How to Bet on College Football for the 2021 Season

By in College Football on
14 Minute Read

The 2021 college football season is steaming towards us like a running back out in the open field. It’s about a month or so before the first major college football games, and bettors can’t wait. With that in mind, we’re here to help you get ready for it all by telling you exactly how to bet at top college football betting sites during the 2021 season.

After an odds 2020 season when some major teams played a lot more than others and made everything seem a bit out of whack, the 2021 season promises to return to a sense of normalcy. Teams will be getting ready to start up the action at the end of the summer with the idea of winning their conferences, a bowl games, or maybe even the national championship. As for bettors, we know that you’re getting ready as well to make your real money wagers on the upcoming season.

With that in mind, we’re here to help you get started with your wagers by explaining how to bet on college football for the 2021 season. We’ll take a look at how you can legally make your wagers, what it takes to bet online, and what kinds of wagers you can make. Finally, we’ll give you some quick tips to help you make solid wagers for the upcoming college football campaign.

How to Legally Bet on College Football in 2021

As popular as college football has been over the last century or so, you couldn’t legally wager on the games for much of that time. You could make informal wagers with friends and get away with it. Or you could risk it and bet with a local bookie, even though such action was strictly prohibited by the law.

But in recent years, the laws against sports gambling have started to fall by the wayside. A ruling by the United States Supreme Court in 2018 opened the door for many states to legalize sports gambling within their borders, and many have since done so. And even before that, online gambling sites were allowing US bettors to speculate on the all the college football action.

There are now generally two ways by which you can legally bet on college football. They are:

  • Visit a land-based sportsbook and make a wager there. These sportsbooks are allowed in many US states and other locations around the world and will take your bets (and pay you back when you win.) You can usually find sportsbooks in casinos or as a part of horse racing tracks, or you might be able to find them as standalone establishments.
  • Sign up for an online sports gambling site. Some of these sites are sanctioned by US states. More often than not, these sites emanate from overseas locations where online sports gambling is legal and accept college football wagers from US residents.

The problem with wagering at physical sportsbooks is that it can be problematic for many people to get to one. There are many areas in the United States where the nearest sportsbook is a drive of several hours away. Even if you can get to a sportsbook, it can be an inconvenience if you’re trying to make a wager in a hurry.

That’s why we’re going to focus this article on college football wagering that takes place at online sports gambling sites. With an account at one or more of these sites, you can make your wagers at any connected device. And that means that you can gamble on the go as long as the site offers you some sort of mobile component.

How to Get Started Betting on College Football at a Sports Betting Website

For those who have never used an online sports betting site, it can be somewhat intimidating to get started. This is especially true if you are little wary of technology. But the truth is that you can easily handle it, especially if you use one of the top betting sites that make it easy for you to start wagering real money on college football.

To get started, all you have to do is follow these five easy steps:

  1. Sign up for a site: You just have to click on the link that says something like “Join” or “Sign Up” and you’ll be prompted to fill in some information. At that point, you might have to confirm your account so that the site knows you’re a real person. And you’ll have to come up with a user name and password so that you can quickly access your account at any time.
  2. Fund your betting: in order to win real money from a betting site, you first have to put some money on the line. To do that, you have to fund an account by whatever methods the site allows, such as credit cards or cryptocurrency. When you fill out the financial data, you’ll decide how much you want to deposit.
  3. See if you qualify for any bonuses. Most likely, you’ll be offered a welcome bonus at the very least when you sign up. You might also find that there are bonuses tied specifically into college football betting. Your account’s dashboard should tell you which bonuses you can activate and if you have to enter any kind of bonus code.
  4. Make your bets. You’ll have to decide on the type of wager (more on that in a bit), what game or event you’re going to bet, which choice within the bet you’re going to make, and how much you want to wager. The site will provide you with dropdown menus for all of those choices to make it easy for you.
  5. Collect any winnings you’ve amassed. To do this, you’ll have to make a withdrawal request in whatever method you’ve chosen (and that the site allows.) The site will then respond to this request and send out your winnings to you.

It’s important to choose sites that are reliable and trustworthy, because you will be yielding your personal and financial information to them. You should also look for sites that give you nice betting variety and big bonuses, while also making their site easy to use. Here are the sites that we recommend for your college football betting in 2021:

Understanding the Moneyline for College Football Bets

Before you can get too carried away with the types of wagers you can make on college football in the 2021 season, you have to first understand how the odds work. At top sports gambling sites, the moneyline in football is the key piece of information that you’ll get in terms of the odds. It will be in place for just about every major type of wager you can make, which is why you should learn a little bit about it before you make your wagers.

The key to understanding the moneyline is remembering that the number 100 is kind of the foundation for it. All moneyline odds will be greater than 100 (or even, which means you win exactly the amount that you bet.) Here is how it works:

  • If there is a minus sign in front of the moneyline number, it means you’ll have to bet that number to win $100 in return.
  • If there is a plus sign in front of the moneyline number, it means you’ll have to bet $100 to win that number in return.

In other words, when a minus sign is involved, your profit will be less than the size of your bet if you win. And when a plus sign is involved, the profit will be more than the size of your bet. Keep in mind that any time you win, you also get the amount that you wagered back.

Here is an example to explain how that works:

  • Option A: -150
  • Option B: +175

In this example, Option A is the favorite. You’d have to bet $150 on Option A to win $100 of profit. Meanwhile, a $100 bet on Option B would return you $175 of profit.

But you don’t have to be limited in what you bet to some sort of connection to the number 100. Think of the moneyline as the ratio which is attached to all your bets, no matter how big or small they might be. In this example, it works like this:

  • For every $1.50 you bet on Option A, you’ll get $1 back in profit
  • For every $1 you bet on Option B, you’ll get $1.75 in profit

For example:

  • If you wager $300 on Option A and win, you’ll get $200 in profit
  • If you wager $200 on Option B and win, you’ll get $350 in profit

Many people only associate the moneyline with win/loss bets on individual games. But the moneyline will be in place for any kind of a bet you make on college football at top sports gambling sites. That’s why it’s a good idea to get a feel for it before you get started.

Types of College Football Bets

One of the cool things about wagering on college football is that there are so many different types of wagers you can make pertaining to the sport. Some of them can be on the actual games themselves. And some of them can be on other aspects of the sport.

In any case, you’re bound to find a style of college football of wager that synchs with your wagering needs. And you might also find yourself mixing and matching your bets throughout the 2021 season from week to week. Here are the main types of bets you’ll likely come to know well for the next few months.

Win/Loss Bets

In this case, the oddsmakers at sports betting sites will simply place moneyline odds on each team involved in an individual college football game. You just have to pick who you think will win the game. An example might look like this:

  • Syracuse: -125
  • North Caroline State: +150

In this case, Syracuse is the favorite and North Carolina State the underdog. The oddsmakers place the line in an effort to get the same amount of wagers on both sides of the bet, so that the betting site doesn’t get too exposed by one outcome or the other. In this case, they clearly feel like Syracuse would get more bets to win if the line were even, so they’ve tilted the line a bit to make it more lucrative and thus more enticing to wager on North Carolina State.

Keep in mind that the moneyline might be altered at different points leading up to a game. The oddsmakers will do this if they think too much money is being bet on one side or the other. But once you make your wager, your odds will be locked in and won’t change no matter where the line moves.

Win/loss bets are great for beginners because they’re easy to understand. You can sometimes get value too if you choose a big underdog that pulls off an upset. Those that like the chance at sure-thing wins can bet heavy favorites, but that won’t bring you back much in the way of profit.

Point Spread Bets

Point spread wagers are extremely popular in college football. Oddsmakers will create a line that is intended to even out two teams in a game. Bettors like it because you can get close to even-money odds with the spread, which is a good return for getting your pick right.

The spread is generally set at the amount that the oddsmaker anticipates the margin to be at the end of the game. Favorites are “giving the points” and underdogs are “getting the points.” These points are added to or subtracted from the final score to determine who wins the bet.

Here is a look at a sample point spread wager:

  • Penn State: -4 ½ (-110)
  • Illinois: +4 ½ (-110)

In this example, Penn State is favored to defeat Illinois by 4 ½ points. As you can see, the moneyline is the same on both sides. That’s because the oddsmakers is balancing out the bets with the spread and doesn’t need to so with the moneyline as well.

How does it work? Let’s look at some sample outcomes:

  • Penn State wins the game 21-14. Even if you subtract the 4 ½ points from Penn State’s total, they still come out ahead 17 ½-14, which means that Penn State wagers are winners. (You could do this the other way and add 4 ½ points to Illinois total, making it 21-18 ½, and the end result is the same.)
  • Penn State wins the game 37-34. When you take 4 ½ points away from Penn State’s total, the score becomes 34-32 ½ in favor of Illinois. Even though they lost the game, Illinois bets win with the point spread.
  • Illinois wins the game 10-7. Whenever an underdog wins, they will automatically win on the point spread side as well, since the spread just adds to their margin. Thus, Illinois bettors win the point spread wager.

Just as is the case with the moneyline, the point spread might move leading up to a college football game if the betting goes too far in one direction or the other. Many bettors like to wager early when they see the line at a level that they like. Other spread bettors like to wait to see the line move to get an indication of where the money is being bet.

Over/Under Bets

When you make an over/under bet on a college football game, you’re not really going to concern yourself with who wins the game or by how much. But you are going to worry about how many points are scored in the game by both teams. In particular, you’ll be trying to speculate how that total will compare to the line set by the oddsmaker at the real money sports betting site you’re using.

The oddsmakers sets the line and you have to decide if the final total of points of both teams’ scores added up will be over or under that amount. For example, an over/under line might look like this:

  • Over 34 ½ points (-110)
  • Under 34 ½ points (-110)

At the end of the game, total the scores of both teams to see whether the game went over or under the line. For example:

  • Final score: 28-15. Add that up and you get 43 points, more than 34 ½. Over bets win.
  • Final score: 20-14. Add that up and you get 34 points, less than 34 ½. Under bets win

In most cases, oddsmakers at top betting sites will include half-points in their over/under lines so that there is no chance of a tie. Over/Under bets are effective if you have a feel of whether the game is going to be high-scoring or low-scoring. That can be easier sometimes than trying to tell how one team is going to perform against the other.


Parlay wagers involve multiple elements. To win the parlay wager, you have to get every part of the bet correct. If one part of the bet is wrong, you lose the wager.

Why then would you want to make a futures wager if it’s harder to hit?

Because sports gambling sites will offer you more payback if you get a parlay right. The more elements that you include in the bet, the higher your potential payback will be.

As an example of a parlay you could make in a single game, look at the following line:

  • Ohio State: -5 ½; over/under 56 ½
  • Michigan: +5 ½; over/under 56 ½

Let’s say that you decide to parlay Michigan getting points with the under. Let’s take a look at some possible outcomes and how they relate to the parlay:

  • Ohio State wins 31-17. The under was the right bet, but Michigan didn’t cover the spread. You lose the parlay.
  • Ohio State wins 43-41. Michigan covered, but the game went over. You lose the parlay.
  • Michigan wins 10-7. Michigan covered the spread and the game stayed under. You win the parlay.

Another way to use a parlay is to pick multiple games in a given week of the college football season. In this way, you can include many more than two elements. It might be a hard wager to hit, but the payoff could be massive.

Futures Wagers

Most college football wagers are focused on individual games. But there are some bets which might take a look at another aspect of the sport that pertains to a bigger part off the picture. Futures wagers are like this, and they usually include someone making a wager well before the outcome of the bet is decided.

As an example of such a bet, a sports betting website might give odds on which team will win a particular conference championship. For the 2021 college football season, many sites might have posted those futures odds right after the 2020 season concluded. They will offer those odds as the season progresses and, as the outlook of each team changes, the futures odds will change.

The idea behind a futures bet is that you can usually get more lucrative odds on the outcome of a wager a long time before it is decided because of all the unknown variables that might take place in between. Futures bets can provide some of the highest payback totals for any college football wagers. But you just have to accept the risk that accompanies them, since any number of things can derail your bet when you’re wagering that far in advance.

Prop Bets

Prop bets are wagers that are constructed by oddsmakers to allow bettors to speculate on some aspect of the sport. They can overlay with futures wagers in some cases. But the distinguishing characteristic of prop bets is that they can be a bit off the beaten path from what you might expect college football wagers to encompass.

Some prop bets put the focus on the performance of individual players within games. Others are connected to the big picture of college football. Prop bets can be narrowed to two possible outcomes or can have dozens of betting options attached to them.

Possible prop bets on college football include:

  • What will be the first score in the national championship game
  • Will a defensive player win the Heisman Trophy?
  • Which Division I college football coach will be the first to get fired?
  • Will a Football Bowl Subdivision Team get into the college football playoffs?
  • Which player will lead the ACC in rushing?

As you can see from this example, there are many different ways that prop bets can be constructed. And, as the season progresses, different ones may pop up depending on current college football events. In any case, these wagers can be fun while also paying off pretty well.

College Football 2021 Betting Tips

  • Always consider the home-field advantage. This could be in play much more in 2021 than it was a year ago because the stadiums are once again expected to be filled. Make sure to check the home and road records of the teams involved to see if there’s an edge to be had.
  • Make sure you look at the pace of play. This is especially the case if you’re betting an over/under. If the teams involved like to play particularly fast or slow, it could definitely have an effect at the scoring in the game.
  • Don’t forget to check the injury report. Just one or two key injuries can have a drastic effect on the outcome of the game. Check social media reports right before game time for last-minute information.


It won’t be long now that college football teams across the country are beginning their 2021 seasons. This should be a particularly wild one with a lot of prime betting opportunities. We hope that this article gets you started on your way to winning a lot of money this year with your college football wagers.

Jim Beviglia

Jim Beviglia joined as a staff writer in 2018, parlaying his years of freelance writing into contributions on a number of different topics. He handles the sport of horse racing for and the intersection between the worlds of cryptocurrency and online gambling in a weekly blog. For his full-time job, Jim handles the television and track announcing duties at a h ...

View all posts by Jim Beviglia
Email the author at: [email protected]