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College Football Spread Odds Today | Best NCAAF Spreads This Week

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ByPat Pickens

Apr 24, 2024

Since football is by far the most popular sport to wager online, betting spreads in college football games is among the most widely executed practice in America.

The NFL rules the national roost, but given where online sports betting is legal, and the laws that govern sports where college sports reign supreme, you can bet that college football isn’t far behind. Given the fact national powers generally open their seasons with lopsided games where they pay smaller schools to come to their campus and play, spread betting is integral when wagering on college football.

If you’re intrigued at the prospect of betting spreads in college but haven’t quite jumped in yet, don’t worry. We’re here to help.

Here’s a guide to spread betting in college football.

What Are NCAAF Spread Odds & How Do They Work?

Sportsbooks assign betting odds to a game based on the likelihood of which team will win. However, because many games appear lopsided on paper before they’re played, they also assign spreads to the games to inspire more action.

In a spread bet you can either bet the favorite or underdog to “cover" the spread. That means if the favorite wins by at least the number of points listed it covers. If the underdog either loses by fewer points than the spread, or wins outright, then it covers the spread and your bet on it wins.

For example, if Alabama is a 14-point favorite in its Iron Bowl matchup against Auburn, it might carry moneyline odds of -550 or shorter, meaning you’d win $0.18 profit for every dollar wagered. But betting the Crimson Tide to cover the 14-point spread, or -14, would carry -110 odds, meaning you would win $0.91 for every $1 bet if Alabama won by at least two touchdowns.

How to Read College Football Spread Odds

Due to space constraints, particularly on mobile screens, spread numbers and odds might come off as confusing. I know would-be bettors can get bogged down by minus and plus and that you can win by losing or lose by winning.

But reading spreads is not that complicated. The favorite is always the team with the minus in front of its number in the spread line, and the underdog always has a plus number in its spread line. Favorites and underdogs always have the same spread odds, usually either -110 or -115, since betting a favorite or underdog to cover is essentially a coin flip in the sportsbook’s eyes.

If a favorite, say Michigan for instance, is a seven-point favorite in a hypothetical game against Michigan State, the sportsbook may list Michigan -7 and Michigan State +7. Michigan would need to win by at least seven points to push. Michigan State would need to win or not lose by seven in order to cover. The odds for each team would be -110, or $0.91 profit for every $1 bet.

How American Odds Work

American odds always have minuses and pluses, and they are listed in relation to a $100 bet. For instance, a -110 bet means that a bettor would need to wager $110 in order to win $100 in profit — the total payout would be $210 since you retain your initial stake in any winning bet. Each subsequent minus-money wager would carry corresponding payouts based on the odds. A -200 bet pays out at $0.50 profit for every $1 bet. A -150 bet would pay $0.67 for every $1 wagered. And so on.

How Decimal Odds Work

Decimal odds are how sports payouts are referenced in Europe and essentially explain the payout per dollar bet. For instance, a -110 bet in decimal odds would be listed as 0.91. A +100 wager, also known as Even money, would be listed as 100.

How Fractional Odds Work

Fractional odds are usually more ubiquitous in horse racing and on TV, again since space constraints come into play. But fraction odds are usually a way to explain futures odds since they are almost always plus money and humans, especially Americans, can conceptualize 2-1 odds instead of +200 for some reason.

But fraction odds are also harder to break down, since a -110 bet is roughly 9-10. They work best with whole numbers and, again, where most wagers are plus-money, which is why they are generally used for futures.

Best Sportsbooks to Place College Football Spread Bets

Here are some of my favorite options to use when betting on college football spreads.

Caesars

Caesars leaped head first into the sports gambling game when it completed its purchase of popular British sportsbook William Hill in August 2021 and has become one of the best and most widely available sportsbooks in the country.

Caesars has elite odds and a robust number of prop bets for all sporting events, especially for college football games. If you’re a spread bettor for college football, Caesars is a superb option.

BetMGM

The BetMGM Online Sportsbook is one of the longest-standing options for bettors. BetMGM has a plethora of betting markets and offers competitive spreads and odds for college football betting.

Plus, all wagers with BetMGM come with rewards that can be redeemed for free bets, plus dining and hotel credits at MGM resorts, meaning you’ll win even if your bet doesn’t hit.

FanDuel

The FanDuel Online Sportsbook is No. 1 in America and for good reason. FanDuel has been revolutionizing the sports-gambling game with innovative practices like same-game parlays, which it invented in 2018, and same-game parlay+, which it rolled out in 2021.

If you’re a college-football bettor, FanDuel has great spreads and unique odds — think -112 instead of -115 or -102 instead of -105 — that give players a greater opportunity of maxing out their winnings.

DraftKings

DraftKings is one of my favorite sportsbooks because of its easily digestible interface and surplus of promotions. DraftKings gives players the opportunity to lengthen play with boosts and other great promotions, including those on college-football games.

But if you’re interested in wagering on college-football spreads, DraftKings is a great option. The sportsbook gives players great lines and odds and empowers users to bet on every FBS game each week.

BetRivers

BetRivers is one of the less-renowned sportsbooks in the United States, but it is a great option especially if you’re a newbie to sports betting. BetRivers gives players a helpful glossary of terms that they may be too intimidated to ask about and offers trends and info so they can make the most informed decisions possible.

Plus, BetRivers is a great sportsbook with competitive odds, markets and props for college-football bettors in every state it operates.

How to Pick NCAAF Spread Betting Sites

Finding a preferred sportsbook takes time and playing — and you might rotate between the ones listed above over time. Here’s a glimpse at how to choose a preferred one.

New-user Bonus

The best sportsbook bonuses will lengthen your ability to play. Try to use a bet-and-get or a first-deposit bonus if you can, or at worst a risk-free bet that pays you back in site credit.

The best bonuses will enable you can play around with the sportsbook and determine whether you enjoy playing on the site or not.

Odds

The best odds produce the best payouts. Some sportsbooks will regularly offer better odds than others, and those slight differences will add up to solid profits and more ability to play over time.

Shop around sportsbooks looking for odds and odds boosts that will give you the best payout for your bet.

Promotions

Some sportsbooks regularly offer promotions such as odds boosts, and others are more sporadic with their promotional offers. Seek out the sportsbooks that both offer enhanced odds but also give you a better chance of winning instead of just enticing you to bet.

Interface

Sports betting happens fast, especially if you’re live-betting, which is a method of wagering that only online sportsbooks offer. To take advantage of the ever-evolving odds and spreads, you’ll want a sportsbook that makes login and bet-placing easy.

Why Should I Bet College Football Spreads?

Because, again, college games can appear lopsided on paper. Plus, in certain instances moneyline odds aren’t even offered. Moneyline odds were not offered in the infamous Michigan vs. Appalachian State upset in 2007, which means spread betting was the only way you could get action on the game. Even then, the Mountaineers were roughly a four-touchdown underdog in Ann Arbor.

Even when moneyline odds are offered, which they are for almost every game especially those all-important conference games, a spread bet is almost always either the wiser or more lucrative option. A +200 underdog rarely wins but could cover a touchdown. If you think a favorite will win you should trust it to win by at least a field goal — or more.

Plus, you can get more favorable spreads when betting live, or while the game is ongoing. If you weren’t sure about Notre Dame covering three touchdowns against Navy, but the spread shifted to say, 13.5 after the first quarter, you can mash that and cash in if the Fighting Irish win by 20.

Why Shouldn’t I Bet College Football Spreads?

Because coaches coach their teams to win and not cover the spread. The most obvious example of this came in the 2015 national championship game when Alabama, a 6.5-point favorite that was leading by 12 points in the final minute, let Deshaun Watson and Clemson drive down the field and score a touchdown with just 17 seconds left. Crimson Tide fans celebrated their 15th national championship with a 45-40 win, but Bama bettors were stung by the back-door cover.

Also, betting on a team to cover a multi-touchdown spread can be a super-dicey proposition, especially in conference play where weird things tend to happen. Wisconsin has a hard time beating Northwestern for some reason, let alone covering a two-touchdown spread. Plus, you never know when that plucky FCS school is going to rise up and give a favorite hell. Like when Troy, a 21-point underdog, went to Baton Rouge and beat nationally ranked LSU at night in 2017.

College Football Spread Betting for Beginners

Start by betting on a game you really love, and ideally do not have a bias. I remember feeling strongly about Clemson defeating Alabama in the 2016 national championship game and would’ve bet the Tigers to at least cover the spread if there was a legal sports-betting option where I lived. Sure enough Clemson shocked Bama and took home the national championship.

However, if you are a biased fan, take a spread bet you’re confident in and put a small stake on it. Bet-and-gets, where sportsbooks give bettors a large amount of site credit in exchange for a small deposit and first wager, are a great promo if you’re a new bettor since you can take the sportsbook for a spin before depositing hundreds of dollars and needing to re-deposit.

Shop around for better lines too. This is more easy given the robust number of online sportsbooks that make odds-shopping as simple as opening a different app on your phone. I remember being in Vegas for the 2015 national-championship game and trying to find the most favorable spread. I ended up finding Bama -6, when most sportsbooks had it listed at 6.5. It still didn’t hit though.

Do your homework too. For example, if I know Northwestern gives Wisconsin a hard time, I’ll steer clear of betting Wisconsin to cover a double-digit number. If I know USC has a tendency to start slow, I won’t bet on them -21 against an in-conference opponent.

Have fun, be responsible and place bets you love. We bet to add a stake to the games we already want to watch. Rarely will we win big. But we can have fun the whole time.

Additional Types of NCAAF Bets Available

Aside from spread betting in college football there are other markets available. They include:

Over/Unders (Totals)

Wager on the total score and whether there will be over (more) or under (fewer) than the predetermined point total. Over/unders are usually in the mid-60s in college football since most FBS games are high scoring.

Props

Props are wagers that aren’t tied specifically to the outcome. Player props are the most prominent prop wagers, though college-football player props are not legal in every state.

However, game props are available at all of the sportsbooks listed above.

Futures

Futures bets are wagers that get paid out far in advance. Futures in college football include which team will win each of the Power 5 conferences, which player will win the Heisman Trophy and of course which team will win the national championship.

Parlays

Parlays are single bets with multiple outcomes tied together. For instance, betting on two teams to win or two teams to cover the spread.

Parlays are a great way to get longer odds on outcomes that are likely to happen. But be careful because parlay betting comes with extra risk.

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