Betting the College Football Spread

College Football

College football is also referred to as the NCAA football due to the NCAA being the reigning body over all collegiate sports. What any college football fan knows, or should know is that the highly competitive and skilled environment fuels the need to take part in it. This is where sports betting comes into play. One of the aspects of betting on college football is by placing a wager on the Point Spread. There are different aspects of the point spread that can help a bettor determine what side the sportsbook is leaning towards, as well as gives the bettor a chance to place a great bet.

As such, there are a few things about the point spread that bettors need to know, such as what it is and how it works, general tips to look out for, and a very popular method of betting the point spread, Middling.

What is the Point Spread

The point spread is a very basic and easy to understand concept. This is one of the three main types of betting that appear on any kind of betting line. A point spread is how it sounds; it is the point difference once a college football match has finalized. For example, if there is a match between the Ball State Cardinals and the Clemson Tigers, where the final score is Clemson 34 and Ball State 27; the point difference is of 7 points in favor of Clemson.

Those 7 points is what is considered to be the point spread of the final outcome. However, in terms of betting, the point spread that appears on the betting line refers to the Predicted final point difference after the match is over. The bettor has two choices, to bet on the Favorite or the Underdog.

How the Point Spread Works

First off, we will be using this following example that could show up on any online sportsbook.




Ball State +27 -110
Clemson -27 -110


From this example there are two important factors that a bettor determines right from the beginning, which team is the Favorite/Underdog and the predicted point difference. Every sports bettor should know that the “-” indicates the Favorite and the “+” indicates the Underdog; this is crucial to remember as it determines how the spread is evaluated and paid.

Betting on the Favorite

When a bettor is choosing to wager on the Favorite, they are stating that the team will not only win the match, but they will win the match by more than the predicted point spread. The only way for this bet to pay out anything at all, is for the Favorite to win by more than the point spread. If they fail to beat the spread or lose the match, the bet loses.

In this case, the bettor would pick Clemson to win, and they would have to do so by 28 points or more; if they win by 27 points, the bet ties and the bettor’s initial investment is returned. If Clemson does win by more than 27 points, based on the Price, the bettor would win $100 for every $110 wagered.

Betting the Underdog

Betting on the Underdog is a bigger risk, but using the point spread, the bettor can minimize that risk. There are two possible ways for a bettor to win this bet. The first way is for the Underdog to outright win the match, which would automatically payout. The second way is for the Underdog to beat the spread; which means they do not have to win the game to win the bet. All they have to do is keep the final score difference below what the point spread is predicting.

For the above example, Ball State would either have to beat Clemson, or keep the final score difference below 27 points.

What to Look Out For

Betting the point spread in college football is all about knowing the teams, especially knowing their average points scored against teams similar in rankings as the team they are about to play against. As important as knowing the teams, is also reading and understanding the point spread itself. The numbers indicate a lot of different information. Remember that in college football, there are high scores more often than not as the skill difference is skewed.

Point Spread of 3

There is a high amount of college football games that end with a three point difference, unless of course the matchup is between a very good team and a very bad team; then it would be a blow out. Keeping this number in mind and the high probability of a game ending with just 3 points difference, should indicate how good the teams are. The bettor should place the wager on the Favorite if they think they are able to score 3 or more points and on the Underdog if they can keep the score within 3 or less points. Either way, the bettor has good chances of either tying or winning the bet.

Point Spread of 2.5 or 3.5

It gets more complicated when this number changes to a 2.5 or a 3.5. The reason being is that the sportsbook is leaning the bet towards the Favorite, with the 2.5, and the Underdog with the 3.5. So bettors should be cautious around these two numbers.

Point Spread of 10+

When the point spread is indicating a high point difference, the bettor needs to think of two things; is the Underdog good enough to stop the other team from scoring more points and is the Favorite good enough to beat the spread. These questions can be answered by looking at the stats posted by both teams, but not just their general stats, but by comparing how well the Underdogs defense is and the Favorites offense is. If the information leans one way or the other, the bettors should act accordingly.

Point Spread between 3 and 10

These are the toughest matches to gauge, as the point spread does not really indicate by what degree the other team is better than the other. Simply keep in mind if these spread come with or without a .5; this can help lean more towards the Favorite or the Underdog.


This is a very popular method of betting the point spread. As the name would suggest, a bettor would place bets that take on the form of a middle ground. In other words, the bettor would split their risk, as well as possible loss in half. The way these bettors accomplish this is by comparing the point spread odds of two different sportsbooks; obviously the spread have to be different, one leaning towards the Favorite and the other leaning towards the Underdog.

Sportsbook #1 data:




Ball State +27 -110
Clemson -27 -110


Sportsbook #2 data:




Ball State +27½ +115
Clemson -27½ -125



The point spread may not have a huge difference, but remember the power the .5 has when it comes to the spread. A bettor would do the following:

Bet On

Spread (sportsbook)


Clemson -27                     (#1) -110
Ball State +27½                 (#2) +115


This way the bettor would place a $110 bet on Clemson, and a $100 bet on Ball State. If the Clemson bet wins, they would earn $100, whereas if the Ball State bet wins, they would earn $115. This way, the bettor will be limiting their losses.





Total Won

Clemson bet wins $100 $100 $0
Ball State bet wins $115 $110 $5


As you can see, this method limits the amount lost, by making up for it with the amount won; sometimes surpassing it with the amount won. The winnings may be very small, but do this enough, and they will add up. This is the whole concept of middling the point spread.


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