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From August to January, college football is one of the most popular sports across the US. It offers exciting matchups each week, and also is a favorite of many sports bettors.
While the College Football Playoff has only four teams, hundreds of teams compete in the National College Athletic Association (NCAA). This offers plenty of chances to bet on the sport. Arizona is home to some prominent NCAA football programs like Arizona State and the University of Arizona. If you’re a fan of one of these teams or just looking to get some money down on college football, this is the guide for you.
The number of teams and the differences in quality set NCAA football apart from many other popular betting options. This can create a bit of a learning curve for new bettors. Let’s cover what you need to know to start betting on the sport, along with explaining the various college football betting odds you’ll run across and a couple of other key topics.
NCAA football betting odds
Sportsbooks will frequently update the odds for upcoming NCAA football games. Those sportsbook odds appear below.
How to bet on college football
When you wish to place a bet, there are two main things to take into account. The first is the type of bet that you are placing. The second is the odds associated with the bet.
The most common bets are moneylines, point spreads, over/unders, prop bets, futures, and live bets. All have their own distinct facets, which we’ll go into more below.
For college football, sportsbooks in the US will display the odds in the American format. This means that the favorite for each game will have a negative number.
This represents how much you must wager on the selection for a chance to win $100. If Arizona had odds of -115, you would need to bet $115 to win $100, for a total return of $215.
For the underdog (the selection that has the lesser chance of winning), the odds will generally be a positive number. This represents how much you would stand to win from a $100 bet. For example, if Arizona State had odds of +115, you would bet $100 to win $115, for a total return of $215.
Popular college football bets
Here are your most common options for placing bets on college football. It’s a good idea to know these terms before you place your first bet, but the good news is that they don’t take very long to learn.
When two teams of uneven strength face off against each other, sportsbooks use something called a point spread to even the teams out from a betting perspective. Because the odds for a strong team like Arizona State to beat a weaker team such as Northern Arizona would be so bad, not many people would want to bet on them to win straight up.
Instead, sportsbooks use the point spread. The favored team will have a negative spread number. It needs to win by more points than that number for a spread bet on that team to win. The underdog will have a positive number and must avoid losing by that number or more for bets on that team to win. Here is an example of a point spread bet you might see at DraftKings Arizona Sportsbook:
- Arizona State -3
- Northern Arizona +3
If the final score landed exactly on the number for the spread, for example, if Arizona State won by three points, your bet would be a push and the sportsbook would refund your wager.
The moneyline is a bet on a team to win the game. Using the same example as above, Arizona State would have weaker odds on its moneyline because it is the favored team.
- Arizona State -145
- Northern Arizona +125
From novices to experts, most everyone will place a moneyline bet from time to time, and it’s one of the most common bets.
Along with the spread and the moneyline, an over/under, or total, is the third of the most common bets you’ll see for most games. You are wagering on the combined score of both teams. The sportsbook will set an estimated total score. You then wager if you think the actual total will be over or under that number.
For example, the game between Arizona State and Northern Arizona might have a total of 71.5. You can then choose if you think the actual total will go over or under that number. If the final score is 41-35, anyone who bet the over would win. This is a good bet for people who don’t want to back a certain side.
Parlays are for those looking for larger returns on their bets. These are betting tickets that combine multiple wagers into one. This boosts the odds and the potential winnings. For you to win, however, you need to get every individual selection correct. This can make parlays risky and difficult to win, yet novice gamblers often fall into the trap of playing them too much. Think of these as more like lottery tickets than a reliable bet format.
If you parlayed the Arizona State moneyline with the over on a total of 71.5, the odds on your ticket would go up, but you run an increased risk of losing. If Arizona State won but the game stayed under 71.5, your bet would lose.
Prop bets are wagers on smaller things within a game, unrelated to the final score or who wins the game. However, Arizona sports betting legislation specifically prohibits bets on “actions, events, occurrences or nonoccurrences” in college games. So, no college prop bets.
Futures bets are long-term wagers. If you place a bet on a team to make the College Football Playoff before the season starts, that is a futures bet. These often have higher odds because of the difficulty in correctly predicting events that occur so far in the future. In addition to betting on the College Football Playoff, another common option is wagering on the eventual winner of the Heisman Trophy.
Futures bets provide a long period of rooting interest as you can follow your bet for the entire season. Unexpected events, however, such as injuries or transfers, can ruin a futures bet in an instant. So keep that in mind.
Teasers are similar to parlays in that you combine multiple bets on one ticket. The difference is that you accept lower odds to gain points on the spread. For example, a seven-point teaser would mean that all spreads would move in your favor by seven.
For example, if Arizona State at -3 was one of the selections in your seven-point teaser, it would move to Arizona State +4. The odds for teasers will be much weaker than their counterpart parlays because of the points you receive.
Live betting during NCAA football games
One of the fastest-growing ways to wager on sports is live betting, and it’s perfectly suited for college football. Live betting means placing wagers on a game that is taking place at that very moment. You can imagine how this would enrich the viewing experience for any sport.
As far as betting options go, the majority of markets available before the game will remain open for live betting during the game. This changes slightly depending on your specific sportsbook, but more and more we are seeing the live betting options being just as robust as the pregame options.
The college football odds for live wagers will change rapidly to reflect what is happening in the game. These move fast, so it’s best to do your live betting from a computer or phone. This way you can take advantage of college football betting lines you like when you see them and place a bet before they move again. If you’re at a physical sportsbook, there’s usually not enough time to jump on odds for live betting as the entire process is too clunky.
Betting on the College Football Playoff and bowl games
Bowl season is one of the best times of the year for college football bettors. For those in Arizona who want to put some money down on the bowl games, there are many betting options on how to do so.
The New Year’s Six refers to the six major FBS bowl games that take place right around New Year’s Day. These are the:
- Orange Bowl
- Rose Bow
- Sugar Bowl
- Cotton Bowl
- Peach Bowl
- Fiesta Bowl
Besides these major bowl games, the big event of the year is the National Championship Game, which concludes the College Football Playoff.
These games have more pressure, more attention, and more money wagered on them as a result. They are some of the most popular for bettors, and there are a few additional bets that are available this time of year, mostly to do with which teams will win these games.
This time of year is also significant because you’ll see the results for many of your futures bets. Many people bet on who will win the national title, and they watch eagerly as the games unfold.
Three NCAA football betting tips
When you first start betting on college football, you’ll likely struggle as you fall into one of several beginner traps. Here are three common ones to look out for and hopefully avoid.
1. Don’t bet on everything
There are so many teams and conferences in the NCAA that it’s impossible to be knowledgeable about all of them. In addition, different conferences play very different styles, and that shows in the points scored. Instead of trying to be a generalist and know everything about all the teams, consider finding a niche and focusing on a smaller subsection of the college football betting market.
2. Don’t be afraid of big numbers
College football has a large disparity between the best teams and worst teams, and when they meet there are going to be huge spreads available. For example, a team could be favored by over 50 points. Similar large numbers also exist in the total when two high-octane offenses face off against each other.
For bettors coming from other sports, they may not be used to such large spreads, and they might stay away. Instead, do your research and figure out if it’s a strong bet. Don’t get scared off by the large numbers.
3. Shop for the best lines
Too many bettors stick to one sportsbook for all their gambling. Instead, look around at different lines from various books to find the best possible NCAA football odds. You may be surprised at how much lines can differ from sportsbook to sportsbook. By not finding the absolute best option available to you, you’re leaving potential money on the table. Why not spend the small amount of time it takes to shop around and get the best lines?
Signing up and placing your first bets on college football
Making an online sportsbook account and getting started with sports betting in AZ is simple and easy. You can do it from any electronic device, and the process allows you to start betting very fast.
You’re going to want to find your sportsbook of choice and click the link to download its app or visit its website. Make sure to look around for any sign-up bonuses or promotions. These will let you start your betting career with some extra money. Once you’ve picked your sportsbook and found a good promotion, create an account. This process will involve filling out some basic details about yourself as well as getting everything configured and ready to go.
Once you’ve set up your account, it’s time to pick a deposit option and add some funds. All of the major sportsbooks will offer a variety of deposit options so you should be able to find one that works for you. From there, you’re ready to start making some bets. Make sure to follow the tips outlined above and remember to have fun.