College Football is often described as second tier to the NFL, but with 130 member teams in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Football Bowl Subdivision 1, there is nothing second-rate about the wealth of betting opportunities on offer! With so many options to choose from, the thought of building a college football bet slip can be daunting, but with our beginner’s guide you’ll get to grips with it in no time.
How the NCAA Works
For the most part, the 130 teams in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision 1 are grouped together in separate conferences — for example, the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big Ten, and the Southeastern Conference. A handful of teams, such as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Indiana’s University of Notre Dame, are not affiliated with a conference, and are instead known as independents.
NCAA football tournament action kicks off around late August and early September. Each team plays between 10 and 13 games against other teams from their own conference. These are known as conference games. Meanwhile, non-conference games also take place.
The regular season concludes in December after each conference has crowned its winner. Next up in the NCAAF calendar comes the thrill of the College Football Playoff. This postseason invitational tournament sees the league’s top four teams, each selected and seeded by a 13-member committee, go head-to-head in two semi-final games.
The winners of the semis get a chance at lifting the final prize at the College Football Playoff National Championship game. This final game of the American college football season has taken place at venues such as the then Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, and Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Past winners of the college playoffs include the Ohio State Buckeyes, Alabama Crimson Tide, and South Carolina’s Clemson Tigers.
NCAA Available Betting Markets
Whether it’s a defensive showdown between the Michigan Wolverines and Penn State’s Nittany Lions, or a high-scoring blowout between the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Texas Longhorns, there are a number of ways bettors can wager on the action.
A moneyline bet is one of the most popular ways to wager on college football. This straight-up bet requires you to pick the winner of a regular season or bowl game. For example, you might want to bet that the Nebraska Cornhuskers will beat the Oregon Ducks. After placing your wager, you simply sit back and see if it comes good.
A little more complicated than a moneyline wager, the point spread is a sports betting market where the teams are divided into a favourite and an underdog. To win a point spread bet, the bettor’s chosen team must win by a specific number of goals/points in the case of the favorite, or fail to lose by more than a set number of goals/points in the case of the underdog.
Over/Under Betting Market
With over/under bets, NCAA football betting sites set the total number of points expected to be scored by both teams combined. A bettor must decide whether the final amount will be above or below that total, and bet the over or under accordingly. Occasionally, the final score matches the expected score. This is known as a push and sees the bet refunded.
Prop bets refer to bets that don’t necessarily affect the game outcome. You might bet that a certain player will score a field goal, for example, or rush for over 50 yards. Interestingly, while bettors in some American states are barred from placing bets on individual college football players, our own gambling laws mean that UK bettors face no such restrictions.
As its name suggests, a futures bet is one you place in advance of a given situation. You might bet on individual conference winners or back your favourite player to take this year’s Heisman Trophy — the award given to the most outstanding college football player. Then there’s the most exciting futures bet of all — which team will win the College Football Playoff National Championship game.
Boost Your Odds with a Parley Bet
Combining multiple wagers on the same ticket, a parlay bet is better known in the UK as an accumulator or acca bet. For example, you might bundle a Wisconsin Badgers vs Iowa Hawkeyes moneyline bet with a point spread for the Kentucky Wildcats vs Oklahoma Thunder game, along with an over/under bet for the Florida State Seminoles vs Tennessee Titans game. All wagers must win for the overall bet to win, but a big potential payout is on the cards if they do. If you claim accumulator insurance, however, then you can claim your stake back if just one leg lets you down, usually as a free bet.
Bet On the Action In-Play
Make the Most Informed Bet with these NCAA Betting Tips
For many players, the NCAA football season represents the road to making it as a pro in the NFL. With so much on the line, you can be sure that every player and team gives their all every time they take to the field. This makes for great viewing, but can make things a little tricky when betting. A motivated underdog could cause a serious upset. This is made even tougher when you consider how often a team’s roster changes with players leaving to join the NFL every year. To help you along, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Increase Your Knowledge
Beginner’s Luck will only get you so far, so it’s worth investing some time to understand the teams properly. Look into how individual teams play, the specific roles each player brings to the squad and who is taking the most form into an upcoming game. This is really the best way to properly engage with NCAA betting, but before long you’ll know the various conferences just as well as you might know the English Premier League.
Check Out the Stats
Checking out team stats can get you off to a flying start when it comes to picking a winner. Knowledge of recent form and head-to-head stats will almost always keep you better informed when it’s time to fill in your bet slips. Luckily American football, even at college level, is dominated by stats so accessing the latest figures shouldn’t be difficult at all.
Responsible gambling is about more than sticking to your budget and never chasing losses. It’s about being responsible from the start. Carefully checking the terms and conditions for your chosen betting site, setting out deposit limits and making sure gambling time doesn’t intrude on work and family commitments are all important. What is crucial, however, is that you get help from a registered gambling charity if you feel your habit is starting to get out of control. Check out play safe, our responsible gambling hub, for more information.
Boost Your Bankroll with an NCAA Betting Bonus
The best betting sites are always on the lookout for new customers, with a generous welcome bonus often available to new sign-ups. Check out our rundown of the most popular betting promotions available to punters.
Matched deposits are common at online sportsbooks. Let’s say a site offers “50% up to £200”. This means that an initial deposit of £200 will be rewarded with £100 worth of betting credits you can place on the markets of your choice. Always check for wagering requirements as these will indicate how much you will have to bet before you can withdraw your winnings as a real money payout. Other restrictions, such as maximum win caps, may also apply.
Another common offer at college football betting sites is a free bet. This type of betting bonus is as good as it sounds, rewarding you with free credits when you sign up and/or make a qualifying deposit or wager. Bear in mind that free bet offers are rarely as generous as matched deposit bonuses, and that wagering requirements may apply which will limit how you play.
A money-back welcome offer is a great chance to back the underdog without risking your funds. That’s because it works as a form of insurance — if you place a bet and lose, you’ll have your stake refunded as free bet credits, or even real money. Do check those terms and conditions, though, as there will probably be a maximum cap on the refund amount.
Online betting sites are keen to share the magic of college football with UK punters, so you can expect some enhanced odds bonuses to be on the menu. These price boosts can be offered as a welcome bonus by some betting sites, but are usually available to new and existing customers for the big-ticket games likely to pull in a sizable audience. This means that you can enjoy more lucrative odds on safer bets.
Wager on the NCAA on the Go
You don’t need to be tied to your desktop to enjoy a punt on the big game. Virtually all NCAA football betting sites have mobile-optimised websites, so you can place your bets whenever the mood strikes.
Of course, the top betting sites such as Coral, bet365, and Paddy Power Sports also offer a dedicated mobile betting app. Available on both iOS and Android, these native betting apps are free to download and easy to install. Mobile betting apps can also enhance your betting experience with faster and more convenient wagering, in-game promos, and added features such as push notifications, so you’re always aware of new bonuses as they happen.
How to Deposit and Withdraw Your Betting Funds
Unless you’re taking advantage of a free bet welcome offer, you’ll need to fund your account to get started. The best online bookmakers make this easy by providing a good range of payment options. Let’s look at the different ways to make a deposit with an online sportsbook.
UK punters have not been able to use a credit card to fund their online betting since a change in the law back in 2020. Debit cards are widely accepted, though, and are one of the easiest ways to fund your account. Almost all betting sites accept debit card transactions, including those made by Visa, Mastercard, and Maestro cards. Withdrawals can take a bit of time for betting sites to process, however, typically taking between one to five working days.
UK bettors will be familiar with e-wallets such as Skrill and PayPal. They’re easy and secure to use, and often process withdrawals faster than the average bank. Beware, though: some welcome bonuses can’t be unlocked when you make a first deposit using certain e-wallets, so check the betting site’s terms before signing up.
A popular prepaid banking method is Paysafecard. You can purchase these vouchers in shops or online, then transfer the prepaid funds to your sportsbook account by inputting the unique PIN. It’s a super secure way to make deposits online, but the downside is that withdrawals are not possible. It is therefore necessary to find a betting site that allows you to make deposits and withdrawals using two different payment methods.
Ready to Play?
With so many teams competing in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision 1 alone, working out where to start with college football can seem a little tricky. But with our in-depth guide to the tournament format, market depth, best betting bonuses and more, you should have everything you need to get started. The next step is to find the college football betting site that is right for you, sign up and claim your welcome bonus!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you cash out college football bets before the game finishes?
Most bookmakers which we recommend allow cashouts. This is a good way to secure a profit – albeit – a smaller one.
Which are the best American football betting sites?
That largely depends on the features you want from an online betting site. Are you after a live stream of the game? A downloadable mobile app? These are all worth considering, so check out our betting site comparison table to find your best options.
Are online bookmakers safe to use?
Yes, as long as you choose a site that’s licensed and regulated. At Compare.bet, we only recommend sites that are approved by regulatory bodies such as the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) or the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA).
How do I redeem a welcome offer for a new online sports betting site?
Simply check our list of recommended sites and click through to sign up for your favourite. You might need to enter a code to get your hands on your bonus, or you’ll have to make an initial deposit to unlock a matched deposit bonus.
Are new betting sites worth trying out?
New betting sites certainly have a lot to offer punters. From player-friendly welcome bonuses to well-designed websites, the freshest betting sites do a lot to compete with the more established names. You may find, however, that some new betting sites will lack certain features, such as live streams.