How to read College Football Las Vegas Odds
Similar to our Money Line and 1st Half Odds, every matchup is listed in order of Rotation and those numbers are preceded by the Date and Time of the College Football game.
The rotation for college football games typically lists them by scheduled starting time, which can lead to some confusion since the number will remain the same even if the games wind up changing due to television networks often shifting around action to present more attractive matchups. Home teams are listed at the bottom and will therefore be your even-numbered squad.
The numbers next to the teams are called Spreads or Point-Spreads.
Favorites are the teams laying points, which is represented by a minus (-) sign. The team in the Underdog role is getting points, which is represented by the plus (+) symbol that you wouldn’t see on the board but would be represented next team onto you betting ticket or slip. You can add the spread to your team’s final score and have that edge throughout the game.
If there is no favorite or underdog, the line is called pick’em and is represented by (PK). Winner takes it. The amount of points a team is favored by is set by oddsmakers on Sunday afternoons and that figure fluctuates throughout the week based on the amount of money coming in on bets.
Opposite from the spread you’ll find the Total, which represents what oddsmakers believe will be the combined number of points scored between the teams. That number also increases or decreases based on bets coming in on the Over or Under.
How to Bet College Football Las Vegas Odds
The key to wagering successfully in college football spread betting is to decide early how many points you’re willing to lay with Favorites and to get in at the lowest possible spot.
If you’re going to back the Underdog, make sure you’re getting the most points possible entering the game. The skill in this often requires you to forecast how a game will be wagered since we often see opening lines bet up over the course of the week due to the majority of the money coming in on the favorite.
Of course, getting in too early can often backfire if a better number appears over the course of the week or if injuries that are typically not announced until coaches give status reports on Monday press conferences dramatically alter expectations. There’s also a big rush on betting action just before the kickoff of any game, which means you may be best off waiting until kickoff approaches to get the right number.
Take the 2019 college football Big 12 matchup between Texas-West Virginia as a prime example. The Longhorns opened as an 11.5-point favorite and won 42-31 after the Mountaineers scored the game’s final touchdown with :48 left. West Virginia backers who got in early prevailed on that score, while Texas bettors who guessed wrong and got in too early caught a “bad beat.” Those who waited and laid only 10.5 points still cashed. Get in at the best number!
College Football Opening Line
Opening Lines in college football are typically set on Sunday afternoons in the current week and you usually see immediate action cause line movement. The Spread is based on a rough projection of a score for every matchup, although oddsmakers have a good idea of what side the betting public will want to bet and usually saddles that team with an additional point or three. The same goes for the Total, which projects the combined number of points expected in a contest.
These numbers are based on simulations that take a number of statistical factors into account in addition to baking in injuries, a homefield advantage that is typically worth three points and any other potential edges. Teams coming off bye weeks are usually given an edge thanks to increased preparation time and fresher bodies. Teams coming in on short rest or that have to travel out of their element typically find themselves penalized in a point spread.
UCLA at Cincinnati (-4)
In the above example, UCLA was made a four-point underdog against Cincinnati in the 2019 season opener for both. The betting public jumped on the team from the higher-regarded conference, perhaps believing that the West-Coast team heading more than halfway across the country was being penalized too harshly and the line closed at 2.5 points. Cincinnati prevailed 24-14. The opening line of 4 was accurate in calling for a larger margin of victory than the closing line, which is where the ‘opener’ ultimately ends up.
VI Consensus College Football Line
When looking at the numbers over the course of the week, you’ll see constant line movement on our odds and matchup pages. All of the betting properties we track create their own lines and we display and track all of their movements in the VegasInsider.com Consensus Line. At any given point in the week, from when the line opens until just before kickoff, you’ll see different numbers representing the current lines. Those may vary from one another since properties offer up their own lines, so VI’s Consensus Line represents the one that appears most commonly.
The Total is also available on the VI Consensus line and similarly consists of the current betting line which most frequently among our list of Las Vegas and Global sportsbooks. For an example, in the most recent National Championship between LSU and Clemson, there was significant line fluctuation throughout the two-week lead up. LSU was laying 5.5 to 6 points in multiple locations as the favorite. The battle of Tigers ended with LSU blowing out Clemson 42-25, covering the spread handily.