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College Football Totals

College Football Totals

By Loot, College Football Handicapper,

Betting totals in college football is a popular, but sometimes overlooked part of wagering. People betting on college football want some excitement. And taking a side is the route people usually go. Rooting for a specific team is just more appealing that betting the “under” and sitting there hoping no one scores.

But if you were to be in a room with the top ten college football bettors in the country, one thing they would all tell you is that betting totals is a key part of their betting profile. And many people are able to show a greater profit betting on totals than they ever were able to demonstrate while betting against the spread.

When betting totals, you might forego some of the excitement other bettors experience when betting on a side. After all, betting on totals means you don’t really care who wins. You’re just trying to figure out how many points will be scored by both teams. And when people watch sports, their viewing pleasure is enhanced by rooting for a certain team. Betting totals sort of robs you of that thrill. Then again, maybe it’s better to let the kids have a good time, while you get the last laugh by winning your bet.

This is a very easy bet to understand. In fact, if you were in Vegas with a relative from a foreign country and he wanted to make a college football bet without knowing anything about college ball or sports-betting, the over-under bet would probably be the one you want to explain to him. It’s that basic. Here’s an example.

USC Trojans vs, Stanford Cardinal, Total: 54

Over 54 (-110), Under 54 (-110)

All you care about in an over-under bet is how many points are scored. Will it be over or under 54 points? Pretty easy, right? And that money line of -110, the same you see when picking sides, is also at play when choosing over-unders. That simply means you must bet $110 for every $100 you intend to win. And since the total of 54 falls on a whole number, there is a chance that it can be a “push,” where both sides receive their bet back. Let’s do another example:

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Michigan Wolverines, Total: 46.5

Over 46.5 (-110), Under 46.5 (-110)

Many totals fall on a half-point, meaning there cannot be a push. There must be a winner and loser on this bet. Unlike the NFL, college football has an overtime format that is not sudden-death. If you’re betting the “under,” the last thing you want is to see a game go to overtime, where a bunch of points will likely be scored.

Tip: Most bookies charge -110 odds on sides and totals. You only pay -105 odds when you place your football bets at 5Dimes!

In college football totals betting, you will be forced to read between the lines and use a bit of a cagey perspective. If something is too obvious, it will probably not work. For example, you might see two teams playing whose defenses are porous, but their offenses are prolific. The first thing your gut will tell you is that the game will go “over.” Seems reasonable.

But the bookie has already taken that under consideration. Not only does he know both teams have weak defenses and powerful offenses, but also that bettors will also notice that and send a bunch of bets cascading in on the “over.” So what does he do? He sets the number extra-high, knowing that people will still bet it in droves. He will actually want you to bet the “over.”

First of all, you never want to do what the bookie wants you to do. Secondly, blindly taking the “over” based on half-baked observations like “Oh, they both have great offenses and bad defenses” is falling into a trap. You think you’re the only one who noticed the particulars of this match-up? The bookie knew about it first. So he set the line super-high, rightfully expecting a larger volume of bets on the “over.”

You want good value as a bettor. Making obvious observations that other people surely made puts you in a position to get poor value. In the above example, the bookie expects people to bet the “over” and raises the number, depriving you of good value. Is it any wonder why playing the “over” on big totals is a losing play year after year in college football?

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