After a few weeks filled with fun bowl games, college football bowl betting will start to get a little more serious this weekend.
Two College Football Playoff Semifinal games—featuring the four best teams in the country—are set for Saturday, Dec. 29.
It is these games that will decide who plays for the title. Though the College Football Playoff National Championship game isn’t until Jan. 7, now may be the best time to bet on it.
The bowl games that will determine who plays in the championship at Levi’s Stadium, in Santa Clara, Calif., are the Cotton Bowl Classic and the Orange Bowl.
The Cotton Bowl Classic
The undefeated No. 2 ranked Clemson Tigers will take on the undefeated No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Cotton Bowl Classic.
Of course, most legal sportsbooks across the US will have Clemson as the favorite and offer a variety of simple and easy ways you can bet on the game.
Point spread bets ask you to pick the winner with that line factored in. That means you have to add 12.5 points to Notre Dame’s final tally to determine the outcome of the bet.
Of course, you can always take the path of least resistance by just picking a winner and sticking to moneyline bets. Moneyline bets pay according to each team’s probability of winning.
NJ online and mobile sportsbooks, including 888 Sport and playMGM Sports, will probably have Clemson at around a -500 moneyline favorite. This means you’ll have to bet $500 on Clemson to win $100 plus your bet back. However, all Clemson has to do is to win the game outright for these bets to pay off.
Most legal US sportsbooks will also set an over/under line on the game. These are the bets that ask you to pick whether the total amount of points scored will be over or under a number set by oddsmakers.
Of course, you can also put together any combination of one or more of these bets as part of a parlay even if it’s just on this one game.
Like all NJ online and mobile sportsbooks, SugarHouse Casino & Sportsbook and William Hill will allow players to bet small and win big betting parlays.
The Orange Bowl
The second semifinal game will see the undefeated No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide take on the 12-1 No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners in the Orange Bowl.
Sportsbooks are going to have Alabama as the heavy favorite. In fact, NJ online and mobile sports betting outfits like DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook will probably make Alabama the -600 moneyline and -14 point spread favorite.
However, if you think Alabama is about to steamroll its way to the title, there’s still a way to get better odds: a futures bet.
Just like it sounds, a futures bet involve betting on something where the outcome will not be determined until sometime in the future. That traditionally means betting on, e.g., who will win the championship before the season even starts. However, most legal US sportsbooks are still booking futures bets on the College Football Playoff National Championship.
It’s easy because all that’s required is picking the winner before you even know if that team will make it to the championship game.
The national championship’s futures odds
Alabama is a big favorite to get there and win it all. However, futures bets on the Crimson Tide are still offering better odds than the -600 you’re likely to find on Alabama to win the Orange Bowl.
Most legal US sportsbooks will have the futures odds on Alabama to win the title at around -200. This means you’ll have to bet $200 on Alabama to win $100 plus your bet back.
These lines actually move based on what people are betting. A couple of weeks ago, Alabama may have been -280 to win, but since there’s been significant action on the other teams, the line has improved.
However, there are still some pretty juicy odds available on the other three underdog teams. If you think there’s a chance Clemson, Notre Dame or Oklahoma can upset the Tide, shop around for competitive lines and look for something around:
- Clemson: +280
- Notre Dame: +1,100
- Oklahoma: +1,100
As you can see, even a small futures bet on one of the long shots will pay pretty big. Plus, you’ll enjoy a nice sweat come Jan. 7 if your team is still in the fight.