College Football Betting Guide

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2020 College Football Bowl Odds Breakdown

Who’s the No. 1 team in college football? According to NCAAF head coaches, it’s the Clemson Tigers. The preseason polls are out, and the defending national champions lead the way, earning 59 out of 65 first-place votes. The remaining six votes went to the Alabama Crimson Tide, who fell 44-16 to Clemson (+5) at last year’s title game. Given the success Dabo Swinney has enjoyed over Nick Saban in recent years, it looks like the changing of the guard is finally complete.

Not so fast. The odds to win the 2020 National Championship are on the board at Bovada Sportsbook; Clemson and Alabama are tied for first – well ahead of the competition, but tied nonetheless. Saban and the Tide aren’t going away quietly. They might even have the advantage over Clemson this year, given all the changes that took place during the offseason.

College Football Playoff Odds: The Favorites

It’s not written in stone that either Clemson or Alabama will win the title – although it’s more likely than not to work out that way. Here are the top five favorites on the 2019-2020 NCAA football odds board at press time:

1. Clemson Tigers: +225 College Football Bowl Odds

The focus in Clemson is on QB Trevor Lawrence, the No. 2 favorite at +275 to win this year’s Heisman Trophy. But the real concern is on defense, in the trenches, where the Tigers saw three players taken in the first round of the NFL Draft: DE Clelin Ferrell (No. 4, Oakland), DT Christian Wilkins (No. 13, Miami) and DT Dexter Lawrence (No. 17, N.Y. Giants). There are holes to fill with the linebackers, too, although the secondary should be amazing once again. Swinney’s recruiting prowess will be tested this year.

2. Alabama Crimson Tide: +225 College Football Bowl Odds

Saban has a bit of work to do himself, with DT Quinnen Williams going No. 3 overall to the New York Jets. However, there hasn’t been nearly the same roster turnover in Tuscaloosa. This year’s Tide could easily roll over the rest of the 2019 college football odds board. The only evident weakness on this team is the kicking game, although QB Jalen Hurts leaving for Oklahoma might come back to haunt ‘Bama if Heisman favorite Tua Tagovailoa (+250) has any slip-ups, like he did in last year’s SEC title game against the next team on our list.

3. Georgia Bulldogs: +650 College Football Bowl Odds

Quarterback depth could be an issue in Atlanta, too, after Justin Fields took his talents to the Big Ten. Jake Fromm is a quality pivot, though, and he’ll be working behind one of the best offensive lines in college football. Head coach Kirby Smart has surrounded Fromm with some blue-chip recruits, including wideouts George Pickens and Dominick Blaylock; they have a chance to become stars right away under new offensive co-ordinator James Coley – also known for his recruiting acumen. The Bulldogs still need to work on their pass rush if they want to get over the Alabama-sized hump in the SEC.

4. Ohio State Buckeyes: +950 College Football Bowl Odds

With a smooth transition from Urban Meyer to new head coach Ryan Day, the biggest question mark for the Buckeyes this year is Fields taking the reins in Columbus after the departure of QB Dwayne Haskins (No. 15, Washington). There’s no shortage of talent on either side of the ball, and Fields will have an incredibly potent array of receivers to throw at, leaving him as the No. 3 Heisman favorite (+900) on the college football odds list. But we’ve only seen Fields in NCAA action twice, mopping up in blowout wins for Georgia over Austin Peay and UMass.

5. Oklahoma Sooners: +1400 College Football Bowl Odds

First there was Baker Mayfield and then there was Kyler Murray launching the Sooners into contention the previous two years. This year, Oklahoma will look to Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts to take the reins and lead the Sooners past the semifinals, where Alabama beat them last year, and Georgia the year before. The addition of new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch should help their case for 2020 National Championship, as their defense has struggled in seasons past, and that will be even more important this season. After leading the nation in scoring last year (48.4 PPG), the Sooners lost eight offensive starters and will be looking for a way to maintain their edge.  

Odds as of August 20th, 2019

How to Bet on College Football 

Is college football the new King of Sports? Judging by the recent explosion in NCAA football betting, the answer just might be yes. On any given week during the season, betting on college football can out-strip the mighty NFL in terms of volume. Here’s a quick look at all the different ways you can join the NCAAF betting revolution at Bovada Sportsbook, from the popular point spread to the more exotic choices on the gridiron menu.



College Football Spread Betting 

Even if you’re just learning how to bet on college football, you’re probably familiar with the point spread. This is the most common way to bet on football. Instead of betting on one of the two teams in a game to win straight-up, the favorite (the team considered most likely to win) is given a handicap of a certain number of points. This is known as the spread, and you bet on one of the two teams to cover the spread rather than win outright.


As an example, let’s go back in time to the famous 2006 Rose Bowl between the No. 1 USC Trojans and the No. 2 Texas Longhorns, who were both undefeated heading into this National Championship Game. The Trojans, with Pete Carroll as head coach and Matt Leinart at quarterback, were favored by seven points; for USC to cover the spread, they would need to beat Texas by more than seven. As the underdogs, the Longhorns could lose by up to six points and still cover the spread. A 7-point Trojans victory would result in a push, with all monies returned to the bettors.

Here’s how the game in question would have looked on the college football betting board:

  • Texas +7 (–110)
  • USC  –7 (–110)


The Trojans were the designated home team for the 2006 Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, so they were listed at the bottom. The “–7” next to their name means that USC was a 7-point favorite, while the “+7” means that the Longhorns were 7-point underdogs. Next to those numbers, you’ll see “(–110)” to the right. These odds, also known as the juice, refer to what bettors pay when they place their wagers. In this case, as it usually is, the odds were –110 for either team, meaning you’d bet $110 to win $100, or $11 to win $10, or any multiple thereof.


Once the dust had cleared on this exciting game, it was the Longhorns winning 41-38 on a fourth-down, last-minute touchdown run by QB Vince Young from eight yards out. But Texas already had this game covered from a betting standpoint. Even if the Trojans had stopped Young from scoring, barring a miraculous TD return of their own, USC would have won 38-33 – not quite enough to cover the 7-point spread.







College Football Moneyline Betting 

The moneyline is the original way to bet on football, and it remains in use to this day. This is where you bet on one team or the other to win straight-up; in the very rare event of a tie, your wager is graded as a push. Here’s what the moneyline for the 2006 Rose Bowl would have looked like:

  • Texas +280
  • USC  –360


Again, USC were the favored team, with the negative sign next to their odds. In order to win $100, you would have bet $360 on the Trojans. On the flip side, a $100 bet on the underdog Longhorns (with the positive sign next to their odds) would have paid back $280 in profit if they won outright – which they did.



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College Football Total Betting 

This is a more recent addition to the NCAAF betting menu, somewhere around 50 years ago, but it’s become one of the more popular ways to bet on college football. Instead of picking a team, you bet on whether the combined final score will go Over or Under the posted total, which is why this bet is often called the over/under. You can expect a lot of action on the total when two high-scoring teams are involved, like at the 2006 Rose Bowl:


  • Texas O 70 (–110)
  • USC  U 70 (–110)

Here, the total of 70 points is shown both on top and on bottom, with –110 odds on either side. The betting line on top represents the Over, while the line on the bottom represents the Under. This is important to remember, because there will be times where the odds are larger or smaller on one side; the sportsbook will adjust the lines as required in an attempt to balance the action on the Over and Under. The odds you get when you place your wager are the odds that will be used to determine whether you won or not. The combined final score at the 2006 Rose Bowl was 79 points, so anyone who bet $110 on the Over earned $100 in profit.



College Football Parlay Betting

With a parlay, you take a series of single bets (between two and 12), and you combine them into one wager. If all your picks come true, you get paid exponentially more than you would have betting them all individually. But if any one pick goes sour, you lose the parlay. Any pushes are discarded as the parlay gets reduced; for example, a 3-team parlay with a push in the results is turned into a 2-team parlay, and graded as such.


When we use the word team in reference to a parlay, it doesn’t have to be a team that you’re betting on. It can be a total, as well, and you can sometimes even parlay some props and futures. You can even combine the spread and total from a single game, or the moneyline and the total – but not the spread and the moneyline. Pro tip: Try parlaying the favorite and the Over from the same game, or the underdog and the Under. Favorites tend to cover more often in higher-scoring games, and high totals are a pretty good indicator that there’s going to be plenty of offense on display.



College Football Prop Betting 

Proposition bets, or prop bets for short, have been around since ancient times. When it comes to NCAA football betting, props ask you to wager on just about anything other than the actual outcome of a game. You can bet on game, team and player props, which cover relatively common things like how many touchdown passes a quarterback will throw. You can also bet on season props like who will win the Heisman Trophy, or special props like what color of “sports drink” will get dumped over the winning coach at the National Championship Game. Note that some props can be added to your parlay cards, as can the next bet type on our list.








College Football Futures Betting 

Instead of betting on an event that’s just about to happen, you can bet on something that won’t be resolved until later – like who wins the National Championship. That’s what NCAAF futures betting is all about. Once the title has been awarded, or even slightly beforehand, the futures odds for the next season will be posted; not every FBS team will have title odds attached, but most of them will. You can place these bets year-round, and you’ll be paid when the season ends and the results are determined, so this is a long-term investment if you do it early in the year. Futures odds for conference titles and division titles are also available.



College Football Buying Points 

If you want to bet on a certain team, but you’d like to hedge your bet a little, you can “buy” an extra half-point and either add or take it away from the spread. For example, if the Trojans had been pegged as 7.5-point favorites at the 2006 Rose Bowl, you could have paid an extra 10 cents (that is, –120 odds instead of –110) to bet them at –7 instead. Or, if the Longhorns had been +6.5, you could have paid the same price to bet them at +7. You can only buy a half-point onto a “flat” number like 7, as in this example, and if you want to change the spread to –3 or +3, you’ll have to pay 15 cents in juice, since three points is easily the most common winning margin in college football.



College Football Teaser Betting 

A teaser is a special kind of parlay where you move the line for each wager by a certain number or points: 6, 6.5, or 7. For these teasers, you can only combine a maximum of 10 teams rather than 12, and you can only combine point spreads and/or totals. There are also sweetheart teasers where you can move the lines by 10 or even 13 points; sweetheart teasers must include at least three teams, and no more than 10. The payouts for teasers get smaller as you move the lines by more points, but the chances of cashing in your bet improve dramatically.



College Football Round Robin Betting 

Lastly, we have the Round Robin bet, which allows you to pick anywhere between three and eight lines and combine them into parlays of between two to seven teams. Every possible combination of lines can be included; if you pick three lines, your Round Robin bet can create three different 2-team parlays. The software will figure out all the combinations for you when you fill out your Bet Slip at Bovada Sportsbook – which is very handy, because a Round Robin bet with eight lines and four teams will produce 70 different combos. As with standard parlays (and teasers), Round Robins will reduce by one team in the event of a push.


For more information on all these college football bet types, consult the Sports FAQ in our comprehensive Help section, and as always, feel free to call Customer Service 24/7 if you have any other questions. Then get ready for the greatest NCAAF betting experience you’ll find anywhere, right here at Bovada Sportsbook.


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