College Football Betting Odds

College Football Odds

Whenever there is a mention of the word “odds”, one can automatically assume that they are talking about the chances a person or team has of winning a match. For a sports bettor, in this current market, the odds can mean or be any of a set of many options. A sports-bettor has to take into account the different ways of showing or reading odds; American, Decimal, or Fraction. Once the way the odds are presented has been picked, the next step would be how to interpret each of the different types of odds, and even how to calculate the possible payouts for each of the type of odds.


Fractional Odds

Fractional odds are a very basic and simple way of interpreting the chances a college football team has of winning, either a match or the championship. They are basically represented by a fraction, where the number represents the odds, out of 1.00, what the team’s odds of winning are.


Interpreting the Fractions

Let’s say for example there is a matchup between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and the sportsbook gives them these fractional odds.

Pittsburgh 8/5
Cincinnati 14/25

To determine which team is the Favorite and which is the Underdog, we simply look at the fraction for a mathematical point of view. Looking at the Pittsburgh odds of 8/5, we can see that they are the Underdogs, as their odds are more than 1.00; while Cincinnati is the Favorite thanks to the fact that their odds of 14/25 give a number below 1.00.

Note: if both odds are shown to be below or above 1.00, this simply means the bigger number is Underdog and the smaller number is the Favorite. Bettors can just divide the number on top by the number below. Bigger payouts mean that they have less chances of winning.


Calculating the Payout

Calculating the payout using fractional odds is the simplest of the three different types of odds.


Amount Wagered



8/5 $100 ($100 x 8) / 5 $160
14/25 $100 ($100 x 14) / 25 $56


There are two ways to calculate the odds, the mathematical version used in the example, or the simple 1 – 2 step. With the mathematical version, the bettor would take the total amount they are going to wager and multiply that by the number on the top, and then divide by the number on bottom to get the payout. For the 1-2 method, the bettor would simply state that the number on the bottom is the amount they need to wager in order to win the number on the top. Using the 8/5 odds, we can state that the bettor would need to wager $5 in order to win $8.


Decimal Odds

Decimal odds are using simple symbols and numbers in order to represent the odds a team has of winning. The lower the number is, the better odds that team has of winning, and the inverse applies; the bigger the decimal number is, the worse their odds are of winning.


Interpreting the Decimal

Let’s stick with the same example as above, but changing the odds.

Pittsburgh 2.60
Cincinnati 1.55


By looking at the numbers, we can determine that Pittsburgh is the Underdog, as the number is larger, while Cincinnati has the lower number making them the Favorite.


Calculating the Payout


Amount Wagered



Total Payout

2.60 $100 ($100 x 2.60) $160 $260
1.55 $100 ($100 x 1.55) $55 $155


The simplest way of calculating the total payout is simply by multiplying the amount wagered by the decimal number; all a bettor needs is a calculator. Remember that the total payout amount include the Initial Amount Wagered and the Payout Amount. The payout is determined by doing the above calculation, and subtracting the amount wagered; that is how much money they won on top of their investment.


American Odds

American odds are a little more complicated to understand at first, but once a bettor has a firm grasp of what they are and how to interpret them, it is extremely easy. American odds are split into two parts, their symbols and their numbers.


Interpreting the American Odds

Using the same example, but using American odds.

Pittsburgh +160
Cincinnati -180


There are two factors that a bettor needs to take into account when interpreting these odds, the symbols and the numbers. Before anything, the symbols are what determine the Favorite/Underdog relationship, as well as the payout structure and method. While the number determines two aspects as well, the payout/pay-in amount, and to determine the performance gap between the Favorite/Underdog.

To begin, there are two symbols, the “+” and the “-“. The + symbol represents the Underdog, while the – symbol represents the Favorite; always keep this in mind. The numbers in this case, would represent how big the performance gap is between the Favorite and the Underdog. The further apart they are from each other; the sportsbook is giving the Favorite much better chances at winning. The closer the numbers are to each other, or if they both have the same symbol, this represents a close match; both teams are about equal in terms of performance, but one has a slight advantage over the other.


Calculating the Payout

As mentioned before the symbols and numbers also influence the pay-outs and pay-ins. Pay-outs are the amount of money a bettor gets if they win a bet and the pay-in is the amount of money a bettor has to wager in order to receive a certain payout.

The + symbol means that the amount or number in front of it represents the amount that a bettor will win; the payout. The – symbol instead represents the amount the bettor has to pay-in to receive a certain amount; the amounts are generally based on $100 increments.




+160 $100 $160
-180 $180 $100


Notice how the pay-in for the Favorite is much higher and the Underdog is much lower, while the pay-outs for each are the complete opposite. This is because the sortsbooks have decided that betting on the Favorite to win is a much safer bet, and they will have to pay out with less risk involved. Less risk = less reward, while more risk = more reward.


Odds can Say A Lot

We all know now that odds can tell a bettor which team is the Favorite and the Underdog, as well as how the payouts are done. However, there is another important factor that bettors should when looking at the odds at any sportsbook. First of all, sportsbooks are in it to make money, so bettors should be somewhat skeptical about the odds given, as there could be better odds out there.

Odds are a way to show what the public thinks will happen during a given match, whether it is due to hype and public opinion, or due to statistics and data. Bettors can work backwards when looking at the odds and base a preemptive prediction on them, since sportsbooks have already done most of the handicapping for the bettors. What a bettor needs to do is make sure that what the sportsbook show is what would really occur. Bettors can do their own research and based on that, they can then make a decision of whether or not the sportsbook shows an accurate prediction.


Sportsbook Example

The following data has been pulled from TopBet, a great U.S. friendly sportsbook. We will be looking at a real example of what the odds would look like when a bettor steps into the online sports betting realm.








Pittsburgh +4 -105 +155 Ov    49.0 -110
Cincinnati -4 -105 -175 Un    49.0 -110
Utah -7.5 -105 -300 Ov    53.0 -110
Utah State +7.5 -105 +250 Un    53.0 -110
Penn St +9.5 Even -110 Ov    0.0 -110
Virginia -9.5 -110 -110 Un    0.0 -110


The American odds are usually the default odds shown on U.S. friendly sportsbooks, while Fraction odds tend to be the norm at non-U.S. friendly sportsbooks. Either way, most sportsbook allow their bettors to change the odds type.


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