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How College Football Lines Work
How College Football Odds Work: Lines, Point Spreads and Over/Unders
If you’re going to bet on college football odds, it’s essential to understand each aspect of odds listing, including the rotation number, point spread, moneyline and over/under. You’ll often find different terms used to describe these with the rotation number called the number, point spread shortened to spread, moneyline to line and over/under simply called the total. These are all lumped together under the term odds.
Odds are basically a way of leveling the playing field and in college football due to the fact that there are hundreds of mismatches per year the field really does need to be leveled. By utilizing odds in various ways bookmakers are attempting to get an equal number of wagers on each team. In doing so, they are able to ensure that they make cash no matter who wins.
When reading college football odds, the first thing you will see on the left is the time and date of the game. Next, you’ll see two numbers and the team names. Each team is assigned a rotation number. These numbers are standard on all sportsbooks and do a few things. First, it creates a certain order for the games as each matchup is listed in numerical order. The other thing the number does is it allows bettors to refer to the game and team without having to mention the team name or anything else.
Let’s say on a matchup between Ohio State and Wisconsin. If Wisconsin is the home team, the Buckeyes are listed first and given the number 109, then the Badgers would be listed second and would be 110. When placing a bet over the phone or at a land-based sportsbook you simply need to mention the team’s number.
After the teams, the various odds are listed. First will be the point spread. There may or may not be a moneyline, as sometimes a book will list these separately and finally the over/under is given.
The point spread will list one team in the negative and the other in the positive. (Unless neither team is favored, then they will be listed as EVEN or PICK). The club posted in the negative with a minus sign is favored and so the bookies take points away from them, which means that team must win by at least a certain number of points to cover the spread. The underdog will have a plus sign and will cover if they win outright or lose by less than the posted number.
This game may have Ohio State at -7.5 and Wisconsin at +7.5. If you bet on Ohio State at -7.5, which makes them the favorite, they must win by 8 or more for you to collect your winnings. On the other hand when wagering on Wisconsin, the dog in this point spread, the Badgers will pay off if they lose by less than 8 or win outright.
Sometimes you’ll find a spread listed as a whole number. Decimals or fractions are often used and do prevent ties but if in our example the spread was set at 7 with the Buckeyes being the favorite and they win by 7, then the game is a tie. That’s called a push. The result of a push is all bets are off and all money wagered is returned.
Although the odds on a spread bet are often listed as being even at 1:1, the fact is they are 0.90:1, which is a bit less than even. How does this work? Often in the point spread you’ll see next to each spread number -110. This tells you how much you have to wager to make $100. Thus, with the point spread -100 will always be listed, which means if someone wagers $110, they will make a $100 profit if they win. (If betting $11.00, the payout would be $10.00)
The moneyline works differently. With this type of wager whichever team wins outright pays off. There is no spread. How does the line work? The favorite is listed with a minus sign and a number. That number is the amount of cash that must be bet in order to win $100. The underdog is posted with a plus sign in front of a number. The number is how much a sports bettor wins on a $100 wager.
Taking the same matchup and odds, Ohio State would be listed at -360 and Wisconsin at +280. To take the Buckeyes, who are favored, a bettor would wager $360 to win $100. On the other hand when taking the dog, which in this case is Wisconsin, $100 is bet to win $280.
If Ohio State won and you bet to win $100 on the Buckeyes you would receive $100 plus your original stake of $360 returned back to you. Conversely if you laid $100 on Wisconsin and the Badgers pulled the upset you would receive $280 plus the $100 back that you used to place the bet.
There is a correlation between the point spread and the moneyline. You’ll find that these vary a bit from book to book and will move depending on the amount of action a book receives on the spread or moneyline, but they basically work like this:
The final type of bet you’ll find listed when looking at standard college football odds is the over/under. This is a projection of the total number of points that may be scored. It is usually listed as a fraction with the stake listed as it is in the spread (-110).
With the over/under or total, bets are being made on what the total score may be. In our example which features two solid defenses and good offenses, the total might be around 41. If OSU scores 24 and Wisconsin 20, the total would be 44 or over the 41. If the Buckeyes scored 21 and the Badgers 14, then the total would be 35 so the under would win. Once again sometimes, if the total is a whole number, the result may be a push. That results in all bets simply being returned.
Once you understand how odds in college football are expressed, you can use them to start to determine where your money should go. Be sure to see our college football odds page that connects you with the top sportsbooks on the Internet. The odds makers are trying to even out all bets. Your job is to determine on which side of the point spread, line or over/under it goes.
College Football Betting Information
In addition to the links on the top right of the page in the table below there are more pages to all of the College football betting information available at Maddux Sports. You can click on any of the links anytime to read up or receive all the NCAA football betting information a sports bettor could ask for.