How to Read College Football Odds in Sports Betting

min read
(Photo by Grindstone Media Group/ Shutterstock)
BetMGM Aug 26, 2021, 4:04 PM

Clemson is a 3.5-point favorite (-105) against Georgia in a Week 1 college football game with an over/under total of 52 points (-110) and money line odds of -160 (Clemson) and +135 (Georgia).

What do those numbers mean? How do you read those college football odds and place a bet on the biggest non-conference game of the season?

College football betting is the best way to get closer to the action throughout the season. And if you don’t have much experience with online sports betting – or need a refresher – it doesn’t take long to learn how to read college football betting odds.

What is the Spread?

What is the margin of victory?

The spread, aka point spread, is the number of points by which one team is favored, i.e., the margin of victory, as set by the sportsbook.

The spread for the Clemson-Georgia game is 3.5 points, meaning Dabo Swinney and the Tigers must win by at least four points to cover the spread of -3.5. Meanwhile, Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs must either win the game or lose by three or fewer points to cover their spread of +3.5.

If, for example, Clemson wins 27-21, the margin of victory is seven points and enough to cash tickets for those who placed a college football bet on Clemson -3.5. If Clemson wins 27-24, the margin of victory is three points and not enough to cash tickets for Clemson -3.5. That three-point win, however, is enough to cash tickets for Georgia +3.5.

If the ticket cashes, the payout is dependent on two things: stake and odds. In this game, as of late August, the odds were -105 for Clemson -3.5 and -115 for Georgia +3.5. If you won the Clemson bet with a $100 stake, you’d receive a payout of $195.24 (including stake). If you won the Georgia bet with a $100 stake, you’d receive a payout of $185.96.

If the spread is a whole number, e.g., -4 or +4, the bet can be a push. If Clemson was a 4-point favorite a won by four points, it’s a push, and spread bets are refunded.

The BetMGM sportsbook automatically calculates the potential payout for you on your betting slip. If you add a bet and stake to your betting slip, you can see the potential payout before placing the bet.

What is the Money Line?

Who will win the game?

The margin of victory is irrelevant with a college football bet on the money line. 

Clemson is a -160 money line favorite against Georgia, who is a +135 money line underdog. While it’s a different bet than the spread, money line odds function in the same way in terms of payout. If you won a Clemson money line bet with a $100 stake, you’d win $162.50.

A Georgia win, meanwhile, would result in a higher payout. With +135 odds, a $100 money line bet would return $235. 

What is the Over/Under Total?

How many total points will be scored in the game?

The Clemson-Georgia over/under total is 52 points. You can either bet the Tigers and Bulldogs will combine for more than 52 points with -110 odds or fewer than 52 points with -110 odds. Like a spread bet, a push is also possible with whole numbers; if they combine for exactly 52 points, it’s a push, and all over/under bets of 52 points are refunded.

If Georgia wins 31-23, the over would hit (54 total points) and return $190.91 on a $100 bet. If Georgia wins 24-23, the under would hit (47 total points) and also return $190.91 on a $100 bet.

What are Parlays?

College football betting doesn’t stop at straight bets like money lines and spreads. You can combine straight bets into a parlay to take your online betting to the next level.

You could, for example, combine the following bets into a college football parlay:

  • Spread: Clemson -3.5 (-105)
  • Money Line: BYU -360 (vs. Arizona)
  • Over/Under: Notre Dame vs. Florida State Under 56.5 (-110)

You could place one $25 on each bet and hold three separate tickets (total stake of $75) with potential payouts totaling $128.48

  • Clemson: $48.81
  • BYU: $31.94
  • Notre Dame/Florida State: $47.73

Or you could combine the bets into a college football parlay and lower your stake to $25 total for a potential payout of $119.07. If all three bets hit, you’ll receive a payout nearly identical to the total payout of three straight bets while risking one-third of the stake.

What is Live Betting?

Live betting is an exhilarating way to make every play count regardless of the score, stakes, or pregame betting.

When a college football game starts, the pregame lines are locked, but that doesn’t mean the betting stops. For the next three hours, you can place live bets on the spread, money line, over/under total, and, if available, player and team prop odds. 

You can view live odds on the live sports betting page and college football betting page throughout the season.

Place College Football Wagers at BetMGM

At the BetMGM sportsbook, you can bet on college football with updated college football odds, parlays, college football live betting, and more. The best mobile sports betting and online sports betting experiences are at the best online sportsbook throughout the season.

BetMGM $1000 Welcome Bonus Offer