5 Steps to NCAA Football Gambling Success

NCAAF Player Running the Ball With a Sportsbook Screen Background

If you like to bet on football games, the NCAA offers far more profitable betting opportunities than the NFL. The NFL is more popular for sports gamblers, but smart football gamblers take advantage of NCAA games and betting lines to make more money.

Here are five steps you can start using today to improve your NCAA football gambling success. Start using each of these steps, and you’re going to start seeing immediate improvement on your betting results. But more importantly, you can keep building on these tactics once you learn how effective these five steps are.

1 – Betting the Haves and Have-Nots

Do you know why the same teams seem to land in the top 20 every season in NCAA football? Of course, there is some bias in the rankings, both from the people responsible for the rankings and the memory of recent powerhouse programs.

Clemson wasn’t always a national powerhouse, and Michigan used to be one. Programs do rise and fall, and once-dominant programs sometimes fall out of contention, while other schools put together a few good seasons and see their fortunes rise.

When you look at any individual NCAA football season, you can divide the teams into categories. The two broadest categories are the haves and the have-nots. The teams competing for the national championship are the haves, and everyone else would be considered the have-nots.

The problem with this is that there are no more than 10 teams with a realistic shot at winning the national title in any individual season. And most years, there’s really only four or five teams with a real shot.

But you need to break things down into smaller groups than this. The minimum you need to do is break the teams into the top, top half, bottom half, and bottom.

When you do this, you can see that teams from the big conferences make up most of the top half. A few teams from smaller conferences land in the top half, and a few teams from the big conferences land in the bottom half.

Now, take a look at the recruiting ranking boards for every team over the past four to five seasons and see how it relates to where teams land on the first list. You can see a strong correlation. This tells you that recruiting is one of the most important things you need to track as an NCAA football gambler.

NCAA Football Players on the Field

But you need to take this a step further to find good profits. You now know how important recruiting is on an overall level, so the next step is to look at the recruiting rankings for each team in each conference.

It’s easier to find games and lines with value in smaller conferences. And if you know how the recruiting rankings compare inside each of the smaller conferences, it helps you win more of your wagers.

This isn’t a sexy college football betting system, but it’s one you can start using immediately to improve your gambling results.

2 – Why You Shouldn’t Bet on Point Spreads

Point spreads are the most common way to bet on NCAA football games. One team is favored and gives points, and one team is the underdog and gets points.

When you bet on the favorite, you only win when your team wins by more than the number of points you give. This is called covering the spread. When you get points by betting on the underdog, you win when your team wins the game or loses by less than the spread. This is also called covering.

But point spread betting isn’t the only type of wager you can make on NCAA football games. You can place a wide range of wagers. The other two main bets are totals (also called over/under bets) and moneyline bets.

On a moneyline wager, you just pick which team is going to win. A totals bet is a bet on the total number of points scored by both teams, and you can bet over the amount listed by the sportsbook or under the number listed.

All three of the main wager types are tricky to beat consistently, but point spreads are the most challenging. It’s extremely difficult to predict how much a team is going to win by, and there are many things that happen during a game that change the final score.

A single turnover can swing a score by as much as 14 points, which is likely to change a win to a loss or a loss to a win, depending on which side of the game you bet on.

When you focus on betting totals, many things in the game can influence them, but it’s not as bad as point spread bets. One quick tip about betting totals in NCAA football is the under is usually the best bet when two teams that score a lot face off, and the over is usually a good bet when two teams that don’t score as much face off.

My favorite bet type in college football is the moneyline. It’s easier to pick the straight winner of each game than picking the point spread winner. You pay a higher price when you pick a big favorite, but you also get a good price when you identify an underdog with a good chance to win.

3 – Early Season Statistics Are Misleading

One of the mistakes that NCAA football bettors make is relying on early season statistics to evaluate middle and late season games. You have to use statistics to evaluate games, but you have to be careful when using some early season games.

In the early season, many big conference teams schedule small conference teams. This can create unrealistic statistics for both teams.

The big conference team usually has better statistics than they’re going to have once they get into conference play, and the small conference team usually has worse statistics than they’re going to have once they get into conference play.

In games like these, try to identify where each team ranks overall. When a top 20 team is playing a team outside the top 100, the statistics don’t mean much. But when two teams between 40 and 60 play each other, the statistics are much more relevant.

4 – Be Careful of Rivalry Games

I stopped betting on rivalry games several seasons ago. I found them to be too unpredictable for consistent profits.

In a rivalry game, the underdog has a better chance to play better than normal against their hated opponent, so upsets seem to happen often. But when the favorite gets on top, they have a tendency to bury the other team.

If you develop a good evaluation system that can predict rivalry games for a profit, you can continue betting on them. But my recommendation is to find other games on the schedule to make wagers on. In the long run, I predict you’re going to be more profitable when you skip the rivalry games in college football.

5 – You Don’t Have to Bet With the Sportsbooks

If you want a fast and guaranteed way to improve your NCAA football results, all you have to do is stop making wagers with the sportsbooks. When you bet on football with the sportsbooks, you pay vig on your losses.

The vig usually runs around 10% on your losses, and close to 5% overall including wins and losses. This means you can improve your results by close to 5% by making bets that don’t include the vig.

NCAA Football Player Getting Tackled

You can find many different ways to make bets without vig, with the best one being building a network of people who you can bet with. You can still use the lines posted by the sportsbooks, but neither of you have to pay vig on losing wagers.

Other vig-free opportunities exist. Use your imagination and keep your eye open for these opportunities. Every bet you make on an NCAA football game without paying vig improves your short and long term results.


While most NCAA football gamblers lose more than they win, it’s not impossible to learn how to be different. You just have to identify what most losing gamblers do, and do things that they don’t.

This is what the five steps listed on this page are designed to help you do. Learn how to evaluate the college football teams with the best recruits and the ones working with lesser-known recruits. Learn about other betting options than point spreads and the danger of early season stats.

You also need to avoid betting on rivalry games, and you can cut your betting cost considerably by finding ways to bet outside of the sportsbooks.