There’s no need to be a die-hard college football fan in order to get in the action during bowl season at Bodog Sportsbook. We’ve put together a beginner-friendly guide on how to bet on NCAA bowl games, so that everyone can get invested in the outcome of the 2019-20 college football postseason. But before we get to the betting segment of the program, we’ll briefly explain how the college football postseason works.

The college football postseason consists of games that are part of the College Football Playoff and games that aren’t. The College Football Playoff is made up of two semifinal matchups and a final. The four teams participating in the semifinal bowls come from Division I Football Bowl Subdivision and are selected by a 13-person panel every December. The winners of the two semifinals face each other in the National Championship game in January.

The bowl games that aren’t part of the College Football Playoff serve all divisions of the NCAA and provide bettors with ample opportunity to cash in on some smaller-market games. This year, the non-CFP bowls begin December 20, with the Bahamas Bowl and Frisco Bowl, and continue until January 6.


NCAAF Spread

Betting on the spread is a popular choice for NCAAF bowl games because it enables sportsbooks to offer generous payouts for the favourite, and also makes the underdog a more enticing pick. This is done by applying a win margin to the favourite and loss margin to the underdog; the margin is a number of points that the favourite must win by in order to “cover the spread” and pay bettors. As for the underdog, they can lose by a certain number of points (as dictated by the spread), and still pay their backers; alternatively, if the underdog team wins outright, their bets pay out that way too. We’ll use an example of the 2018-19 Rose Bowl between Washington and Ohio State to show the spread in action:

Washington +6.5

Ohio State Buckeyes -6.5

A negative spread always indicates the favourite in the matchup, while the positive one denotes the underdog. In this example, the Ohio State Buckeyes were 6.5-point favourites against Washington. In order for Ohio State bets to pay, the Buckeyes had to win by at least seven points. Washington, as a 6.5-point underdog, could have lost the game by a maximum of six points and still pay backers. The actual outcome of the game was a 28-23 win for Ohio State; since they beat the Huskies by five points, Washington bets paid out.


NCAAF Moneyline

When you bet on the moneyline, there’s no spread involved. You simply choose the team you think will win, and if they do, you get paid. The payout depends on the team’s odds of winning.

Washington Huskies +215

Ohio State Buckeyes -260

Just like with the spread, positive moneyline odds denote the underdog, while negative denotes the favourite. Positive odds show how much money you’d win based on a $100 bet. In our example, a $100 bet on the Huskies would have paid $215 if they won. Alternatively, the negative moneyline odds show how much you’d need to bet in order to win $100, so for the Buckeyes, a $260 bet paid $100.


NCAAF Totals

Not all bets require picking the team you think will win in a game. Totals ask you to decide how offensive or defensive a game will be in terms of total points scored between both teams. Oddsmakers come up with a number before the game, and you bet on whether you think that the actual total will go over or under the prediction, which is why this form of betting is also known as Over/Under.

The 2018 Rose Bowl total was set at 58, so bettors got to pick the Under if they thought both Washington and Ohio State would combine for fewer than 58 points, or the Over if they thought that they’d combine for more than 58 points. In reality, they combined for 51 points, so the Under paid out.


NCAAF Buying Points

Buying points allows bettors to shift the spread or total in a direction that increases their odds of winning, but it comes at a cost. You can buy a half-point, one point, or 1.5 points with college football. Let’s say you wanted the Ohio State Buckeyes, but the 6.5-point spread looks too risky. Buying a half-point would change the spread to six points, buying one point would change it to —5.5, and buying 1.5 points would change it to —5. The spread would shift in the opposite direction for the underdog, so buying a half-point for the Huskies would make the +6.5 spread +7.

The cost of buying points in NCAAF is an extra 10 cents on the line per half-point—unless the spread is moved onto or off of 3 points, in which case it would an extra 15 cents on top of the 10; the line refers to the odds in brackets that dictate the payout. Buying that half-point for the Buckeyes or Huskies would change a standard —110 price to —120. If there was a 3-point spread, the —110 price would increase to —135.


NCAAF Futures

Betting on events that will be resolved in the future, like the winner of the College Football Championship game, are what future bets are all about. A list of all of the potential contenders are available along with their corresponding odds; take your pick and if they win, you get paid.


NCAAF Props (Team, Player, Season)

Props are a fun way to enhance the NCAAF betting experience, as they’re like side bets that could be based on a team’s performance, or a player’s stats in either a single game or throughout the season. An example of a season prop would be a team’s proposed win total.


NCAAF Specials

Bets that don’t fall into the above categories can be considered NCAAF Specials; these usually appear for major events like the Final Four in January.


NCAAF Live Betting

When you bet live, you’re placing wagers as you watch the action unfold—it’s all done in the moment. All of the single bets above are available in our Live Betting portal, along with various game props.


NCAAF Betting Tips

Now that you know how to bet on college football, we’d like to provide a few tips to help you succeed. For one, the betting market for college football is much smaller than it is with the NFL. As a result, line changes will be more frequent and more dramatic than what you’re used to seeing with the professional league. That makes timing your bets more important because there could be a difference of four points on the spread, and every single point matters when it comes to covering.

The best advice for betting on underdogs who are up against big-market opponents is waiting until the initial wave of money gets placed on the favourite. On the other hand, if you want to bet on that big favourite, try to get in there before the masses, otherwise you risk losing out on the best deal. Keep this advice in mind when shopping the bowl game Vegas odds and you’ll pick up more strategies for how to bet on NCAA football effectively as you go.