College Football Vs. NFL Betting: What Are The Key Differences?

Football is a big deal at online sportsbooks, and we’re not just talking about the pro game. There is a ton of general interest in college football, and that directly translates into scores of bettors who want in on the action. If pigskin is your thing, you can stay engaged from late August to the Super Bowl via the NFL and NCAA football.

While the NFL is the overall king at the betting window, a lot of volume also comes in on the amateur side. There’s a lot to love about the college game, and all of the same types of bets you know and love are available. So which of the two sports is the best from a NY sports betting perspective? Read on as we tackle this intriguing topic in full detail.

Which sport brings in more betting action — NFL or NCAAF?

The NFL is the most popular sport in the US. It’s the sport that brings in the biggest viewership numbers, receives the most general coverage and is also the most heavily bet. From the opening contest of the regular season to the last play of the Super Bowl, each event on the docket will capture plenty of attention and betting interest.

College football also has an incredibly loyal and passionate following. The marquee games during the year will capture attention that rivals other sports, while interest goes completely through the roof for the College Football Playoff and national title game. For some handicappers, college football is the top sport to focus on.

If you’re looking to base your choice solely on popularity and betting action, then the NFL wins, hands down. However, if you’re a fan of one and you’re intrigued by the other, you’ll find there’s plenty of crossover between the two. In fact, being well-versed in both games can help improve your overall football handicapping skill set

Major bets for NFL vs. college football

The basic bet types are the same for pro and college football. When you click on the sport at online sportsbooks, the football betting lobby will be populated with upcoming games. The listing for each individual contest will look something like this:

  • Clemson +3.5 (-110)      +155                U 54.5 (-110)
  • Alabama -3.5 (-110)       -175                 O 54.5 (-110)

The numbers next to the two team names are for the big three bet types: point spread, moneyline and total. Here’s a refresher on how they work.

  • Moneylines: Pick which side you think will win.
  • Point spreads: Take the favorite minus the points or the underdog plus the number.
  • Totals: Choose over or under on the estimated total points scored.

While the bets are the same for both sports, there are variances to be aware of. Over on the college side, there can be lots of mismatches in which stronger programs face off against small schools. That can lead to some seriously inflated moneyline odds and spreads. In the NFL, there’s a good deal of parity, so double-digit spreads are far less common.

On an overall basis, the college game is more high-scoring. That’ll be reflected in the totals, as it’s not uncommon to see games with 60+ point benchmarks. In the NFL, that’s relatively rare as the projected shootouts are generally in the 50s. The big three bets will attract lots of action for both sports. Here are another two popular wagers that bring in lots of action.

Props: If you click on an individual game listing, you’ll find the available props. There will be bets on team performance or the game as a whole, as well as on the individual accomplishments of players.

How many combined yards will Saquon Barkley have?

    • Over 109.5 (-115)
    • Under 109.5 (-105)

Live betting: These are wagers that let you bet in real-time as the game plays out on the field. You’ll see the latest odds and lines based on the current state of affairs, as well as many prop-style offerings.

Which side will have more rushing yards in the second half?

  • Michigan +145
  • Ohio State -120

The menu of bets for both sports runs deep. Additional options include parlays, which are bets with multiple wagers on a single ticket, and teasers, which let you move the spread on two or more games. Whether you’re betting on the NFL or NCAA, you certainly won’t be lacking for options with bet types.

What’s more profitable, NFL or NCAAF?

There’s no guarantee that one sport will be more profitable for you than the other. It comes down to your skill level and what you’re looking to achieve. If you like dozens of games to choose from each week, then check out the college football odds. For those who prefer fewer contests to focus on, the NFL is the way to go.

From a volume perspective, there are more games on college football weekly regular-season slates, so those who are looking for a lot of variety will certainly be pleased. Over in the NFL, there’s a maximum of 16 games per week during the regular season, and they’ll all be in distinct broadcasting windows. For bettors who like a set routine, the NFL has a lot to offer.

In the end, your profitability will come down to your betting style and approach, not to mention how successful you are in handicapping the games. It’s possible to build up consistency with both sports, but it’s not necessarily easier to do so in one over the other. For some bettors, the answer is to focus on both and track profitability on an overall football betting basis.

Does public betting matter more for NFL or NCAA football? 

The NFL receives tons of media coverage, both in general and from a handicapping perspective. Every angle and trend will be dissected in its entirety as a result, including public betting numbers. If you spend enough time researching, you’ll undoubtedly come across various takes on which way the money is flowing.

For college football, games are much more spread out during the season. For example, it’s not uncommon to see 40+ games on a full Saturday slate. While there are plenty of folks who examine the public betting percentages for all contests, the majority of chatter on that topic is reserved for marquee and nationally televised affairs.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that public money is not the end-all and be-all for decision making, but rather a small piece of the overall puzzle. While there are plenty of advocates for fading the public, blindly doing that with every game is far from a recipe for success. As opposed to doing that, pick your spots and view public betting as a box on the checklist.

What are the most popular bets in the NFL?  

While all NFL bet types will attract attention, the biggest conversation driver throughout the week is the point spread. Oddsmakers set a spread — such as 3.5 points — and bettors can then choose the favorite minus the points or the dog plus the number. The side they choose has to cover for the bet to win.

In the days leading up to the game, there will be tons of speculation on things like which side will cover or which numbers seem off. Many handicappers like the consistent returns that spread betting can offer, but actually beating it on a long-term basis is far from easy. As such, other bettors prefer to focus on moneylines and totals.

There are also plenty of advocates for props, live betting, futures and all of the other bet types you can consider. As for where you should look to bet on an individual basis, it comes down to what works best for you. Your comfort level, understanding and skill set should be the determining factors for where and how you wager.

What are the most popular bets in college football?  

As mentioned, there can be lots of mismatches during the college football regular season. Enter the point spread to level the playing field. Those paper mismatches suddenly become a lot more appealing once a spread is factored into the equation. Just like the NFL, the point spread is a top option for college football handicappers.

However, there’s also a case to be made for moneyline bets and totals. The simple nature of the moneyline makes it a great starting point for new bettors, but be sure to pick your spots to find the best value opportunities. There are plenty of high-scoring college games each week, and totals are quite popular as a result.

For props and live betting, there’s a market on the college side, but not necessarily as many offerings as one would find for the pro game. When it comes to futures, the NFL is more popular on an overall basis, but top NCAA markets like playoff teams and conference winners will generate plenty of action at sportsbooks.

Pros and cons of betting on the NFL 

There’s a lot to love about betting on the NFL, so one could easily make a case for betting on it. However, any fair assessment of a topic has to include the potential downsides. Let’s take a look at some of the top reasons that betting on the NFL is awesome.

  • It’s the most popular sport in the US in terms of general interest, as well as the one that receives the most betting volume.
  • Each game attracts tons of attention. Staying on top of the latest news is easy as a result, and it’s rare that information slips through the cracks.
  • There are plenty of bets to consider, and numerous strategies that you can employ for wagering on each of them.

The pro side is a strong one, but there are downsides to consider. Here are three of the biggest and how they can impact NFL betting.

  • Since each game attracts so much volume, oddsmakers devote lots of time to the lines. Odds are tight in the NFL and generally on point.
  • The sheer amount of coverage and opinions on how the games will shake out can be overwhelming and potentially impact your thinking.
  • The NFL is a parity-driven league, so there’s not a ton of difference between many of the squads in the league.

Pros and cons of betting on NCAAF

Similar to the NFL, there are arguments that suggest betting on college football is the way to go. On the other side of the coin, not everyone is going to be in love with the amateur game. Let’s start with the positives to consider.

  • Jam-packed schedule during the season, with lots of games to consider.
  • Less overall coverage than the NFL, so there are edges for you to find.
  • Lines can be softer on under-the-radar matchups.

Since there are so many games on the college football docket, volume will be spread out. Naturally, oddsmakers will devote most of their time to more popular games, so the less heavily bet ones could be ripe for exploiting. On the downside, here are some college football betting factors to consider.

  • Information on playing time and injury concerns can be much tougher to come by.
  • Many mismatches with high spreads to ponder over.
  • Not as many prop and live betting opportunities as you’ll find in the NFL.

When considering betting on the NFL and any other sport, it’s important to look at the big picture. Once you’ve assessed the pros and cons, think through whether it’s for you. While many bettors are all about the NFL, it may not be for everyone.

At the end of the day, you have to decide what makes the most sense for you and your betting strategy. For some, that means starting with one and checking out the other once your skills develop, while others may prefer tackling both the NFL and college football right from the start. If you choose the latter, you’ll find that there are lots of similarities, but also distinct nuances to consider.

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