This page will serve as your guide for betting on college football in the US. It will break down the basics of CFB betting, compare odds at legal sportsbooks in the US, and delineate the strategies that work best in the college game when compared to the NFL.
It’s never easy to consistently beat oddsmakers and win in sports betting, but this guide should help you get closer to cashing 50% of the time. Remember that even a 52.4% cash rate is a success in sports betting, and sports betting experts usually only cash 60% of the time at most. Following college beat reporters on Twitter and frequently checking in here at TheLines will help you stay ahead of the curve during the ever-changing landscape. Most importantly, stay water and taper expectations throughout the season. Intelligent and adaptable bettors could capitalize on the market.
We’ll also help you find the best sportsbooks and apps to bet on during the 2022 college football season.
College football odds
Here are college football odds for the first week of the 2022 NCAA football season. To bet a side, click on the odds below.
Notre Dame at Ohio State ()
AP rankings have yet to be released, but this may very well be a showdown between top-five teams in the opening weekend. Ohio State returns the nation’s most explosive offense, headlined by Heisman finalist CJ Stroud and superstar receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Notre Dame under new head coach Marcus Freeman bolstered their coaching staff and returns a steady team.
A new face at QB for the Irish, sophomore Tyler Buchner, takes on one of the best defensive play callers in the nation in newly-hired Jim Knowels. As the summer’s gone on, odds have moved in favor of Ohio State, up from a -13.5 opening mark.
Cincinnati at Arkansas ()
The People’s Champion in 2021 loses a ton of production, including star quarterback Desmond Ridder and both All American corners. They travel to Fayetteville to face an upstart Arkansas team who bolstered their roster with a beefy transfer class. KJ Jefferson is back behind center for the Razorbacks and Sam Pittman is a name to watch for Coach of the Year. This is the first-ever meeting between these two, and it couldn’t have come at a more intriguing time.
Cincinnati starts over after losing a ton of defensive talent to the NFL as well as starting QB Desmond Ridder. Transfer Ben Bryant steps in to assume the starting duties along with all five starting OL from a year ago.
Utah at Florida ()
After opening as a PK, odds are moving in favor of Utah. They travel ahead three time zones and to swampy Gainesville, Fla., in the dead of summer, but caught a break with a night kickoff. The Utes are steady at quarterback with gutty all-conference quarterback Cameron Rising and an athletic defense. The Gators kick off a fresh start under Billy Napier and his new regime. The country will be eager to see Anthony Richardson and his superstar potential with the keys to the offense.
Keep an eye on the injury status of Arizona State transfer Ricky Pearsall, who should be a cornerstone to the Gators’ receiving corps. Without him, it’s a thinly-stretched group who will be outmatched by Utah’s talented secondary.
Georgia () vs. Oregon
Besides being a terrific matchup between two defensively-sound teams, there’s plenty of storyline intrigue around this game. Former Georgia DC Dan Lanning begins his career as Oregon’s head coach against his former employer. Oregon has a completely new coaching staff, among the highest turnover in the country. However, the Dawgs lose plenty of staple playmakers on defense. Can Georgia, coming off their first national title in over 40 years, pick up where they left off? This game will be held in “neutral” Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Georgia maintains their status as a strong two-plus touchdown favorite, a number not likely to come down by kickoff. However, the line’s moved both ways at points in the summer; it’s worth monitoring throughout the offseason.
LSU () vs. Florida State
Among the most interesting teams of 2022 is LSU under new head coach Brian Kelly. LSU signed the third-best transfer class in the nation, per 247Sports and will have an entirely different identity this coming season. Florida State is a program seemingly headed in the right direction, though they missed out on bowl eligibility and finished under 0.500 last season.
A player to watch in this game is pass rusher Jared Verse, who transferred from FCS Albany to Florida State and may be one of the most disruptive players in the country this year. Verse gets a shot against an LSU offensive line that has many questions coming into the season.
Clemson () at Georgia Tech
The most interesting thing about this game is that it’s held on Monday night. Dabo Swinney and Clemson roll into 2022 with two new coordinators, though both were promoted from within. The Tigers opened as nearly three-touchdown favorites; could this be our first glimpse of hotly-anticipated Cade Klubnik? Will DJ Ugialeilei rebound from an abysmal 2021? Unless Georgia Tech really shocks the nation, those in the eastern time zone can celebrate and turn in at halftime.
Clemson figures to approach a three-touchdown favorite this offseason under one of the best defensive lines in the nation.
How to bet on college football
There are several ways to bet on most sporting events and college football is no exception. Here are some of the options for CFB betting, including some tips on when you might want to go with that specific type of wage:
- Moneyline: Taking the Moneyline means you’re betting on the winning team regardless of the margin of victory. Underdogs will get plus-odds on the Moneyline and the favorites will have negative odds. For example, if a team is heavily favored they will be listed as Alabama (-850), meaning that a successful $85 bet on the Crimson Tide would only pay out $10.
- Point Spread: The Point Spread is different in that it accounts for the expected margin of victory. In the NFL, the biggest favorites are usually giving 10-13 points, meaning a bet (likely at something close to -110 odds) is only successful if the favorite wins by 13-plus. These spreads can be much, much bigger in college. When playing a Group of Five program like Kent State, oddsmakers typically favor Big Ten powerhouse Ohio State by 40 points or more. This changes the game in terms of taking the favorite in the hopes of a truly one-sided affair.
- Point Total: Since these point spreads can often be set at such a lofty number, gamblers may lean towards betting the overall total of a game. The total usually presents equal odds proposition of taking the Over or Under. Some sites offer the opportunity to bet on the expected point total of one team (23.5 points for example).
- Proposition Bets: There are often an extensive number of Prop (or proposition) Bets where gamblers can wager on the individual performance of a player, the type of score to open a game, and the specific margin of victory. These options are often more expansive in prime time and bowl games. Gamblers can choose to combine multiple propositions on a game, or multiple bets on different games, into a Parlay. This wager is an all-or-nothing proposition which only pays out if all (anywhere between 2 and a dozen) bets are successful. The more bets added to a Parlay, the greater the potential payout.
- Teaser: A form of Parlay that involves a combination of two to ten wagers in which you can adjust the point spread or total to your specifications. These bets are therefore more likely to succeed, but the payouts are smaller than in a Parlay. We at the lines do not recommend teaser betting on college football, as demonstrated in a 166-game sample from 2021.
Best college football betting apps
There are a number of sports betting apps available in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Iowa, West Virginia and Indiana, with more states planning to go online by the end of the year. Here is a list of some of the top US sportsbooks apps:
NCAA markets and futures betting
The options listed above are for betting on individual games, but gamblers can also wager on NCAA futures. Rather than betting on an individual game, futures offer gamblers the opportunity to bet on the eventual National Champion, conference champions, or the number of wins that a team will accrue during the regular season.
There are also futures bets available on postseason awards, such as the Heisman Trophy. Here is a rundown of the favorites to win the 2022 Heisman Trophy:
- CJ Stroud
- Bryce Young
- Caleb Williams
Odds on futures bets will change throughout the season if a key player gets hurt or if a contender loses. Since the CFB season is short, one loss can very suddenly change odds.
There is also a futures section on most books where you bet the conference champion. The FBS conferences on books are the AAC, ACC, Big 10, Big 12, C-USA, MAC, MWC, Pac 12, and SEC. Most of these conferences have several contenders with relatively even odds, but others like the SEC may only feature two teams like Georgia and Alabama while the rest fall into the longshot category.
Strategies differ when betting on individual games versus futures. Timing is of paramount importance when betting futures, since you can effectively “buy low” on a player or team that’s struggling early in the season and get much better odds. Taking a futures bet towards the end of the season when the Heisman candidates are pretty much solidified will not be very profitable. Game lines are much more simple in terms of betting before the opening kickoff, or taking advantage of “live betting” in states where online gambling is legal and available.
College football betting tips
As mentioned above, CFB has more teams and far less parity than the NFL. That leads to some lopsided scores and lofty spreads. It can be difficult to find the right side of the line, but here are some analytics to consider:
Home Field Advantage
How historically strong is a particular team at home? Are you considering a school with a particularly dedicated fan base such as Penn State? Or betting a mid-major matchup between two schools in the MAC that will likely be played with light fanfare?
There are only a few games during the CFB season, but some count for more than others. The top teams in each conference often schedule a huge H2H rivalry game towards the end of the season, such as “The Game” between Ohio State and Michigan. It doesn’t always have to be the top teams, though, as Alabama has a more fierce rivalry with Auburn than SEC contender Georgia. The intensity of those rivalry games can often lead to closer finishes and that should be accounted for when betting point spreads.
Weather & Conditions
The weather can play a huge factor in the outcome of games and number of points scored. Obviously, poor weather makes it tougher to pass, catch, and kick, which often leads to fewer points. Some run-heavy teams thrive in inclement weather and teams from the south or west coast could struggle if playing on the road in a harsher climate.
As the average number of plays a team runs per game, this can primarily help you identify fast-paced games that are likely to go over the total, or slow-paced games that will go Under.
Points per drive
Points per drive is a much better indicator of a team’s success (or lack thereof) in scoring and stopping opponents from scoring than total scoring. Per game numbers can be skewed– especially in a short season– by a single outlier. Points per drive gives a better picture of not only how often teams are scoring on drives, but also what kind of scoring they’re doing (field goal? touchdown?).
Transfers & Team Experience
Recently, the transfer portal has become a staple in college football. Make sure to know where top transfers move to, as they can have tremendous impacts like Kenneth Walker III (transferred to Michigan State from Wake Forest in 2021). Team experience is also important, particularly in early-season and championship situations. Since we’re dealing with 18-22 year old players in game situations unlike anything they’ve played in before, an extra year or two from a QB or DB makes a world of difference.
This is an advanced tool that can help tremendously with live betting. Algorithms can provide the likelihood of a team holding on for the win and that makes for a very safe bet.
Injuries and Player Factors
Finally, you have to consider the health of key players and any potential storylines about a rift between a player and the coaching staff. Coaches have all the power in CFB and sometimes players will underperform if they feel slighted or otherwise mistreated.
Each game brings its own criteria in terms of analytics and there is almost always ample time to crunch the numbers and find an edge.
CFB betting vs. NFL betting
With so many more games on a CFB slate, it’s difficult for oddsmakers to dedicate as much time into researching each matchup. Sometimes oddsmakers will nail the line for high-profile games in the “Power Five” conferences, but will lose track of the mid-major games. That opens the door for savvy bettors to hammer a line that they think is off the mark.
There are significant differences in the format of each game. CFB teams can carry up to 83 players and certain programs will use nearly everyone on the team to maintain a fast-paced style.
There is slightly less betting activity in college compared to the NFL. Changes might be coming, but right now the NCAA doesn’t require CFB teams to release injury reports. The ACC used to require a pre-game injury report from teams, but has since nixed that requirement.
While information on injuries isn’t nearly as transparent in CFB, savvy bettors can find information via Twitter. This is a potential area to gain an edge since there is plenty of local media coverage and fan investment even if the coaches aren’t required to tip their hand.
Is college football betting legal?
When the Supreme Court overturned the Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May of 2018, it opened the door for individual states to legalize sports gambling. Beginning with New Jersey (the original plaintiff in the PASPA case), several states quickly moved to legalize and regulate the industry within state lines. Betting on college football and professional sports is still not federally legal, but residents in more than 20 states can place bets at live sportsbooks.
Do note that some states allow sports betting, but forbid it on college games; others may allow betting on college games, but not for in-state teams.
Most other states in the U.S. have introduced some sort of bill that would legalize sports gambling. Of course, some states are far closer than others to legalizing the industry. Visit our individual sports betting pages at TheLines.com to get a look at the status in each state.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many college football bowl games are there?
42 bowl games are scheduled for 2022-23 plus the National Championship game. That means 84 of the 131 FBS teams will play in a bowl, with the typical requirement for eligibility being six wins.
When are college bowl games announced?
College bowl games and their participants are announced after Conference Championship week and begin in mid-December.
How do spreads work in college football?
Favorites are handicapped by a point spread and bettors that take the favorite on a point spread will need the team to win by more than that number (-14 for example). Conversely, underdogs will pay out bets on the spread if they lose by 14 points or fewer in that example.
What is the over / under in college football?
Point totals in CFB are generally much higher than the NFL. Increased pace of play and lack of even talent on the defensive side of the ball could be to blame.
How many Division 1 football teams are there?
There are currently 131 FBS football teams in Division 1 and 126 teams in the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision). The FCS is comprised of 14 conferences and the FBS is comprised of 10 conferences, plus seven independent teams. Be aware that July 1, 2023 marks a massive shift in conference membership and will introduce two new FBS teams. James Madison became the 131st FBS team for the 2022 football season.
How many players can be on a college football team?
Programs in the FBS are able to give 85 players financial aid, but only 63 can receive full scholarships. There is no limit on how many players can dress for a game per NCAA rules, but conferences such as the Big Ten limit the number to 70 players. The NCAA does require that a maximum of 105 players take part in preseason camp. Legislation is rumored to be in place to remove scholarship and roster limits.
Where is the national championship game in 2022 – 2023?
The 2023 College Football Playoffs National Championship game will be played at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.
What is the purpose of college bowl games?
Bowl games have become a holiday tradition and an exciting goal for players, coaches, and fans to cap their seasons. Players remain invested in ending their season or careers on a high note.