Tips for Betting NCAA Football Games by Quarter

NCAA Notre Dame Football Player With Scoreboard Background

College football is notoriously unpredictable. For that reason, many bettors choose to take a quarter-by-quarter approach to betting on the games.

Taking a quarter-by-quarter approach allows gamblers to break down the games into more manageable segments – not to mention it provides the opportunity to win back losses quickly.

While the basics are the same, there are some specific things to look for when betting by quarter instead of the whole game. I’ll cover those in this article and explain a few other tips for being successful using this method.

Bankroll Management First

One of the most common mistakes, and one of the most dangerous, is bad bankroll management when it comes to betting on a quarterly basis. Because you’re dealing with four bets instead of just one, it’s crucial that you don’t have one bad game that ruins your bankroll for the entire weekend.

The first thing you should do is determine the amount you would bet on the game if you were only playing it as a single game. Ideally you would divide this number by four and wager evenly on each quarter. However, if the game goes along and you feel like you might have a better read on a particular quarter, it is okay to raise your bet slightly.

NCAA Football Linemen

For example, some bettors feel like accurately predicting the first and fourth quarters are more difficult than the middle two. For this reason, they’ll divvy up their betting money in a way that looks like 20%, 30%, 30%, 20% — instead of just 25% all the way through.

The bottom line is whatever strategy you take in terms of money management, do not under any circumstances bet the amount you would wager on a full game four times when betting quarters. The potential for killing your bankroll is just too great.

Study the Sports Gambling Trends

You don’t have to necessarily know why a certain trend exits, you just have to know that it does. Throughout sports, whether you’re talking about betting on the NFL, NBA, and of course, college football, there are teams who perform significantly better in certain quarters, and worse in others.

If you know you’re going to be betting quarters on a game, go back over the data before making any decisions. Simply looking at team’s previous games broken down by quarter can be beneficial in getting a feel for when a team is going to be playing their best football.

Obviously this will change based on the matchup and the other circumstances, but historically speaking, teams who have the head coaching advantage tend to perform well in the third quarter. If a good team is losing going into the tunnel at halftime, strongly consider betting on them in the third.

On the flip side, there are teams who seem to have a knack for letting the game slip away in the fourth quarter, even if they have a lead. This can be valuable information, but be sure that it’s an actual trend and isn’t just something you observed once or twice throughout the course of the season.

Consider Field Position and Possession

Yes, the sportsbooks do take this into account, but it’s not as significant in determining a quarter’s point spread as you might think. Always make sure you’re taking note of where the ball is on the field and how the current drive is going.

For example, often times quarters will be a very small spread such as ½ or 1 ½. That means getting up a touchdown early in the quarter can have major implications.

NCAA Football Player Running the Ball

If a team is starting out the quarter deep in the opponent’s territory, factor this in when deciding which way to bet. If a team is backed up against their own goal line, this is equally significant as well.

The reality is that many people bet on quarters without knowing exactly what’s happening in the game at that moment. If you’re watching the game and can recognize things like field position and how that might impact the quarter as a whole, you’re already ahead of the game.

Don’t Be Afraid of Betting on the Moneyline

Full disclosure, I’m a huge fan of the moneyline. And by that, I mean a huge fan of betting on moneyline underdogs in particular.

I understand that it’s difficult to pick an upset straight up, but when you’re working with a single quarter instead of an entire game, it does become a little bit easier.

If you do want to take the moneyline – specifically underdog moneyline – approach to betting on quarters, it all comes down to the odds. For example, if you’re only getting +110 to win the quarter but the spread is +1/2 at -110, it might be better to take the points in the event of a tie. However, if you’re looking at odds of +130 or better, this is probably worth the risk rather than taking the small number of points.

Any time you can put yourself in a position to win more money than you have to risk, it’s worth exploring. I know that it’s hard to get over the mental hurdle of betting on something that is undeniably less likely to happen, but sharps know this is the way to grow your bankroll over time.

Don’t get caught up in wins and losses. If you win 6 and lose 9 games over the course of a weekend you could still be profitable if you’re sticking to high value plays.

Consider Alternate Betting Lines

For the most part, the point spreads involved with quarterly bets are going to be relatively small (unless you’re betting on a game where the two teams have a significant discrepancy). If you want to get a little more risky and put yourself in a position to win big, alternate lines are the way to go.

If you’re unfamiliar, alternate lines are just like point spreads except for the odds attached to the spreads deviate from the standard -110 (ish). For example, if Alabama was playing against Georgia and the odds were Alabama -3 (-110), an alternate line might be something like Alabama -8 (+185).

NCAA Football Players Celebrating After a Game

If we extrapolate the example above and put it in the context of betting on quarters, it might look something like this: 1st quarter, Alabama -2 at -110. The alternate line could be Alabama -5, +155.

Keep in mind that utilizing alternate lines is going to make it more difficult to win your individual bets, but the tradeoff is that your wins count for much more. As someone who is always looking to increase the value of my plays, I’ve found this to be an effective strategy for squeezing a little more cash out of the sportsbooks when betting on college football.

Look at Different Sportsbook Options

It’s no secret that different sportsbooks have varying odds. Although at first glance the variance might seem insignificant, it’s important to remember that over the course of a season, even small differences in the odds can add up in a big way.

Looking around at different betting platforms before placing a wager should be standard practice regardless of if you’re betting by quarter, half, the whole game, or even futures. I’m only including it in this particular article as a subtle reminder that you should always be looking around for something better.

You wouldn’t pay $3.50 for gas if next door it was available for $3.25, why would you bet $50 at -115 if you could bet $50 at -105 elsewhere?

The margin between being a profitable gambler and one who loses money is razor thin. Give yourself the best chance by choosing the right sportsbook before making your plays.


Betting on individual quarters takes a bit more leg work, but the benefits make it worth the effort if you’re able to refine your skills. In fact, it might even become your new favorite way to gamble on college football.

Finally, it should be noted that none of what I’ve laid out above matters if you don’t actually watch the game. Follow along with the action and you’ll have an advantage over the public which means more money in your pocket.