Your Week 1 Introduction To College Football Odds

week 1 ncaa betting guide

For many bettors new to the pastime, college football season is the first opportunity to experience the thrill of wagering and winning money on their favorite teams and players.

To that end, many sites are offering in-depth odds analysis leading into the action-packed Labor Day weekend.

However, if it’s your first time betting on NCAA action, the odds boards – with all their thousands of lines and selections to choose from – might seem a bit intimidating.

Fortunately, they don’t have to be, as understanding the main betting types are easy. As long as you can wrap your head around the point spread, the moneyline bet, and the over/under, you’ll have little trouble with most of the betting playbook.

The Point Spread Bet

The point spread allows oddsmakers to handicap better teams, prompting even action on both sides of a bet. The favorite will have a negative point spread number, and the underdog will have a positive one.

For example, if a team is -12 on the spread, that team must win by 13 or more points to win the bet. Conversely, the underdog can lose by up to 11 points and still win the wager.

The Moneyline Bet

The moneyline bet, or straight bet, simply asks you to pick a winner. Favorites have negative moneylines, and the stronger they are, the bigger that number will be. Underdogs have positive moneylines, and the weaker they are, the bigger that number will be.

A negative moneyline number shows how much money you must risk to win $100, while a positive number shows how much you stand to win on a $100 bet. (You can wager as little as $0.50 to $1.00 at most sportsbooks, so these numbers are ratios, not betting minimums.)

The Over/Under Bet

The over/under bet does away with predicting winners and losers altogether. Instead, your college football sportsbook will assign a combined point total for both teams, and you simply choose whether the teams will score “over” that many points or “under” that many points.

The current AP Top 25 betting odds are live at all the best 18+ online sports betting sites, so give them a look to get your initial bearings. The following lines are courtesy of Bovada.

2019 Week 1 NCAA Betting Odds

Florida Atlantic at Ohio State (5)

  • Point Spread: Ohio State -28.5
  • Moneyline: –
  • Over/Under: 65

Northern Iowa at Iowa State (21)

  • N/A

South Alabama at Nebraska (24)

  • Point Spread: Nebraska -36
  • Moneyline: –
  • Over/Under: 66

Eastern Washington at Washington (13)

  • N/A

Duke at Alabama (2)

  • Point Spread: Alabama -33.5
  • Moneyline: –
  • Over/Under: 57

Idaho at Penn State (15)

  • N/A

Northwestern at Stanford (25)

  • Point Spread: Stanford -6
  • Moneyline: Northwestern +190, Stanford -230
  • Over/Under: 48

Syracuse (22) at Liberty

  • Point Spread: Syracuse -19
  • Moneyline: Syracuse -1100, Liberty +650
  • Over/Under: 68

Georgia (3) at Vanderbilt

  • Point Spread: Georgia -23
  • Moneyline: –
  • Over/Under: 58

Georgia Southern at LSU (6)

  • Point Spread: LSU -27.5
  • Moneyline: –
  • Over/Under: 52

Middle Tennessee at Michigan (7)

  • Point Spread: Michigan -35
  • Moneyline: –
  • Over/Under: 54

Oregon (11) at Auburn (16)

  • Point Spread: Auburn -3.5
  • Moneyline: Oregon +150, Auburn -170
  • Over/Under: 55

Miami Ohio at Iowa (20)

  • Point Spread: Iowa -22.5
  • Moneyline: –
  • Over/Under: 47

Louisiana Tech at Texas (10)

  • Point Spread: Texas -20.5
  • Moneyline: –
  • Over/Under: 55

New Mexico State at Washington State (23)

  • Point Spread: Washington State -32
  • Moneyline: –
  • Over/Under: 64

Houston at Oklahoma (4)

  • Point Spread: Oklahoma -23
  • Moneyline: –
  • Over/Under: 80

Notre Dame (9) at Louisville

  • Point Spread: Notre Dame -18.5
  • Moneyline: –
  • Over/Under: 55

If you’re new to NCAA football betting, looking at the above odds might still raise some questions, even when you understand what all the numbers actually mean.

First, a caveat: If you’re wagering at a local in-state sportsbook, you may not see any props or in-game betting options on college games, as various states’ sports betting laws have outlawed those aspects of the activity. Fortunately, offshore sportsbooks don’t have to follow such local restrictions.

That said, even if you’re using a reputable online sports betting site, you’ll notice that your team may not be listed or that the odds lines are incomplete.

Don’t worry!

This is actually a longstanding quirk of college football betting, and it’s going to happen no matter where you wager.

In simple terms, during every week of the NCAA season, there will be matchups – even in games that feature AP Top 25 teams – where certain lines just aren’t available.

Sometimes, a game will be completely omitted from the odds boards. In this case, there could be several factors at play. One of the teams might be experiencing some uncertainty re personnel (i.e. injuries or disciplinary issues), there may be a weather or travel issue, or there simply may not be enough betting interest to justify a sportsbook’s carrying undue liability.

The other thing you’ll notice in college football betting is that you’ll often get spread bets and over/under bets but no straight moneyline bets to choose from.

In leagues with reasonable parity like the NFL, all games will carry straight moneyline odds. But college football matchups are often extremely lopsided affairs, and there is simply no way for sportsbooks to price attractive moneylines for such games.

Take this weekend’s Alabama matchup, for example.

The Crimson Tide are projected to have the nation’s top-rated defense for the 2019 season, as well as the second-ranked overall offense (after the Oklahoma Sooners). Yet this absolute SEC monster is playing Duke, the bedeviled Blue Devils of the middling ACC.

The spread, as you can see above, favors Alabama by 33.5 points, and the over/under is set at 57. There is no straight moneyline available, however, as it’s a cosmic certainty that the Tide is going to absolutely roll.

No sportsbook is going to bother setting a -100000 line on Alabama with a $2000 betting limit, and no bettor is going to bother plunking down $2000 to win $2.

As you can see in the odds going into Week 1, this is the situation for several teams.

That said, you will almost always find straight moneylines on games that are more evenly matched, as with the highly-anticipated Oregon-Auburn tilt on Saturday evening.

Hopefully, this superficial primer helps give you some insight about the numbers you see – and don’t see – at NCAA sportsbooks. Just don’t expect to be an expert overnight. There’s certainly a lot more involved in betting that just the basics, and this is just the tippy-top of the iceberg.

Still, it should be enough to get you started off on the right cleat.