Football’s premier competition is undoubtedly the NFL. Games in the National Football League attract huge audiences, and not just in America. Interest in the NFL goes well beyond the borders of the United States. There are fans all over the world, and the popularity of the league is showing no signs of dwindling.
Naturally, then, most people choose the NFL when betting on football. It’s the obvious choice to make. Virtually all bookmakers and gambling sites offer a wide range of betting markets on the NFL, and there’s a wealth of accessible information on the league. It’s easy to find what you need when you’re doing research and analysis for your upcoming wagers. And, of course, the media coverage is extensive too.
Bettors who solely focus on the NFL are missing out on some great opportunities though. It’s just as easy to bet on college football (CFB) these days, and there are several valid reasons for doing so: one of the simplest being that it gives you more options to consider. You’re not necessarily going to find good opportunities in the NFL betting markets each and every week, which is why having college football to fall back on is very beneficial.
You don’t want to rush straight in to betting on college football though, especially not if you’re something of a beginner to betting on football in general. The NFL is probably the more straightforward option for beginners.
With that being said, we certainly don’t want to talk you out of betting on college football. It has some advantages that shouldn’t be ignored, even as a beginner. It’s just important to learn more about what’s involved before jumping in, and that’s precisely what this section is for. We’ve compiled a collection of useful strategy articles for betting on CFB, and provided some basic tips too. We’ve also explored the differences between college football and the NFL. Please keep reading to see everything we have to offer.
There are many similarities between CFB and the NFL. It’s the same sport after all, and played in fundamentally the same way. There are a few key differences though, which it pays to be aware of. We’ve listed these below. Each one of these has some effect on the way you need to approach your betting.
Number of teams
Range of quality
Frequency of mistakes
Volume of betting activity
Let’s explore each one of these differences in detail, and see just how much of an impact they have.
Number of teams
Do you know how many NFL teams there are? There’s a good chance you do, as this is pretty common knowledge. But do you know how many college football teams there are? This is not so widely known, so don’t worry if you don’t.
As you can see, there’s a quite a difference between these two numbers. This is significant for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it means that CFB offers far more betting opportunities. With so many more teams, there are obviously more games to bet on. This is theoretically a good thing, as it increases the chances of finding good spots to bet. However, it’s not practical to think that you can study every single upcoming CFB game throughout an entire season. There are actually TOO many of them in some respects.
The second reason why these numbers are significant is because of the additional research and analysis required when betting on college football. It’s not a huge challenge to have some idea of how good each of the 32 NFL teams are. But assessing the quality of 128 different teams is a major task.
Of course, you don’t HAVE to get familiar with each team. You probably won’t be betting on each and every one of them. But you’ll certainly want to study quite a lot of them if you want to find the best betting opportunities.
Range of quality
This is an important point from a betting perspective, and especially in terms of picking which games to bet on. Please note that we’re not talking about the differences in quality between CFB and the NFL in general. Obviously the professionals play to a higher standard. What we’re talking about is the range of quality within CFB compared to the range of quality within the NFL.
Total mismatches are extremely rare in the NFL. They’re not uncommon in college football.
The gap in quality between the best and the worst NFL teams can be significant. But, even so, it’s not all that often that a team has absolutely no chance of beating their opponents. The so-called poorer teams can, and do, cause upsets from time to time. And they regularly keep games close, even when facing superior opposition. You won’t typically see teams completely run away with games in the NFL.
It’s very different in college football though. The powerhouse teams are often FAR superior to some of the opposition they face. So much so that a blowout can be all but guaranteed. Winning margins of 30 points or more are commonplace throughout the season. The talent gap is simply that much bigger than in the NFL.
Frequency of mistakes
Football is NEVER predictable. The unexpected happens all the time, in both CFB and the NFL. But it happens more often in college football, for one simple reason. Understandably, the college players are far more prone to making mistakes than their professional counterparts. These mistakes can prove costly for college teams, and also for those who are betting on them.
You don’t need to think too much about the likelihood of major mistakes when betting on NFL games. There will be occasions when you figure a team is more likely to make a mistake than their opponents, but even then this is not going to dramatically affect your betting decisions.
When betting on college games, though, the potential effects of mistakes are that much greater. As such, they’re something that you need to give more thought to.
The NFL as a whole receives extensive media coverage. Each individual team also receives plenty of coverage, and so does each game. College football is heavily covered too, but not to the same extent. This is relevant for a couple reasons. First, it means that it’s generally easier to do the necessary research when betting on NFL. There’s simply more information that’s readily available.
Second, it means that some CFB games can go completely under the radar. There are often games that virtually nobody in the media is talking about, as they’re not deemed particularly exciting or relevant. This simply doesn’t happen in the NFL.
There’s no such thing as an obscure game in the NFL. There IS in college football.
So does this mean much from a betting perspective? Does it really matter whether a game is high profile or not? Surprisingly the correct answer here is yet. There are pros and cons to either side. Perhaps the most notable is the fact that the bookmakers often don’t pay much attention to obscure games. This can result in fairly soft lines with value that’s easy to spot. This doesn’t really happen in NFL games, where the lines are virtually always very tight.
Volume of betting activity
This is linked to the last point we just made. The NFL attracts a lot more betting interest than college football. As such, the bookmakers and betting sites typically focus most of their attention on the NFL. They have their best people setting the odds and lines, making them hard to beat. They obviously don’t neglect college football completely, but their CFB lines are perhaps a little easier to beat in general.
The flip side to this is that the NFL lines are more likely to move based on the weight of public money. These moves regularly create opportunities where there’s value to be had by opposing the public. Such opportunities are not common in CFB.
Before we move on, we should mention that we’ve only really scratched the surface when it comes to the differences between CFB and the NFL and how those differences affect things from a betting point of view. This is quite deliberate, because it’s something we cover in far more detail in the following article.
Essential Tips for College Football Betting
There’s a lot you need to learn if you want a real shot of making some money from betting on college football. The articles we linked to earlier will help you enormously; if nothing else, they’ll give you something to think about. Keep in mind, though, that there’s no need to try to learn everything before getting started. At some point you just need to put some money down and start gaining some experience. Because you’ll ultimately learn a lot more from your own experiences than we can ever teach you via the internet. We give you the tools, but it’s up to you to use them effectively.
The best approach when you do get started is to first concentrate on some small things that can make a big difference. We’ve put together a few tips that will help you a lot, and that are also very simple. If you follow these then you’ll start out on the right track.
Follow the smaller conferences
College football is played across several conferences. The standard of these conferences can vary significantly, and so can the attention they get. As you’d expect, it’s the bigger conferences with the better teams that tend to get talked about the most.
Bettors often gravitate towards the higher profile conferences such as the ones shown above. This is completely understandable. These are what most of the public follow, and they generally get more media coverage. But do you remember what we said earlier about high profile games and obscure games? The same principle applies here. The lines are regularly a little softer in the smaller conferences, so there’s a strong argument for focusing on these.
If you can become a genuine expert in one or two of the less popular conferences, you should have no problem regularly finding good betting opportunities. You might have to dig a little deeper when doing your research, but it’ll be worth the effort in the long run.
Make your bets early
Whenever you spot a line that you like, don’t wait to get your money down. Make your wager as soon as you’ve identified a good opportunity. This is especially important when betting on a favorite.
The reason we suggest this approach is because CFB betting lines are generally a little more volatile than NFL betting lines. This is due to the lower overall volume of betting activity. Odds and lines are more prone to sudden movements when there isn’t a lot of balanced action coming in. Just a few people betting large stakes on a game that’s not seeing much action can easily cause the spread to move by a point or two.
These movement can do one of two things: hurt you or help you. It depends on their direction. As a general rule, though, we think it’s best to take the value when you see it. You can always go in again if the line moves in your favor, and put more money down. But you can’t go back in time and revisit a missed opportunity.
Be wary of road favorites
Over the years there has been much debate over the importance of home field advantage in the NFL. There’s no doubt that it IS an advantage for a team to be playing at home, in most cases at least. But the extent of that advantage has long been argued about. Some think it’s very significant, while others think that it’s barely relevant. We have our own views that are somewhere in between these two extremes. When it comes to CFB though, there’s not really a debate to be had.
Home field advantage REALLY matters in college football.
It’s really important that you remember this when choosing your bets. In particular, be very wary of backing road favorites. In our experience they rarely offer the right level of value. There’s simply too much likelihood that the home team will put in a strong performance on their own field.
Now, we’re not saying avoid road favorites at all costs. Some people do advise exactly that, but it’s not that clear cut for us. Just be cautious is all we’re saying, and always bear in mind the value of home field advantage.
Be careful with statistics
We’ve written an incredibly detailed article on the use of statistics when betting on football. We firmly believe that stats can be a powerful tool for a football bettor. They’re invaluable if used correctly, and can tell us a lot about all kinds of different things.
You need to be careful when using college football stats though. They can easily be skewed by a few games against particularly strong, or particularly weak, opponents. This is technically true in the NFL too, but not to anywhere near the same extent. Remember what we said earlier about the range of quality? A few complete mismatches for a college team and their stats can paint an entirely inaccurate picture.
We still recommend the use of stats for betting on CFB. It’s just very important that you view them in context, and always take into account previous opposition.
Use Online Betting Sites
Our final tip here is the simplest of them all. It’s probably the easiest one to follow too. Don’t underestimate its importance though. There are several significant advantages to using online betting sites for placing your college football wagers, and no major disadvantages. It’s fast, safe and convenient. Plus you typically get better odds and lines, with the added benefit of bonuses and rewards.
The only difficulty you’re likely to encounter when following this tip is in deciding which sites to use. And, as always, we’ve got you covered there anyway. We’ve ranked the best football betting sites for you on the following page.
Everything we’ve covered so far relates specifically to betting on college football. That’s kind of the point of this section. The information and advice contained here is directly targeted at those who either bet on college football already or are looking to start. However, we also want to mention some other useful articles from around our website.
The following articles all feature additional advice that we think you’ll benefit from, especially if you’re relatively new to betting. There may not be much of interest here if you’re already an experienced bettor, but even then it might not hurt to take a look. Some of the advice applies to betting on any sport, while some of it applies to football in general (including the NFL).