If the Super Bowl is considered sports betting’s national holiday, then mid-December to early January could likely be labeled sports betting’s Mardi Gras — a multi-week celebration with no shortage of revelry.
College bowl season has something for every bettor on a near-daily basis beginning Monday, Dec. 21 and culminating on Monday, Jan. 11 in the College Football Playoff National Championship in Miami. Alabama dismissed Notre Dame in the CFP semi-finals on New Year’s Day and will advance to the national title game. The Crimson Tide will face Ohio State, which upended Clemson.
Alabama opened as a 6.5-point favorite at FanDuel Sportsbook.
TheLines has collected all of the pertinent information necessary for you to place your moneyline, point spread, and parlays and totals bets on all of this season’s bowl matchups.
College football bowl odds and schedule
College Bowl props
Looking for team and player props to bet on during bowl season? Use our props search tool to find the best current odds at US sportsbooks.
Monday, Jan. 11
CFP National Championship Game: No. 3 Ohio State vs No. 1 Alabama – 8pm ET
A tumultuous and uncertain season is almost in the books and college football’s two best teams are set to square off in Miami. Both No. 3 Ohio State and No. 1 Alabama bring explosive passing offenses coupled with bruising run games in a game that may be decided by whichever team has the football last. Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith leads the Crimson Tide after hauling in 20 receiving touchdowns this season. He’ll be matched up against All American corner Shaun Wade for most of the game. Justin Fields leads a talented receiving corps– highlighted by Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave– against All American corner Patrick Surtain II.
Ohio State is the 31st scoring defense in the FBS (22 points allowed per game) this season and will look to try to slow down Heisman finalist Mac Jones, who led the nation in passer rating this year. Both passing attacks are coupled by outstanding running backs, Trey Sermon (Ohio State) and Najee Harris (Alabama). Sermon has rushed for 335 yards and 193 yards in his last two games, respectively. Harris leads the nation in rushing touchdowns on the year with 24.
There’s no question that the two remaining teams are the best in the nation and they bring the promise of fireworks on Jan. 11. No matter the outcome, it’s bound to be a great game.
How to watch bowl games in 2020-21
With games being played daily, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with trying to keep up with them all. Fortunately, you’ll only need a couple of clicks of the remote to take in all 100+ hours of bowl season madness.
ESPN carries a majority of bowl games, including the entire College Football Playoff. Last year, ESPN2 aired just the Frisco Bowl. CBS carried the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl and CBSSN was home to both the Cure Bowl and the Arizona Bowl.
Fox only aired the Redbox Bowl. ABC holds the rights to the remaining bowl games (Celebration, Boca Raton, Las Vegas, Camping World, and Citrus Bowls).
All bowl games can be streamed on the network’s respective Apps, with many available on ESPN+. A full list of the game dates, times, and networks can be found here.
How to bet on college football
Before jumping into betting, one has to understand what kind of bets exist. The first is the moneyline. Moneyline is the most simple, where one bets outright winners. Take the following moneyline for example:
- Notre Dame +790
- Alabama -1500
In this instance, Alabama is a huge favorite (-1500), meaning you’d have to bet $1500 to win $100 (plus your original bet amount back). Notre Dame (+790) is the underdog in this game, meaning if you bet $100, you’d win $790 (plus your original amount bet back).
Along with every moneyline, you have a point spread. The purpose of point spreads is to bring the teams to even in the sportsbook or, for bettors, how much a team is expected to win or lose by each game. Take the following point spread for example:
- Notre Dame +19.5 (-108)
- Alabama -19.5 (-112)
Alabama was the favorite in this game, favored by 19.5 points. Bettors would consider if they think Alabama will win by over 19.5 points or more. If a bettor thinks Alabama would win by less than 19.5 points, they would take Notre Dame +19.5.
The numbers in parentheses indicate how much money one would win on a bet.
“Why do I have to bet $110 to win $100 back so often?” The $10 discrepancy is referred to as the “vig,” or the fee a sportsbook charges for the bet.
The above example is a half-point number, but many times bets will include whole numbers. Say Alabama was favored by exactly 19 points and won by exactly 19 points. That would be referred to as a push, where all bettors would be returned their betting amount.
Those who want to bet on the over/under would consider all of the points scored in each game. Take the following over/under for example:
- Notre Dame vs. Alabama (O/U )
If one thinks the two teams will combine for more points than the total shown above, they would bet the Over. If not, they would bet the Under. Over/unders can take the risk of upsets out of the game, and the bettor would end up rooting for both teams to score, or neither team to score.
Parlays refer to a string of bets that must all win in order for the bettor to cash out. Though high-risk, there are much higher payouts on parlays.
Basic NCAAF betting strategies & tips
It’s one thing to play weekly pick ‘em based on intuition or to pick a March Madness bracket based on mascots. But when it comes to betting games, you’ll need to make careful and calculated picks or it could cost you.
First, you should always check for unusual or inclement weather if the game is played outdoors. Rain, snow, and wind negatively impacts scoring and passing offenses (although elite offenses and NFL-ready players are less affected). You might notice games that would normally see a high over/under fall if heavy rain and wind is expected.
This should be a no-brainer. When Alabama’s star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa went down for the rest of the season with a hip injury last year, the Crimson Tide were not considered as heavy favorites. However, don’t just check for star quarterbacks– injuries defensive backs, left tackles, and offensive centers can change the tide of a game.
Statistics and metrics
There’s so many advanced stats these days, it’s hard to know which ones to really take into consideration. Scoring offense and defense statistics are important, but should be taken with context. For example, Cincinnati ranked 52nd in total defense in 2019, but faced four top-10 offenses in the season. Therefore, it shouldn’t be assumed that the Bearcats will give up a bunch of points (against all other opponents, they gave up more than 20 points just twice).
Look for statistical “matchups” when considering games, as well.
In nearly every game, individual mismatches can be found (tall receivers vs short defensive backs, athletic tight ends vs pass-vulnerable linebackers, or speedy edge rushers vs slower offensive tackles).
The venue a game is played in should be taken into account. When a team travels to LSU on a Saturday night, they are fighting an uphill battle before a snap is played; Tiger Stadium under the bright lights imposes one of the most daunting atmospheres in all of sports. Time the game is played is also a factor, since “Cinderella” teams (ex. Minnesota in 2019) can succumb to the pressure of primetime.
Coaching is a major factor and might affect games the most in games played between elite college football teams.
Playing the market
When betting, don’t just take the first line you come across. Betting is buying, and you should carefully consider all of your options; spreads can differ slightly from book to book. If you’re hesitant to take Notre Dame -7, another sportsbook might offer Notre Dame -6.5.
Timing is also key. Books often release initial lines to get people to bet a certain way (example, Alabama -19.5 vs Notre Dame). This huge spread will get initial bettors to take Notre Dame (+19.5) and the line might move in favor of Alabama (to -18.5 or so). You’ll want to monitor lines multiple times a day until it, a) stays consistent or, b) gives you the best odds. This is the case with both spreads and over/under totals.