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Many things come to mind when thinking about the month of December; the cold winter weather, the sound of Christmas music and, of course, the excitement of college football’s bowl season! In the NCAA football, teams grind their way through a rigorous training camp and intense regular season, all for the chance to earn a spot in one of these prestigious bowl games. In total, there are 35 bowl games scheduled for the NCAA’s 2020-21 college football season. This year’s bowl season kicks off December 19 with the Tropical Smoothie Café Frisco Bowl in Frisco, Texas, and will conclude on January 11 with the College Football Playoff National Championship game in Miami, Florida. 

This has been an interesting year for college football, as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a myriad of complications for the NCAA. These concerns nearly led to the cancellation of the entire season, but eventually most conferences agreed to take the field. With that being said, this unique set of circumstances has led to a number of changes to this year’s bowl season. There have been nine bowl games already cancelled this season, including the Holiday Bowl, Las Vegas Bowl, Celebration Bowl to name a few. Additionally, this will be the first season in NCAA history in which schools will not be required to post a record above .500 in order to be eligible for a bowl game. 

If you enjoy college football betting, now is the time to get ready for the NCAA’s bowl season. With so many games to choose from, it’s important to understand how bowl games work. You should also have a clear understanding of the various odds and betting options available to you during bowl season. With the right preparation, college football bowl games can be a lot of fun and provide you with a great opportunity to win some real money!

How College Football Bowl Games Work

Before we get into the different bet types, it’s important to first have a clear understanding of how bowl games work. With over 100 schools taking part in the NCAA’s Division I college football season, not every program gets to take part in a bowl game. Teams are required to earn their place in a bowl game based on their play throughout the year.  

There has been a new championship system in place since 2014, where the College Football Playoffs rely on a selection committee that ranks teams over the course of the season. In late December or early January, the top four schools are selected to play in two semifinal games, with the winners advancing a week later to the national championship game. 

Once the College Football Playoffs selection committee has chosen their top four teams, all of the other dominoes begin to fall. They are announced sporadically throughout the Sunday following the year’s conference championship weekend. The complete schedule for the year’s bowl season is usually finalized by the end of that day, and then shared with football fans across the country. Some of these games may be leaked a bit earlier, but that is usually when it involves independent programs.

How to Bet on College Bowl Game Point Spreads

With so many games to choose from, betting college football point spreads during bowl game season is some of the most fun you’ll have all year. Point spread betting is very popular as it evens the odds between any two teams by assigning a point total related to their difference in ability.

When looking at the point spread, remember that the minus sign (-) indicates the favorite, while a plus sign (+) indicates the underdog. All of this is factored into whether your bet is won or lost, thus levelling the playing field between any two teams and making every matchup an appealing betting option. 

Let’s use Florida at Tennessee as an example of how point spreads work in college football:

  • The odds makers have made the Florida Gators -17.5 in this matchup, which means they’re favored to win the game by 17.5 points. To win a point spread bet on Florida, the Gators would need to win the game 18 points or more.
  • The Tennessee Volunteers have been assigned a point spread of +17.5, making them the underdog in this matchup. To win a point spread bet on Tennessee, you would need the Volunteers to win the game outright or lose by no more than 17 points.  
  • A push is also possible when betting point spreads in college football, but only if the amount is a whole number. If the favorite defeats the underdog by the same amount as the point spread, it would be considered a push.

How to Bet on College Bowl Game Moneylines

If you’re looking to avoid the point spread when betting on college football bowl games, a moneyline wager is a great option. A moneyline bet is one of the simplest way to wager on college football; you simply need to pick one team to win the game and if you chose the winning side, you win. There is no point spread in moneyline wagers, so your interests are perfectly aligned with your team. It’s just that easy!

While betting on the moneyline is straightforward, understanding the payout can be a bit trickier. Both sides are assigned odds for winning the game. These odds indicate how the bet will be paid out if that team wins. The team that is favored will have their odds listed with a minus (-) sign, while the underdog team will have their odds listed with a plus (+) sign. 

Let’s use Michigan at Ohio State as an example of how moneyline payouts work in college football:

  • As a huge underdog in this matchup, the Wolverines are at +1500 moneyline. At those odds, a $100 wager would pay $1500 in profit if Michigan wins the game. Betting the underdog is a popular strategy since the wagers pay out better odds compared to betting the favorite.
  • On the other side of this example, Ohio State’s moneyline odds for this matchup are -3500. With the Buckeyes as massive favorites, you would need to wager $3,500 just to win $100 profit. A winning wager on the favorite will pays out less than the bet amount, since you have such a strong chance of winning. 

How to Bet on College Bowl Game Totals

Totals are another popular betting option in college football. A totals bet is a wager on whether the combined point total for both sides will be over or under the total number set by odds makers before the game. It doesn’t matter which team gets the victory; if you’re betting totals during bowl season, all you care about is the combined score of both teams at the end of the game. Also known as over/unders, totals are a great way to get in on the college football action.

Here’s an example of how totals betting works in college football:

  • Let’s pretend odds makers have set the total for a bowl game at 57. This means they’re anticipating this to be the combined final score between both teams. 
  • If you’re betting on the over and the final score combines for more than 57 points, you win. 
  • If you’re betting the under and the final score combines for under 57, you win. 
  • And of course, if the final score combines for exactly 57 points, your wager is considered a push. 

How to Bet on College Football Playoff Futures 

With the potential for a massive payout, futures betting is very popular in college football. Futures betting can require a certain level of patience, as the outcome of your wager will usually be determined sometime in the future (hence the name). The way futures betting works is that odds makers will set odds on a specific outcome; the less likely the outcome, the bigger the payout! As we approach the NCAA’s bowl season, the odds to win the National Championship garner a lot of attention from the betting community.

Here’s an example of how futures betting works in college football:

Odds to win the 2020-2021 NCAA National Championship

  • Alabama +105
  • Clemson +275
  • Ohio State +500
  • Notre Dame +700
  • Alabama is considered the most likely to win the NCAA National Championship at +105. This means that a $100 wager would win $105 in profit. 
  • If you plan on betting Notre Dame in this example, the +700 odds would return a profit of $700 should they win.

Now that all of these different betting options are clear, it’s time to enjoy college football’s bowl season! It usually pays to dedicate some time to research before the bowl season gets started, so be sure to learn about your favorite picks and study their recent betting trends if you’re looking for an extra edge before putting your money down. Study all the point spreads, moneylines, game totals and futures, pick your favorite schools and settle in for some wild bowl game action at Bovada!