College Football Betting Ultimate Guide

SB3 has the ultimate College Football betting guide. See which sportsbooks we recommend. Next, learn the college football betting strategies. Review our historical BCS Championship results and records. See recent College football playoff results 2014 to present. View the latest National Championship and Heisman Trophy futures odds.

** Important Update **
The following conferences have postponed or cancelled their 2020 football season.

  1. Ivy League Conference
  2. SWAC – Southwestern Athletic Conference
  3. MAAC – Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
  4. Pac 12 – Pacific 12 Athletic Conference

Pending Restart:

  • Big 10 – Big 10 Athletic Conference
  • 2021 NCAA College Football Championship Futures Odds - Top 15 Teams
    Last Updated December 28, 2020 1:33 pm
    Outcomebovada Bovada
    1. AlabamaAlabama
    2. ClemsonClemson
    3. Ohio StateOhio State
    4. Notre DameNotre Dame

    Cached 2021-01-22 16:00:27

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    1. Current Matchup Odds
    2. Best Bets
    3. Best College Football Teams
    4. Betting Tips
    5. College Football Trick Plays
    6. Can AP Preseason Rankings Predict a National Champion?
    7. Tables & Reference
    8. Live College Football Odds – Tap Here

    Current Matchups

    Upcoming NCAAFB Matchups
    + Displays more odds
    Matchupbovada Bovadamybookie Mybookiebetonline Betonline

    NG Cached 2021-01-23 17:36:53

    College Football Betting

    1. Fade the Public 80% or Higher in Big Games

    “Big Games” are matchups between major conference rivalries. Ignore matchups between mid-level teams that don’t garner much attention.

    Suppose LSU at Alabama opens Alabama -5½. Favorite Alabama must win by 6 or more points. Underdog LSU cannot lose by more than 6. Read about spread betting here.

    First, review this matchup’s market. Suppose 80% of the public is taking favorite Alabama. Both are popular SEC football teams. It’s likely many people have bet on this game. See current public betting chart here.

    Second, research each teams’ record against the spread (ATS). See this website. Check how often Alabama covers as a favorite. Review LSU’s performance as an underdog. Suppose LSU has a winning ATS record.

    Third, check the line. Suppose it just moved to Alabama -7. This change suggests heavy action on the favorite. Alabama must now win by 8 or more points. A 7 point win ties the spread. Latest NCAAFB odds here.

    Combine the results of your handicapping research:

    1. 80% Alabama public money.
    2. LSU’s winning record ATS.
    3. Line moves against Alabama.

    Taking underdog LSU represents much better value than following the public. It’s likely many bettors picked Alabama without taking a hard look at the numbers. compiled the following data from the 2015-16 college football season. The overall win rate is higher when betting against the public in big games.

    2015-16 College Football Betting Against Public
    *Big Games
    Public Betting Big Games ATS Win Rate
    <50% 172-154 52.8%
    <40% 105-93 53.0%
    <35% 77-68 53.1%
    <30% 45-42 51.7%

    Note the lousy win rates for betting against the public in small games. Avoid second tier teams and inconsequential matchups.

    2. Spread and Total Straight Bets

    College Football Betting Against the Spread

    Analyze college football ATS trends to guide your betting strategy. Note how favorites vs. underdogs perform against the spread. Review similar data for home vs. away teams.

    Dig deeper. Assess how home teams perform as favorites vs. underdogs. Do the same for away teams. Many valuable trends will develop over the course of a season. Use this link to see current and historical College Football ATS trends.

    College Football Total Betting

    You can identify good total betting opportunities from a sportsbook’s spread and total numbers. See our calculation here. You have an edge if total isn’t consistent with the calculation.

    If the projected total is under the sportsbook’s total, bet the under. If the projected total is over the sportsbook’s total, bet the over.

    Tip Watch our video explaining how to place total bets here.

    3. College Football Prop Bets

    Carefully handicap top teams and players. Review your sportsbook’s college football props page. Odds are commonly expressed as moneylines. Learn more about moneyline betting here.

    The following are the most common college football prop bets.

    Odds to Win the Heisman Trophy

    2022 Heisman Trophy Futures Odds - Top 20 Athletes
    Last Updated January 4, 2021 1:33 pm
    Outcomebovada Bovada
    1. Devonta Smith
    2. Mac Jones
    3. Trevor Lawrence
    4. Kyle Trask

    Cached 2021-01-22 19:30:42

    Example Heisman Trophy Odds

    • Johnson +700
    • Baker +1500
    • Smith +1800

    This prop is a bet on this season’s future Heisman Trophy winner. Sportsbooks will offer odds for 20+ players. The 3-player list above is just an example.

    Note each player’s odds. Minus numbers indicate a heavy favorite. Bettors must risk the ML value in dollars to make $100.

    Plus numbers indicate less likely underdogs. A list with all plus numbers suggests no obvious favorite. Bettors must risk $100 to win the ML value.

    Other individual player props work the same way. Make regular visits to your sportsbook’s props page. Prop bet lines and odds will update throughout the season.

    Taking the most likely team isn’t necessarily an obvious winner. The least likely team could be a better value. Always research scoring trends of each team.

    4. College Football Championship Futures

    (See latest odds top of page)

    Example Odds to win the Championship

    • Alabama +190
    • Clemson +500
    • Georgia +850
    • Ohio State +850

    This future is a bet on a team’s probability of winning the National Championship. Bettors may choose 2 or more teams to manage risk.

    Positive numbers indicate a less likely result. Risk $100 to with the ML value. Negative numbers indicate a more likely result. Risk the ML value to win $100.

    See Also:

    • More stats in Tables & Reference below.
    • Review our analysis of AP preseason rankings below

    Research your team as much as possible before betting. Bet immediately before the prop closes. Taking this bet too early is risking. Never bet with incomplete information.

    5. Team Season Win Totals

    This bet is a prop and future hybrid. Season win totals will have one negative and one positive value. These numbers assign odds to results above or a below a win total line.

    Example Alabama Regular Season Wins

    • Over 11 -120
    • Under 11 -110

    Risk $120 to win $100 that Alabama will win more than 11 games.
    Risk $110 to win $100 that Alabama will win less than 11 games.
    Note: Bet ties if Alabama wins exactly 11 games.

    Example Washington State Regular Season Wins

    • Over 6.5 +120
    • Under 6.5 -150

    This win total line includes ½ points. That means no tie bets are possible.

    Risk $100 to win $120 that Washington State win more than 6.5 games. A result of 7 or more wins.
    Risk $150 to win $100 that Washington State win less than 6.5 games. A result of 6 or less wins.

    Handicap each team’s schedule. A historically strong team with an easy schedule suggests a winning final record. If you think they’ll win more games than the sportsbook’s line, bet over.

    Place small bets. Your money will be tied up until the wager can be graded. This commonly happens at the end of the season. Or, when the team can no longer win enough games to exceed the win line. Then the under wins.

    Best College Football Teams 2000 to Present

    1. 2001 Miami Hurricanes

    College Football Betting 2001 Miami Hurricanes
    • Record: 12-0
    • Total Points: 512
    • Ave. PPG: 42.7
    • Ave. Margin of Victory: 32.9

    Miami cruised to the 2001 National Championship with a perfect 12-0 record. The Hurricanes crushed their opponents winning by an average of 32.9 points.

    17 players were first round NFL draft picks. That includes wide receiver Andre Johnson who was the BCS Championship co-MVP with quarterback Ken Dorsey.

    Johnson later enjoyed a 14 year career in the NFL, mostly spent on the Houston Texans.
    Dorsey returned as a senior to lead Miami to the 2002 BCS Championship where they eventually lost to Ohio State in double overtime. In 2003 he was drafted in the seventh round to the San Francisco 49ers.

    2. 2005 Texas Longhorns

    College Football Betting 2005 Texas Longhorns
    • Record: 13-0
    • Total Points: 652
    • Ave. PPG: 50.2
    • Ave. Margin of Victory: 33.8

    Texas eked out a 41-38 2005 BCS Championship win against defending National Champions Southern California. The Longhorns’ dramatic victory was the perfect topper to a 13-0 undefeated season.

    Quarterback Vince Young powered the team’s offense all season. He was the first college quarterback to pass for 2,500 yards and rush for 1,000 in the same season.

    Young, cornerback Aaron Ross and safeties Michael Griffin and Michael Huff went on the NFL. Vince Young played with the Tennessee Titans from 2006-2010, then with the Philadelphia Eagles for 2011. He retired in 2014.

    3. 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide

    College Football Betting 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide
    • Record: 12-1
    • Total Points: 453
    • Ave. PPG: 34.8
    • Ave. Margin of Victory: 27.5

    Alabama’s 21-0 National Championship victory against LSU is the only shutout in BCS history. It was sweet revenge for Coach Nick Saban after the Crimson Tide finished second to the Tigers in the SEC.

    Alabama’s defensive prowess goes without mention. It allowed just 8.2 points per game. Only one other team scored more than 14 points against them all season. This helped the 2011 Crimson Tide win most games comfortably, including a 42-14 romp over Auburn.

    Tailback Trent Richardson was a first round NFL draft pick. He was joined by 3 teammates from Alabama’s formidable defense: Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick and Dont’a Hightower.

    4. 2013 Florida State Seminoles

    • Record: 14-0
    • Total Points: 723
    • Ave. PPG: 51.6
    • Ave. Margin of Victory: 41.8

    Believe it or not, Florida State wasn’t ranked in the top 10 when the 2013-14 season began. Minds changed after the Seminoles started crushing seemingly better competition.

    Freshman quarterback phenom Jameis Winston led the charge. FSU scored more than 50 points in seven games. This feat bumped their average points per game to an all-time FBS record 51.6. Their 723 season point total is also a record.

    Winston also won the 2013 Heisman Trophy. He joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015 as the #1 overall draft pick. Any other choice would have been a gross oversight after his stellar performance with the Seminoles.

    5. 2010 Auburn Tigers

    • Record: 14-0
    • Total Points: 577
    • Ave. PPG: 41.2
    • Ave. Margin of Victory: 15.5

    Auburn didn’t exactly steamroll its opponents. In fact, the Tigers won 6 games by a touchdown or less. They made the 2011 National Championship facing the Oregon Ducks. The game was tied 19-19 with just over 2 minutes left. A favorable call secured a 37 yard gain for Auburn, setting up the eventual winning field goal.

    Quarterback Cam Newton went on to win the Heisman Trophy. He was drafted #1 overall by the Carolina Panthers. He later took Carolina to the Super Bowl earning an MVP in the process.

    Auburn faded somewhat after Newton’s departure. The Tigers remain a strong perennial SEC contender but have yet to make another National Championship. This is understandable given the long shadow Alabama casts from Tuscaloosa.

    College Football Betting Tips

    1. Refresh your bankroll before College Football begins. Deposit early to avoid last minute credit card processing glitches.
    2. Monitor College Football betting props. Visit your sportsbook’s prop page regularly.
    3. Shop college football lines from multiple sportsbooks. SB3 has live odds here.
    4. Avoid large parlay bets of 4 or more selections. These wagers are risky. Stick to +EV spread bets, totals and moneylines.
    5. Consider taking a big underdog on the moneyline vs. against the spread. Winning underdog moneylines have higher expected value than underdog spread bets.

    Greatest College Football Trick Plays

    2019 Case Study: Can AP Preseason Rankings Predict a National Champion?

    Note: Due to multiple cancellations arising from the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, we will not be updating this case study for the 2020-2021 season. It will be updated next year prior to the 2021-2022 season. Last year’s analysis follows below…

    We’ve analyzed AP (Associated Press) Preseason college football rankings from 1998 to 2019. The goal was to determine if these rankings can predict the eventual National Champion.

    The following insights will be helpful for National Championship futures bettors. Payouts are usually higher before a season begins because sportsbooks don’t have enough data to handicap each team. Strong teams losing the first 1-2 games will also get underdog status until they start winning again.

    Preseason Rank Performance – 1998 to 2019

    Read first column as teams ranked N or higher.
    #2 or higher1047.62%
    #3 or higher1152.38%
    #4 or higher1152.38%
    #5 or higher1466.67%
    #6 or higher1466.67%
    #7 or higher1571.43%
    #8 or higher1571.43%
    #9 or higher1571.43%
    #10 or higher1676.19%

    14.29% of preseason teams ranked #1 eventually won the National Championship. Choosing the #1 team is a bad bet. It’s only happened 3 times since 1998!

    Preseason Teams Ranked #1 that Won Championship – 1998 to 2019

    Preseason teams ranked #1 to win
    1999#1Florida State

    But 52.38% of teams ranked #3 or #4 or higher did win. That’s a coin flip. Still a risky bet by some measures.
    A better bet? 65% of preseason teams ranked 5 or higher went on to win. Now probability is on the future bettor’s side.

    Let’s dig into each rank’s performance. Some ranks perform better than others. Eliminating poor performers potentially decreases the cost of our future bet.

    Most Common Rank to Win – 1998 to 2019

    Most Common Ranks to Win and Percentage

    Notice #2 teams win more than double the times a #1 wins. Bad news for any #1 and good news for this season’s #2. Interestingly #5 teams have won as much as #1 teams.

    No #4 ranked preseason team has ever won the Championship between 1998-2019. The last #4 to win was Florida in 1996. #4 Nebraska also did it in 1994.

    Does that mean the #4 team should be removed from our 5 team futures bet? It’s not a bad idea. You’ll save money paying only for 4 teams. Check each team’s historical performance before marching off to your bookie:

    Times Top 5 Preseason Teams Won Championship – Best Records: 1998 to 2019

    Win, Loss and Win Percentage for preseason teams ranked 5 or better winning Championship at least once
    TeamWonLostTop 5 Seasons WinPct
    Miami (FL)13425.00%
    Florida State17812.50%
    Ohio State191010.00%

    Clemson has the best record of all top 5 teams between 1998-2019, winning the National Championship 66.67% of the time. Keep a top 5 Clemson team in your futures bet!

    Alabama and Miami (FL) have won 45% and 25% of the time respectively. Florida and LSU have each won once in their 6 top 5 preseason rankings appearances. These teams are less reliable.

    Now let’s check the worst performers.

    Times Top 5 Preseason Teams Didn’t Win Championship – Worst Records: 1998 to 2019

    Preseason teams ranked 5 or better that have never won the championship
    TeamWonLostTop 5 Seasons WinPct
    West Virginia0220.00%
    Boise State0220.00%
    Notre Dame0110.00%
    Penn State0110.00%
    Michigan State0110.00%

    The AP ranked the Oklahoma Sooners 10 times in the preseason top 5 between 1998-2019. Each time they failed to win the National Championship. Michigan and Oregon both appeared 4 times and never won, either. Georgia, Tennessee and Nebraska each failed 3 times. Nebraska last won in 1997. Tennessee won in 1998 ranked #10 in the preseason.

    2019-20 College Football Futures Summary Analysis

    What does this mean for the 2019-20 National Championship? Which teams are investment-grade contenders?
    The following table summarizes our conclusions using the statistical trends identified above.

    College Football Futures Analysis: Preseason Top 5 - 1998-Present
    Team 2019-20
    Preseason Rank
    Win Pct
    Historical Team
    Rank or higher
    Win Pct
    #1 Clemson 1 14.29% 2-1 66.67% 14.29%
    #2 Alabama 2 33.33% 5-6 45.45% 47.62%
    #3 Georgia 3 4.76% 0-3 0.00% 52.38%
    #4 Oklahoma 4 0% 0-1 0.00% 52.38%
    #5 Ohio State 5 14.29% 1-9 10.00% 66.67%

    Our basic analysis leads to at least one important conclusion: don’t exclude Alabama! Here are some possible college football national championship future bets for the 2019-2020 season:

    1. Clemson, Alabama, Georgia & Ohio State – Drop unlucky #4 Oklahoma. The Sooners have only been ranked top 5 once and have never won the National Championship when ranked top 5 in the preseason between 1998-2019.

    2. Clemson, Alabama & Ohio State – Drop Georgia and Oklahoma. See above #1 why Oklahoma isn’t worth a bet. Georgia hasn’t won a championship despite 3 preseason top 5 appearances between 1998-2019. Also, only 4.76% of teams ranked #3 have won a title.

    3. Clemson & Alabama – 47.62% of teams ranked 2 or higher have won the National Championship between 1998-2019. Clemson and Alabama have the best historical records of top 5 teams. Buyer beware: odds are less than a coin flip.

    Is this bet worth it?

    Is the expected value of these bets positive? Not based on historical trends.

    A 4-teamer with a 65% probability is still risky (#1). Remember, you must divide your wager among 4 teams such that you make a profit if any of them wins. Try playing with this arbitrage calculator. You’ll get a rough idea about how much to bet on each team.

    Don’t use arbitrage unless you cover all possibilities

    Caution: Arbitrage assumes a fixed number of possibilities. In this case, there are more than 4 teams that could win. These 4 are only the most probable. There’s a 35% chance any other team wins. That means you would lose your entire investment.

    If one of the 4 wins, you’ll make a small percentage gain. But if none win you’ll lose 100% of your investment. Futures bets are generally risky unless you can find arbitrage opportunities among small sets of teams, like NFL division futures. Read more here.

    Tables and Reference

    College Football Playoff Results 2014-Present

    College Football Playoff Results 2014-Present
    2020#1 Alabama
    SEC Champions
    #3 Ohio State
    Big 10 Champions
    52-24Hard Rock Stadium
    Miami Gardens, Florida
    January 11, 2021
    2019#1 LSU
    SEC Champions
    #3 Clemson
    ACC Champions
    42-25Mercedes-Benz Superdome
    New Orleans, Louisiana
    January 13, 2020
    2018#2 Clemson
    ACC Champions
    #1 Alabama
    SEC Champions
    44-16Levi's Stadium
    Santa Clara, California
    January 7, 2019
    2017#4 Alabama
    SEC West Co-Champions
    #3 Georgia
    SEC Champions
    26-23 OTMercedes-Benz Stadium
    Atlanta, Georgia
    January 8, 2018
    2016#2 Clemson
    ACC Champions
    #1 Alabama
    SEC Champions
    35-31Raymond James Stadium
    Tampa, Florida
    January 9, 2017
    2015#2 Alabama
    SEC Champions
    #1 Clemson
    ACC Champions
    45-40University of Phoenix Stadium
    Glendale, Arizona
    January 11, 2016
    2014#4 Ohio State
    Big Ten Champions
    #2 Oregon
    Pac-12 Champions
    42-20AT&T Stadium
    Arlington, Texas
    January 12, 2015

    BCS National Championship Results

    BCS National Championship Results
    2013#1 Florida State
    ACC Champs
    #2 Auburn
    SEC Champs
    34-31Rose Bowl
    Pasadena, California
    January 6, 2014
    2012#2 Alabama
    SEC Champs
    #1 Notre Dame
    42-14Sun Life Stadium
    Miami Gardens, Florida
    January 7, 2013
    2011#2 Alabama
    #1 LSU
    SEC Champs
    21-0Mercedes-Benz Superdome
    New Orleans, Louisiana
    January 9, 2012
    2010#1 Auburn
    SEC Champs
    #2 Oregon
    Pac-10 Champs
    22-19University of Phoenix Stadium
    Glendale, Arizona
    January 10, 2011
    2009#1 Alabama
    SEC Champs
    #2 Texas
    Big 12 Champs
    37-21Rose Bowl
    Pasadena, California
    January 7, 2010
    2008#2 Florida
    SEC Champs
    #1 Oklahoma
    Big 12 Champs
    24-14Dolphin Stadium
    Miami Gardens, Florida
    January 8, 2009
    2007#2 LSU
    SEC Champs
    #1 Ohio State
    Big Ten Champs
    38-24Louisiana Superdome
    New Orleans
    January 7, 2008
    2006#2 Florida
    SEC Champs
    #1 Ohio State
    Big Ten Champs
    41-14University of Phoenix Stadium
    Glendale, Arizona
    January 8, 2007
    2005#2 Texas
    Big 12 Champs
    #1 USC
    Pac-10 Champs
    41-38Rose Bowl Stadium
    Pasadena, California
    January 4, 2006
    2004#1 USC
    Pac-10 Champs
    #2 Oklahoma
    Big 12 Champs
    55-19Pro Player Stadium
    Miami Gardens, Florida
    January 4, 2005
    2003#2 LSU
    SEC Champs
    #1 Oklahoma
    21-14Louisiana Superdome
    New Orleans
    January 4, 2004
    2002#2 Ohio State
    Big Ten Co-Champs
    #1 Miami (FL)
    Big East Champs
    31-24Sun Devil Stadium
    Tempe, Arizona
    January 3, 2003
    2001#1 Miami (FL)
    Big East Champs
    #2 Nebraska
    37-14Rose Bowl
    Pasadena, California
    January 3, 2002
    2000#1 Oklahoma
    Big 12 Champs
    #2 Florida State
    ACC Champs
    13-2Pro Player Stadium
    January 3, 2001
    1999#1 Florida State
    ACC Champs
    #2 Virginia Tech
    Big East Champs
    46-29Louisiana Superdome
    New Orleans
    January 4, 2000
    1998#1 Tennessee
    SEC Champs
    #2 Florida State
    ACC Co-Champs
    23-16Sun Devil Stadium
    Tempe, Arizona
    January 4, 1999

    BCS Team Records

    BCS Team Records
    Most Points55, USC
    vs. Oklahoma
    Fewest points allowed0
    Alabama vs. LSU
    Most Points Combined79
    Texas vs. USC
    First downs30
    Texas vs. USC
    Rushing yards289, Texas
    (36 att.) vs. USC
    Passing yards374
    Oregon vs. Auburn
    Total yards556, Texas
    (289 rush, 267 pass) vs. USC
    Total plays85
    Auburn vs. Oregon
    Largest comeback18
    Florida State vs. Auburn

    BCS Individual Records

    BCS Individual Records
    Total offense467, Vince Young (QB)
    Texas (267 pass, 200 rush) vs. USC
    Rushing yards200, Vince Young (QB)
    Texas (19 att.) vs. USC
    Rushing TDs3, Vince Young (QB)
    Texas vs. USC
    Passing yards363, Darron Thomas
    Oregon vs. Auburn (28-41-2, 2 TD)
    Passing TDs5, Matt Leinart
    USC vs. Oklahoma
    Receptions11, Kellen Winslow Jr.
    Miami vs. Ohio State (122 yards, 1 TD)
    Receiving yards (tie)199, Peerless Price
    Tennessee vs. Florida State (4 rec., 1 TD)
    Receiving yards (tie)199, Andre Johnson
    Miami vs. Nebraska (7 rec., 2 TD)
    Receiving TDs3, Steve Smith
    USC vs. Oklahoma
    Field goals5, Jeremy Shelley
    Alabama vs. LSU
    Tackles18, James Laurinaitis
    Ohio State vs. LSU
    Sacks3, Derrick Harvey
    Florida vs. Ohio State
    Interceptions2, Sean Taylor
    Miami vs. Ohio State

    BCS & College Football Playoffs Average Stats

    BCS & College Football Playoffs Average Stats
    Average Winner's Preseaon Ranking6.238
    Average Finalist's Preseason Ranking13.048

    Lowest Ranked Preseason Team to Win – 1998 to 2019

    Note: This table will update before the 2021-2022 season.

    Lowest Ranked Pre-Season Team to Win

    Teams ranked 11 or Worse to Win – 1998 to 2019

    Note: This table will update before the 2021-2022 season.

    Teams ranked 11 or worse to win
    #13Ohio State2002
    #11Florida State2013

    References (2001-2017 Inclusive)