Before you dive into the action, we’ve devised a quick walkthrough guide that will help you understand what the three most popular types of college football betting methods and how to use them.

The point spread is the most common way handicappers bet on college football. The spread is a number that’s created by the college football odds makers to even out the matchups between two teams. For example, if one successful, big college football school is playing a weaker team, a point spread will even out the matchup. Here’s how:

Houston Cougars +21

USC Trojans -21

In this setting, USC is a 21-point favorite. When there’s a minus sign in front of the number, that’s how many points the team needs to win by to cover the point spread. In this case, USC would need to win by 22 points or more to cover. As for Houston, they are +21, which means they are receiving 21 points. If they lose by 20 points or less, or if they win the game, then they cover the point spread.

If the game lands exactly on 21 points, it’s considered a tie or a push, as it is called in the industry. Usually, spreads end with a .5, as in 7.5 or 20.5. That way, there can’t be a tie.

Money Line

While the point spread makes the bettor focus on how many points need to be scored to cover a spread, the money line simply refers to a team winning outright. So in the above case, if you placed your college football picks on USC on the money line, they wouldn’t have to win by 21 points. If they won, you would win your bet. If you were betting Houston, the same would be the case: if they win, you win. If they lose, you lose. However, the odds change significantly in a money line bet and the numbers even look a bit different. Let’s take a look at another example:

LSU Tigers +140

Alabama Crimson Tide -160

In this example, the Alabama Crimson Tide favored by -160. With the minus sign in front, what this means is if you bet \$160, you win \$100. With LSU, the plus sign indicates the amount of money you would win if you bet \$100 (\$140 in this case). Although these numbers are based on \$100 bets, you can bet whichever amount you want. The ratios simply change.

The key with a money line bet is that you’re betting on a team to win outright; that’s all. No points are involved.

Total

Total betting in college football is pretty much exactly how it is in any other sport: there’s an over/under and you bet on whether the two teams will combine to score more or less than that number.

For example, let’s say the total in the Alabama-LSU game is set at 39.5. In this case, let’s say you think it will be a shootout. You can bet over and predict that there will be more than 39.5 point scored in the game. Now if you think it will be a defensive struggle, you’d probably bet under 39.5.

That’s how the total works. It’s that simple.