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NCAA Football Futures Tips
NCAA football future odds are typically presented in a moneyline format, with the number after the plus sign (Oklahoma +800, for example) being how much you can win based on a $100 wager. Futures odds are most often reserved for select events that promise to draw action from bettors year-round — in college football, that would be the national champion, making the College Football Playoff and winning the Heisman.
College football is a sport dominated by a few power teams that tend to reach the playoff year after year, so don’t expect to get the most favorable odds by betting on the likes of Alabama or Clemson. And yet, the earlier you make a futures bet, the more value you can squeeze out of it — consider that Clemson had +600 odds of winning the national title in January 2018, a number that had dropped to +170 on the eve of its victory in the championship game.
On all college football futures bets, odds will rise and fall as the season progresses, and top candidates for the playoff, championship or Heisman emerge or fade from contention.
One thing to remember: While upstarts rarely factor into the national championship picture in college football, early long shots routinely win the Heisman — 2019 winner Kyler Murray started the season at +2000, 2016 winner Lamar Jackson started that season at +10000 and 2012 winner Johnny Manziel wasn’t even on the board when that campaign began. They’re more the rule than the exception.
What Impacts NCAA Football Futures Betting Odds
Bettors typically don’t have to wait very long for futures odds to be released — some books will have them ready to go for the following season almost immediately after that year’s national champion or Heisman winner is crowned. But wagering too early can present its own set of challenges, given all the variables that can impact odds on NCAA football futures.
The months before the season can bring suspensions and transfers that influence a team’s odds. Spring practice and preseason camp can bring injuries. Public money, or the flow of cash from amateur bettors wagering out of favoritism or name recognition, can have an impact. During the season, even less-than-impressive victories can chip away at the odds of a power program.
When it comes to the Heisman, futures odds typically reflect what players have done the previous season, often setting a very high bar. Too high, in some cases, given that the preseason betting favorite rarely wins the award. Heisman voters typically favor quarterbacks playing in spread offenses, a predication that should be strongly considered even if a running back sports the lowest preseason futures odds.
Shopping around to find the most favorable odds is always encouraged. But so much of this is also about timing, and finding that sweet spot when college football futures odds are ripe to produce the most value.
Betting Win Totals
There’s another type of futures bet you can make, and it involves not game winners, but season win totals. Before the season, sportsbooks will post a projected victory total for each team, and bettors can wager on whether the program will finish above or below that total. It’s essentially over/under betting, but on a team’s final record rather than a game’s final score.
For top programs, that win total can be lofty, given that elite teams rarely lose regular season games. Books will set odds on whether teams will finish above or below the total, weighted according to how strong the squad is expected to be. It’s another way bettors can make the thrill of college football season last almost all year long.