A Beginner’s Guide to College Football Betting

A Beginner’s Guide to College Football Betting

4 minutes

Last Updated: March 19, 2024

Alex Zlatanovic

In light of new state legislation legalizing online sports betting across the nation, sports gambling has become a nationwide phenomenon. The result was Americans gambling a record $66 billion on sports in 2023. DraftKings stock skyrocketed by over 200% last year, while ESPN finally entered the gambling space with ESPN Bet in November.

Among the most popular sports to gamble on was college football, a brand-new hobby for many Americans. Today, we’ll look at the college football betting landscape, cover some basics, and leave you with three tips for betting next season.

The Booming Popularity of College Football Betting

In May 2018, the Supreme Court’s decision to allow states to approve online gambling set the stage for a boom in sports gambling. 58% of 18-to-22-year-olds actively engaged in sports betting last year, and across the board, Americans saw a 28% increase in gambling between 2022 and 2023.

Betting is enshrined in sports culture, with nearly every major sports network promoting a gambling service. Almost every major network has programming around gambling, whether through television shows or podcasts. Betting on college football games is no exception, so if you want to get involved, it’s important to learn some basics.

Sports Betting Basics

Quick Sports Betting Basics

First, the most crucial consideration when gambling on sports is to gamble responsibly. Before taking up a new hobby, make sure that you are financially able to gamble and understand how it works. We’re here to help on the second one. Here are the most basic bets to know.

Point Spread

The point spread is the number of points a team is expected to win or lose by when facing a specific opponent. To cover the point spread, a gambler picks the side they believe will cover their respective spread.

For example, oddsmakers in the 2023 National Championship believed the Georgia Bulldogs would beat the TCU Horned Frogs by 13 points. Therefore, the spread was -13 for Georgia. They won by 58 points, so any better that took Georgia’s spread won their bet.


The money line is what a bettor picks when they want to bet on a specific team to win. The Bulldogs were a -450 favorite to beat TCU, meaning Georgia fans would have to bet $450 to win $100 on a Georgia win.


 If bettors don’t want to bet on a specific team, they can bet on the overall point total for the game. Every game has an over/under point total, and fans can bet that the two teams will score less than that number or more than that number.

In our example, the over/under for George and TCU was set at 63. The teams scored a combined 72 points, meaning that the bettor that took the over won their bet. With those terms in mind, let’s look at three quick tips for college football betting.

Tip #1: Keep an Eye on Injuries

Keep an Eye on Injuries When Betting

The name of the game in sports gambling is finding value. The oddsmakers work hard to level the playing field by being as accurate as possible. However, in some cases, betters can take advantage of variables like injuries. The best example of this was the 2017 Super Bowl.

With starting quarterback and MVP candidate Carson Wentz out due to a broken leg, Nick Foles started for the Eagles against Tom Brady’s Patriots in the Super Bowl. Despite that, the Patriots were less than a touchdown favorite at -4.5. Few things impact games more than injuries. The Eagles won that Super Bowl, and the -4.5 line had a lot of value due to that injury.

However, with injuries, fans have to be quick. When a player is designated out for a game, especially when he plays an important position or is one of the team’s best players, the oddsmaker lines will adjust to the injury fast. To take advantage, keep an eye on which players are injured and let that impact your decisions.

Tip #2: Know the Difference Between the NCAA and the NFL

Betting college football is much different than betting on professional football because the level of competition is much closer. An NFL point spread of 14 or more would rarely carry a lot of value, as blowouts are much less likely to happen.

However, in college football, blowouts are common. Ensure you are comfortable with the teams you are betting on before putting money on them. Further, some conferences, like the Big 12, are known for scoring a lot of points, while the Big 10 is known for defense, impacting the over/under lines.

Tip #3: Bet on What You Know

This may go without saying but don’t bet on teams or games you don’t know or aren’t invested in. The best way to be a successful sports gambler is to be educated. Don’t just follow the advice of shows or experts, although they are helpful. Be familiar with the sports and find value in the right games.

When Does the 2024 Season Start?

If you are anxious about the 2024 season, you’ll have to wait a bit longer to get started, as college football won’t return until late August. However, until then, spend your time reading and listening to experts on the subject and prepare for the season. You’ll be ready to make a serious impact when the season rolls around.

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