College Football Point Spreads Guide
The NCAA college football season is a great time for bettors. With hundreds of games every season, every weekend brings in new chances to score valuable wins. Point spreads are among the most popular college football betting markets. Point spreads for college football also add some value to one-sided games, offering a chance to win by betting on the losing team covering the spread.
But if you are new to either betting or college football, some of those terms might sound a bit confusing. What is a point spread? How do point spreads for college football work? We will help you out by offering an explanation to these terms and how to make the best out of your NCAAF point spreads bets.
Point Spreads Basics
First of all, we have to go through the basics of point spreads and how they work. If you are already familiar with sports betting, then you’ve probably heard about point spreads. But even if you’re just getting started, there is nothing to worry about: understanding how point spreads work is really easy.
In a point spread bet, both teams are awarded a handicap, which is negative for the favorite and positive for the underdog team. While the winning team will always win in a moneyline bet, that’s not necessarily the case for point spreads. In order to win the bet, the favorite must cover the spread by securing a winning margin bigger than its negative handicap. The underdog, on the other hand, can win the bet even if it loses the game, as long as the losing margin is smaller than its handicap. If the underdog wins the game by any score, then it will also cover the spread and win the bet. As you can see, it’s possible to win a point spread bet even if you bet on the losing team.
College Football Point Spreads Explained
But how do point spreads for college football work? Let’s assume that Team A is considered a 10.5 point favorite entering the match against Team B. In that case, Team A would need to win the game by at least 11 points to cover the spread and consequently win the bet. On the other hand, if Team A were to win by 10 or less points, it wouldn’t cover the spread. In this scenario, Team A would still lose the bet, even after winning the game. Team B covers the spread if it loses by 10 points or less, or wins the game.
While NCAAF point spreads may look difficult to understand at first, they are actually quite simple once you get the hang of it. Point spreads for college football can be quite profitable as well. Since plenty of games, both in and out of conference, can be heavily one-sided, you will probably find more than a few opportunities to wager on the underdog covering the spread.
Point spreads have key numbers to keep an eye on. Simply put, key numbers are the most common winning margins. Since there is a significant gap between the top and the mid to bottom programs in NCAAF, winning margins are all over the place. The key numbers for college football are, in order: 3, 7, 10, 14, 21, 4, 1 and 17. When placing your point spread bet, it makes more sense to pick a -2.5 line than a -3 or -3.5 line.
College Football Point Spreads Tips
- Garbage time can be a factor in college football point spread bets. As mentioned earlier, there is a significant gap between the top teams and the rest of the field, even within the conferences. As a result, plenty of games over the course of the season get out of reach for the losing team by the end of the first half. When that happens, it’s common for the winning side to rest its starters and also provide their younger players with valuable experience in an actual match. Points scored during garbage time can be the difference between winning and losing your spread bet. Remember to take that into consideration, especially for lines in the double-digits.
- There are point systems available for college football. These systems rank teams based on different stats, using a relatively simple rating to help you predict the spread. One of the most famous points systems available for college football point spreads is the Sagarin system. Created by Jeff Sagarin, the system was used for a long time by the BCS committee to determine the two National Championship Game participants.
- Always keep an eye on the injury reports before the matches, especially for key conference games. An injury to a key player on attack or defense can shift the matchup onto its head. At the same time, it’s also possible for bookmakers to overvalue an injury, leading to inflated lines you can also use to your advantage.
College Football Point Spreads Examples
- For Week 8 of the 2022 college football season, the #1 ranked Georgia opened as a 22.5 favorite against Florida. It means that the Bulldogs needed to win by at least 23 points in order to cover the spread. The Gators, meanwhile, needed to cover the spread with a losing margin below 23 points, or by winning the game.
- The AAC classic between UCF and Cincinnati had close opening lines. The Knights were -0.5 favorites, which means that any winning margin would cover the spread. For the Bearcats, even a 1 point loss wouldn’t be enough to cover the spread. Some bookmakers had UCF as a -1 favorite, and Cincinnati as a +1 underdog. If the score ended up with a 1 point difference, the spread bet would have ended in a push, and the sportsbook would have returned the wagered money.
- Let’s use the Sagarin system for the SEC game. Georgia has a 95.84 Recent rating, which weighs recent games more heavily compared to earlier games. Florida has a 76.03 rating. Since the Gators play at home, that adds +1.86 to their rating. That gives us a 17.95 margin for the game, giving Florida a higher chance of covering the +22.5 spread compared to Georgia’s -22.5.
Pros versus Cons of College Football Point Spreads
- With so many one-sided games over the course of the season, some moneyline bets in college football offer little to no value. Point spread bets, on the other hand, allow you to win by betting on the underdog. In these situations, point spreads can be a very good alternative.
- Point spread bets also add some extra incentive for you to follow these games. While a cupcake match between the #1 FBS team and an FCS team doesn’t look particularly exciting, a point spread bet will definitely make things a lot more interesting.
- College football games have very wide winning margins, which can make them a bit tricky to get right. The lines can be all over the place, especially if we are talking about double-digit favorites.
- Garbage time scores and last second touchdowns might not mean much for the teams, but can completely ruin a point spread bet. This is something you always need to take into consideration when placing a college football point spread bet.
NCAAF point spreads are one of the top betting markets for college football. Since not all matches have worthy moneyline odds, point spreads offer a very interesting alternative. With more than a few one-sided, double-digit games in the college football season, bettors should always look at the spreads available for these matches. Just keep in mind that betting lines in college football can fluctuate wildly depending on the matchup, and double-digit spreads are very common. These can be tricky to predict correctly, but also offer a better payout compared to moneyline bets.