4 Insider Tricks You Can Use When You Evaluate NCAA Football Moneylines

NCAA College Football Moneylines

You look at the moneylines for an upcoming NCAA football game and don’t see any way the big favorite can lose. So you make a big bet and get lucky, but you only win a small amount of money. You keep doing this until you lose a ton of money on a big upset.

Many sports gamblers fall into this trap and end up losing a lot of money.

But you don’t have to fall into the same trap. Instead, you can learn how to find value on the moneyline instead of relying on luck. The four insider tricks in this post are the best way to start.

How NCAA Football Moneylines Work

Moneyline bets in football all work the same, whether you’re betting on college or pro football.

You decide which team is going to win, and you make a bet based only on whether the team wins or loses. Deciding which team will win seems simple, and it often is simple. But you have to risk a lot more than even money if you bet on a team who’s heavily favored to win.

Here’s an example if you want to see exactly how a moneyline bet in NCAA football works.

Ohio State:
  • In this example, if you bet on Michigan, you win $245 for every $100 you bet. If you bet $10 and Michigan wins, you get back your $10 and win $24.50
  • If you bet on Ohio State to win, you have to bet $320 for every $100 you can win. If you bet $32 and Ohio State wins, you get back your $32 and win $10.

The road team is always listed first, and the home team is always listed second. In this example, Ohio State is playing at Michigan. The favored team always has a negative number, and the underdog always has a positive number.

Please Note:
Occasionally you find a moneyline that has negative numbers for each team. For example, each team is listed at -110. When you see a moneyline like this, it means that each team has the same odds, and you have to bet $110 to win $100, no matter which team you choose.

In the game used in the example, Ohio State is favored by 8 ½ points on the point spread. So if you bet on Ohio State and gave the points, you bet $110 to win $100, or if you bet on Michigan and take the points, you still have to bet $110 to win $100.

1. Never Bet on a Road Team

When I handicapped the game used in the example in the last section, I determined that Ohio State should win the game and cover the spread.

But I didn’t bet the moneyline because it goes against a rule I’ve used for years on moneyline bets. The rule is that no matter what everything else looks like and my handicapping shows, I never bet the moneyline on a road team.

So the reason why I don’t bet on a road team on the moneyline isn’t that there’s never value. I never bet a road team on the moneyline because of the relative cost of the bet.

For example:
I bet on Ohio State and gave the points on the point spread, but I didn’t bet on Ohio State on the Moneyline because my risk on the moneyline is almost three times my risk on the point spread.

Of course, if Ohio State wins the game by eight or fewer points, the moneyline pays, and I lose the spread bet.

In my experience:
Road teams are far more likely to play poorly than home teams, and when an upset happens on the moneyline, it’s almost always the home team knocking off the underdog road team.

Some smart sports gamblers make money betting on road teams on the moneyline, but almost all of them identify road underdogs that have a chance to win that earn them more than even money on their bets.

2. Recruiting Rankings and Composite Talent

When I started betting on sports, there weren’t any systems in place to track recruiting. Obviously, the best teams in the country had better talent than the worst teams, but nobody was trying to identify how big the talent gap was between teams.

Now several tracking services assign star ratings to football prospects. So you can quickly look up which teams in the country are getting the highest-rated prospects and which teams have the most talent.

On average, the team with the best players wins. Of course, there are upsets every year, but it’s rare for a team with talent that ranks 30 or more points below another team to win.

Recruiting rankings show where each team ranks in relation to other teams for talent in a particular class. Composite rankings show where each team is in comparison to other teams as far as the total talent on the roster.

When looking at moneylines in NCAA football, the money is almost always on the team with the better composite talent rank.

Please Note:
You have to be careful when using recruiting rankings and composite talent rankings. The difference between teams ranked at one and three isn’t big. But the difference between the team ranked at three, and the team ranked at 10 can be quite big.

It takes some time to learn just how important recruiting rankings and composite talent are for evaluating moneylines, but once you get some experience, few tools are as important as these rankings.

3. Look for Average Value

Winning moneyline NCAA football gamblers learn how to find value in the lines. And it’s actually simple to determine if a moneyline has value or not, as long as you can accurately predict how often a team is likely to win a game.

When I evaluated the game in the example listed above, I determined that Ohio State will win the game two out of three times, and Michigan is going to win the game one out of three times. The problem is that the game is only played once. But you can still use your predictions to see if there’s value. Ohio State is playing on the road, so I’m not considering them on the moneyline. But Michigan is at home, and you can win more than you risk. So you need to determine if there’s value on Michigan on the moneyline.

If you bet on the game three times and bet $100 on Michigan each of the three times, your cost is $300. If Michigan loses two of the three games, you don’t get anything back. But if Michigan wins the third game, you get back your $100 and win $245 for $345.

If Michigan can win the game one out of three times, this bet has value because $345 is higher than $300.

But what happens if Michigan can only win this game one out of every four times? Your total cost is $400, and you only get $345 the one time out of four they win.

So, in this case, the bet doesn’t have value.

Because one out of three and one out of four are so close, I decided the moneyline on Michigan didn’t offer enough value, so I didn’t make the bet.

4. Nothing Is Perfect

One of the first things you have to learn when you bet on moneylines in college football is that there’s no such thing as a sure thing. Yes, Alabama is going to win almost every time they play a team outside the top 20, but they’re never going to win 100% of the time.

Clemson was a powerhouse that was a fairly safe moneyline bet for several years, but then they fell off a cliff early in the 2021 season. Most sports gamblers lose money betting on moneylines in NCAA football because they look for big favorites and bet on them. These bettors just assume that the big favorite is never going to lose, so the bettors don’t worry about betting a lot of money to win a little bit of money.

And the truth is that most of the time, this plan works well. But when a big favorite loses, you lose a bunch of money.

You usually lose so much money that it eliminates all of the small profits you made earlier.

Instead of looking for the sure thing, focus on finding value, which is usually found in games with lower moneylines than those that look perfect.


NCAA football moneyline wagers aren’t really any different than point spread bets and totals wagers. You still have to find the best value before you place a bet if you want to make a long-term profit.

Final Thoughts:
The mistake most sports gamblers make is believing that moneylines are easier to win with because they only have to pick the team who wins. On the surface, it looks easy, but when you consider how much it costs when you lose, moneylines can be a tricky way to bet on college football.

Use the four insider tricks for betting on NCAA football moneylines in this post to make a profit.


Sub Categories:
Rex Hoffman / Author

Rex Hoffman is a passionate sports writer, with over five years of experience covering sports journalism in line with the Vegas betting landscape. His favorite subjects include football, basketball, and baseball. As a Las Vegas resident, he enjoys finding an edge against the local sportsbooks and aims to share his extensive knowledge with both beginners and experienced bettors. Rex also dabbles in horse racing wagering and enjoys typical casino fare like blackjack and poker in his spare time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.