsbook in the nation for novice gamblers since it has a helpful explainer section that spells out certain gambling terms that may seem intimidating to inexperienced bettors. With BetRivers, users also can peruse helpful tips and trends that will give them the most information to make the best decisions on their moneyline wagers.
PointsBet Sportsbook is changing the way sports are bet on, notably due to its custom PointsBetting-style that rewards bettors who are correct and punishes them for being extra-wrong. For example, in a PointsBet-style college-football wager if you wagered $10 on a team to cover a touchdown, and it wins by 14 points, you’d win $70 in profit. However, if you wagered $10 to cover seven points and it won by only two points, you’d be out $50 extra dollars.
If that sounds too stressful for your betting style or experience level, you could also try PointsBet’s fixed-odds betting style, which is the standard at all the sportsbooks listed above. PointsBet offers great odds and empowers users to wager on every college football game every week.
How to Pick College Football Moneyline Betting Sites
The sites listed above are great options for college-football betting. But here are a few ways to further narrow down the list.
A great welcome bonus will lengthen your ability to play on the site or app. If you’re short on funds, you can target a bet-and-get, where a sportsbook will give you site credit in exchange for a small deposit — typically, $5-$10 — and a miniscule initial wager of $1-$5. If you have a little bit extra, target a first-deposit match or risk-free bet that reimburses in site credit if it’s unsuccessful.
The best odds provide the largest profit. Odds can be fairly standard from sportsbook to sportsbook, but if you’re not shopping for the best possible college football odds, you’re leaving valuable funds on the table.
Some sportsbooks boost odds for moneyline wagers, which is another way for them to differentiate themselves from the competition. If you’re odds shopping, be sure to consider boosts too, since boosted odds on a favorite might be +100 as opposed to -115 at another sportsbook.
Logging in should be fast and easy, especially to get the best odds for those live wagers. The site shouldn’t crash while you’re trying to access it. You should be able to easily find the college football wagers you wish to make without much strenuous effort.
Find the sportsbook that makes it easier to bet instead of harder.
Why Should I Bet College Football Moneylines?
Because moneyline betting is simple. You place your money on which team will win, and that’s it. No spreads. No player prop thresholds to achieve. No over/unders. Your team could win by one point or 40. As long as the team you wager on is victorious, so are you, and since teams are coached to win — not cover a spread — you’ll win as long as they do.
Moneylines can be more lucrative than spread betting, especially given the volume of upsets in college football. If you have a strong belief that a major underdog can pull off the upset against either a nationally ranked or conference powerhouse, cashing in on +200 odds is way more profitable than the -110 spread bet.
Plus, if you have a favorite team and/or a school you attended, you can win when they do. Winning bets when your favorite team wins is a new and fun way to be a fan. Or if you know feel you know something that pundits or “experts" don’t, winning real funds is a tangible victory aside from the ego boost of being right.
Why Shouldn’t I Bet College Football Moneylines?
Because, to paraphrase “The Hunger Games," the odds may not be in your favor. As stated above, moneyline odds can fluctuate drastically — some lopsided-appearing games like the 2007 Michigan-Appalachian State upset didn’t have moneyline odds at all — which then requires you as a bettor to wager more to win more. Since upsets happen all the time, the return on a wager that is -200 or shorter is not worth the potential to lose a large sum of money trying to make the wager worthwhile.
Plus, if you’re betting favorites, there are times where spreads can be the more profitable wager. For instance, if your team’s moneyline odds are -140 in a game, you’d be wiser to bet on them to cover a field goal or even 3.5 points. Common sense will generally dictate which decision is the correct one, but in some cases moneyline wagers will not produce the best payout if it wins.
College Football Moneyline Betting for Beginners
Target value. Find the best bet with the best odds and pounce. Sometimes sportsbooks offer boosts with moneyline wagers — BetMGM and DraftKings, especially — and odds do sometimes slightly vary from book to book. Consider all of your options before you go ahead and place that wager. You could be leaving money on the table.
Research. You don’t want to place a long-odds wager on a team starting a backup quarterback or who is missing a marquee player either due to suspension or injury. Strange things will periodically happen, but the likelihood of your team winning when the deck is stacked against it is not high.
Trust your instincts. You’ll kick yourself if you were right but didn’t trust yourself enough to pull the trigger on that upset bet. Your instincts will sometimes be wrong, but if your research affirms what your gut is telling you, you’ll never feel bad about your bet even if it isn’t successful.
Additional Types of NCAAF Bets Available
Moneylines aren’t the only college football bets you can make. Here’s a glance at some of the other popular wagers.
Totals typically center around the number of points in a game which can vary drastically in college football depending on weather conditions and general execution. Over/unders may also be prop bets, such as a team to score over or under a certain number of points or for a player to surpass a specific yardage or touchdown threshold — if you’re in a state where betting on player props is legal.
As referenced above, props are any wager that doesn’t center specifically around the final outcome. Props can be listed as over/unders or they can be simple wagers such as which team will score first, when will the first points of the game be scored and how will they be scored. Or, again, player props are popular if you’re in a state where they’re legal.
Futures are bets on events that will play out far in advance. Examples of futures bets are which team will win the national championship, which player will win the Heisman Trophy, bet on a team that will be in the College Football Playoff or which team will win its respective conference.
Parlays are when sportsbooks invite bettors to combine wagers in a single market. Parlays generally include moneyline bets, since a popular style of parlay-betting is to combine multiple short-odds moneyline wagers to get a more lucrative payout.