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How to Bet on NCAA Football

College football odds at a Las Vegas sportsbook.

College football odds at a Las Vegas sportsbook.

Betting on college football is done in the same manner as betting on the NFL. Because the talent disparity between teams is much greater in college football than it is for the NFL, you will see higher point spreads in college football than you will for the NFL. In the NFL it’s rare to see a team favored by more than 17 points, as between 2010 and 2014 there were just four games in which a team was favored by at least 17 points. If you look at the odds listed above, you see two college teams favored by at least 28 points.

The numbers 149 and 150 listed before Western Michigan and Michigan State are known as rotation numbers and will be universal throughout different sportsbooks. If you go to a Las Vegas sportsbook and wish to wager on the game, you will use the rotation number and not the team name, so that the sportsbook clerk does not have to waste time looking for the team. You would simply say, “$110 on number 149” and the sportsbook clerk knows you want to bet on Western Michigan. If you say “$110 on number 150” the sportsbook clerk knows you want to bet on Michigan State.

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Rotation numbers are also used at online sportsbooks. If you accounts with Bovada and Sportsbook, you can quickly check the odds at both sportsbooks by scrolling down until you find the rotation numbers 149 and 150, which will be the Western Michigan vs. Michigan State game.

The -28 written after Michigan State means they are favored by 28 points. To simplify, this means that you will subtract 28 points from Michigan State’s final score for betting purposes. If you bet Michigan State, the Spartans must win by 29 or more points for you to win your bet. If they win by 27 or less, or lose the game, you will lose your bet. If you bet Western Michigan, you will receive 28 points, so you win your bet if they lose by 27 or fewer points or win the game. If Michigan State wins by exactly 28, it is a tie or “push” and the bet is declared no action.

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The number 45 next to Western Michigan is the total, or over/under on the game. This bet is decided by the total number of points scored by both teams combined. If Michigan State wins 42-7 there are 49 combined points and those who wagered over 45 points would win their bet. Those who wagered under 45 would lose. If Michigan State won 42-0 there are just 42 combined points, so those who bet under 45 would win their wagers. If the Spartans won 42-3 there are exactly 45 points scored and it is a tie or a push and no money changes hands.

The other type of college football bet is the moneyline, which is signified as the -210 written after Texas Tech and the +180 written after SMU. With a moneyline bet, there is no point spread involved and you simply pick the winner of the game. The moneyline odds on Texas Tech are -210, which means you will be asked to risk $210 to win $100 on Texas Tech. The odds on SMU are +180, meaning you will be required to risk $100 to win $180 on SMU. It’s important to note that you do not have to bet this much, as you could wager $21 to win $10 on Texas Tech, but moneyline odds are given in $100 increments for simplicity.

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You probably noticed that there was no moneyline given for the Western Michigan vs. Michigan State game and this is due to the high point spread. Many sportsbooks do not have moneylines on games where the point spread is higher than 20, as the odds of the underdog winning the game are miniscule and very few bettors would risk taking the underdog.