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.
NCAA Tournament Format
How the NCAA Works
Before you start assessing college football odds and placing bets on your favorite teams, it’s good to have a grounding in how the top tier of college football works. Let’s run through it now.
College Football Divisions
The vast majority of the 130 teams in the Division I Football Subdivision (FBS) are grouped together in 10 separate conferences. A handful of teams – such as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in Indiana – aren’t affiliated with a conference and are instead classified as independents.
The conferences are:
- American Athletic Conference
- Atlantic Coast Conference
- Big 12 Conference
- Big 10 Conference
- Conference USA
- Mid-American Conference
- Mountain West Conference
- Pac-12 Conference
- Southeastern Conference
- Sun Belt Conference
The regular FBS season kicks off in August, with teams typically playing 12 games each. Most take place against other teams in the same conference, though some non-conference games will also be on the agenda. 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 in January. This final game of the American college football season has taken place at venues such as the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, and the then-University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Past winners of the college playoffs include the Ohio State Buckeyes, Alabama Crimson Tide, and South Carolina’s Clemson Tigers.
Types of College Football Bets
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 favorites and underdogs. In order to succeed with this kind of wager, your chosen team must win by a specific number of points if they’re the favorites, or either lose within a permitted points margin or win outright if they’re the underdogs.
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 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. Be aware that, depending on your state, college props may not be permitted.
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 favorite 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.
Combining multiple wagers, or ‘legs’, on the same ticket, a parlay bet is sometimes known as an accumulator 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 parlay insurance, however, then you can claim your stake back if just one leg lets you down, usually as a free bet.
Teasers are a twist on parlays, where the multiple bets come with point spreads that are adjusted to give you a better chance of winning each leg. A popular type is the two-team, six-point teaser, where you have to correctly back two teams – say, the Texas Longhorns and the Colorado Buffaloes – with the allowable margins of victory or defeat skewed in your favour by six points.
The start of a college football game doesn’t have to mean the end of the betting. Depending on the specific regulations of the state you’re located in, you may be able to place in-play wagers as the action unfolds. The odds can shift dramatically depending on the momentum of the game. If, for example, the all-conquering Georgia Bulldogs start to unexpectedly struggle in a matchup, you may suddenly get more lucrative odds for backing them to live up to pre-game expectations.
College Football Betting Tips
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 and who the stars are.
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 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.
College Football Betting Bonuses
Boost Your Bankroll with an NCAA Betting Bonus
Betting sites are always on the lookout for new customers, with a generous welcome bonus and free bets 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 bettors, 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-optimized websites, so you can place your bets whenever the mood strikes.
Of course, the best college football betting sites in the US 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.
Deposits & Withdrawals
How to Deposit and Withdraw at a Real Money College Football Site
Managing your funds at a college football sportsbook is straightforward. Here are the steps to follow.
Find the right college football betting siteIf you’re looking to put money on the Cincinnati Bearcats, the Illinois Fighting Illini or any other college football team, you’ll need to find the right sportsbook. You can browse the best right here, comparing the welcome bonuses and FBS betting markets available.
Sign up as a memberNext up, follow our link to create your sportsbook account. You’ll need to provide some basic personal details, and possibly some ID documents.
Deposit fundsYou may be given some free bets as a no deposit offer, which means you’ll be able to place bets right away. If not, you’ll need to deposit funds by heading to the sportsbook’s cashier page and selecting your preferred payment method. Then, simply enter how much you want to transfer to your betting account. Most deposit methods will be processed in a few moments.
Ready to withdraw funds?When the time comes to take money out of your account, the process is much the same. Head back to the cashier page, pick your preferred withdrawal moment, and enter how much you’d like. Withdrawal timeframes will vary depending on the sportsbook and method, though you’ll find that e-wallets and Play+ cards tend to offer the quickest cash outs.
Betting Payment Methods
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 payment methods for online sportsbooks.
Debit and credit cards are widely accepted at betting sites in the US, and are one of the easiest ways to fund your account. Almost all betting sites accept debit card transactions, including those made by Visa and Mastercard. Withdrawals can take a bit of time for betting sites to process, however, typically taking between one to five working days. Some sites in the US may only accept debit or credit deposits, not withdrawals, while others won't accept for either. It all depends on which site you play with.
US 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.
Compare & Bet
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, 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!
Your Questions Answered
Which are the best 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 new betting sites worth trying out?
New betting sites in the US certainly have a lot to offer bettors. 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.
Is it legal to bet on college football?
That depends on where in the US you happen to be betting in. Some states place restrictions on college football wagers. For example, in Iowa you won’t be able to place prop bets on individual football players. In New Jersey, meanwhile, you can’t bet on matchups featuring in-state college teams like the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
Are online bookmakers safe to use in the US?
Yes, as long as you choose a site that’s licensed and regulated. At Compare.bet US, we only recommend sites that are approved by the appropriate state authority.
What is the College Football Playoff?
After the regular season ends, the College Football Playoff will determine the overall FBS champion. A selection committee of college football directors and former athletes determines the rankings of teams during the regular season, eventually picking four teams to play two semi-final games. The winners go on to face each other in the National Championship Game.
What are the top college football teams?
This is prone to change, but at the time of writing the strongest college football teams are the Georgia Bulldogs, Michigan Wolverines, Alabama Crimson Tide, and Cincinnati Bearcats.
Can you cash out college football bets before the game finishes?
Most US sportsbooks which we recommend allow cashouts. This is a good way to secure a profit – albeit – a smaller one.
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 favorite. 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.