With millions of dollars wagered every season, betting on college football is one of the biggest attractions at US sportsbooks. By the time the National Championship comes around, that interest goes through the roof.
As legal online sportsbooks and betting apps explode in popularity, so too has betting on the College Football Playoff and National Championship. But you don’t need to wait until the final four or the Championship game is announced to place your bets.
Thanks to the NCAAF Championship futures market, you can bet on the college football national champion every day of the year, in season or not. We’ll show you where and how you can do it online in the US below.
Legal sports betting is booming here in the US, and the end result for consumers is a number of different sportsbook apps to choose from. Here are three top operators that checked off all of the boxes in our review.
DraftKings Sportsbook is legal in: NJ, CO, PA, WV, IN, NH, IA
Daily fantasy sports leader DraftKings has made some serious waves in sports betting. The platform is slick, users love it, and you’ll find all of the NCAAF futures and betting markets you could ask for.
FanDuel Sportsbook is legal in: NJ, CO, PA, WV and IN
FanDuel Sportsbook is legal in: NJ, CO, PA, WV and IN
FanDuel is another DFS titan that has gone all in with sports betting. The company is off to a fantastic start and has emerged as a market leader. User-friendly offerings and stellar customer service are among the calling cards, as is a huge range of game-to-game NCAAF betting lines and national champion odds.
BetMGM Sportsbook is legal in: NJ, CO, IN and WV
This is the app from gaming giant MGM, and it doesn’t disappoint. BetMGM features all of the bells and whistles you need to get going with sports betting and a fantastic interface that makes betting a pleasure. You’ll also find all of the college football markets you’re looking for.
Sportsbook apps feature all of the same things you’ll find at the full online sportsbook, including college football lines, prop betting markets and NCAAF futures. Given how accessible your betting app is, that means you can react quickly as things change during the college football season.
Huge win for a sleeper team? Log in and get your bet down before the odds market has a chance to react. Horrible loss for one of the favorites? Take a pause and see how the public reacts and look to get a bet in at an even better price.
Odds are real-time as listed at legal US online sportsbooks. Hover over the odds you like and click to claim your welcome bonus and register a new account. Use the toggle menus to change your state or see alternate NCAA football odds boards.
The legal sports betting environment in the US is expanding every year. A number of states are fully up and running with both retail and online sportsbooks, while others are still a work in progress. Here’s the current list of states where you can legally and safely make your college football bets online:
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These days the NCAA football national champ is settled on the field, but that hasn’t always been the case. Up until the creation of the Bowl Championship Series in 2014, it was up to pollsters to decide (often controversially) which team was the national champ each season.
Today’s College Football Playoff, an extension of the BCS, makes things a little clearer. The four best football teams in the nation are declared and seed 1-4, and they play down until one champ is left standing.
The futures market that speculates on who exactly that Championship team might be is incredibly active. Odds for next year’s National Champion are released soon after the current year’s championship game is in the books. Sportsbooks will release odds for all teams in Division I, which can also be referred to as the Football Bowl Subdivision, or FBS for short.
All told, there are 130 teams spread across 10 conferences with some independent programs in the mix. The biggest five conferences are known as the Power Five and consist of the largest programs, while the others are called the Group of Five and contain some smaller schools.
The National Champion odds board is typically listed in descending order with the favorites up top. In this category, you’ll mainly see the powerhouse programs that appear to be in good shape for the coming year. Next is the mid-tier range of schools, which is generally a mix of other Power Five schools and the best of the Group of Five. At the bottom of the list are the longshots, featuring both small and large schools that appear set for a trying campaign.
For futures bettors, the goal is to find value on the teams that they think have a real shot at winning the title. Some bettors pounce on the market soon after odds are released and take a long-term view, while others stay engaged all season long and hunt for appealing opportunities.
Potential payouts on futures bets depend on the odds, but there are solid returns to be found in each tier. For example, let’s consider the odds (at DraftKings) for a trio of favorites for 2020-21.
If you liked Ohio State and dropped a $100 bet at odds of +400, you’d be looking at a profit of $400 if the Buckeyes win the national championship. Next, let’s consider the odds for some teams in the mid-tier.
Let’s say you liked Group of Five squad UCF to shock the world, and it managed to make it happen. A $100 wager would return an awesome profit of $11,000. Last but not least, let’s consider the odds for some longshots.
For a longshot to win the title, it would truly need to capture lightning in a bottle. However, let’s say it’s a program you have a really good feel for and it goes on a run for the ages. If that team was Michigan State at odds of +25000, the profit on a $100 bet would be $25,000.
There are a couple of things you need to keep in mind for future bets. First, in the unlikely event that an entire season was canceled, then that market would be void and bets would be refunded. Also, once a team is officially eliminated from contention, bets on that club are graded as losers.
In college football, the past can provide some clear-cut clues we can glean by studying which teams have etched their place in history as national champs.
Over the past decade, teams that won the crown have come from just three conferences:
All three of those conferences are in the Power Five, which translates into powerhouse programs that knock it out of the park on the recruiting front.
Beyond attracting the best players, the top programs also spare little expense in the coaching department. Coaching is tantamount to success in all levels of football, but a case can be made that it is most important at the collegiate level due to high levels of player turnover.
When scrolling through the futures odds board in search of opportunities, keep all of these factors in mind. Start by looking at the favorites and make a case for each of the teams in the top 10. You can do so by running through the following questions.
While each season is a new one in the world of college football and full of new faces, you can still find clues on how things might shake out in the coming season. The above questions can help a lot, as can digging into overall team trends on stats such as:
Also, it’s very helpful to be realistic with your expectations. While everyone loves the story of a smaller program that goes on an undefeated run, the reality is that the national champ is likely going to come from one of the Power Five schools.
As mentioned, the last decade of champs have all come from three conferences. In fact, that trend holds true going back to 2006. The other two Power Five conferences — Pac-12 and Big 12 — haven’t won titles since 2004 and 2005, respectively.
Teams with a legitimate chance at the national title have become much more apparent in the current FBS era. The pools did a pretty good job back in the day, and the Bowl Championship Series was created to improve on that.
The evolution to the current structure in which there’s a four-team playoff resulting in a true national title game has made the picture crystal clear.
Looking ahead to the coming season, the theory of dominant conferences holds true. For the current top 12 contenders on the board, here’s how it shakes out.
Based on the futures odds at FanDuel sportsbook, we have to go down to the 14th and 15th spots to find the first Pac-12 schools listed in Oregon and USC. For Group of Five programs, the first team listed is UCF in the 25th spot.
If we drill down even further, we find that the top six schools on the odds listing come from the three conferences that have won the bulk of the national titles since the turn of the century. Let’s take a closer look at the current favorites.
The Tigers have been one of the top teams in the nation for several seasons, and it looks like more of the same is coming. Clemson lost last year’s title game but has sealed the deal twice in the last four seasons. Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne lead the way for what should be a potent offense.
The Buckeyes were a serious contender a season ago, coming up just short in a loss to Clemson in the playoffs. Justin Fields is back and among the Heisman favorites, and that’s just bad news for the Big Ten and everyone else in Ohio State’s path in the coming year.
The Crimson Tide were in the unfamiliar position of being on the outside looking in at last year’s College Football Playoff. As the oddsmakers see it, that was an anomaly. Just like every other season, there has been a good amount of attrition to the NFL, but Alabama is once again stocked with talent.
The Bulldogs haven’t been able to get over the hump in the SEC, but perhaps this is the season. Jamie Newman has transferred over from Wake Forest to lead the way on offense and take over for Jake Fromm. Georgia’s typically explosive running attack and stout defense always makes this a club to watch.
Yes, the SEC is loaded once again. The Gators will battle Georgia for supremacy in the East Division. Whichever club takes it down will have a path ahead to the CFP, but it’s far from a sure thing as the winner of the West is generally among the nation’s best. Could there be a changing of the guard this year?
As expected, the defending national champions have lost a lot of talent to the NFL. Ed Orgeron and company have had little trouble attracting recruits, so the Tigers should once again be among the SEC’s best. However, snagging another CFP berth is far from a sure thing.
Beyond the favorites, there are a number intriguing programs to keep on the radar for the coming season. They range from squads just outside the top tier to a couple of teams further down the board.
Jimbo Fisher accepted the job at A&M with his sights set on building a national champion. He’s now in year three at the helm, and the Aggies have a great chance at taking a leap forward. That said, the daunting SEC schedule may have something to say about that.
The Golden Gophers were one of the best stories of last season and an unexpected threat in the Big Ten. The program has lost some talent and has its work cut out to turn the same trick. However, P.J. Fleck has done a fantastic job in Minnesota, so further improvement would be less than surprising.
The Knights have been regarded as the top Group of Five program in the nation for quite a while now. Josh Heupel and company aren’t resting on their laurels and have a goal of hanging with the big boys year in and year out. Will this be the season the program takes the proverbial leap to the next level?
The past decade has been a memorable one for college football. We’ve seen the implementation of the CFP, tons of talent on the field and sidelines, and scores of memorable contests. Here’s a look back at the last 10 champs and their final records.
The College Football Playoff was first put in place for the 2014-15 season. Since then, just two teams have run the table all the way through and remained undefeated. Clemson pulled it off in 2018, while LSU did the same a season ago. We’ll have to wait and see if another team can turn that trick in the coming campaign.
There’s a lot more to see in the NCAAF futures market than just the winner of the next national championship. Here are the other main categories you can place your bets on.
The next edition of the College Football Playoff national title game is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, will serve as the venue for the crowning of the next champ.
The College Football Playoff Selection Committee makes the call. About halfway through the season, the CFP poll begins being released weekly. Once the season is in the books, the selections are announced along with the pairings for the New Year’s Six bowl games.
Since the turn of the century, the SEC has led the way. The league that many observers view as the best in college football has won 10 of the last 20 national championships. Here’s the breakdown of other conferences to win over that span: ACC, 4; Big 12, 2; Big Ten, 2; Pac-12, 2.
Since the AP Poll was unveiled in 1936, there have been eight teams that have repeated as national champs. Minnesota was the first program to do it, in 1940 and 1941. The most recent repeat winner was Alabama in 2011 and 2012.
There’s not necessarily one single best time to get in the game with futures. For some bettors, the answer is to pounce on the odds soon after they are released. Other bettors prefer to remain engaged throughout the season and hunt for appealing opportunities as they pop up. You can take whatever approach works best for your overall game plan.