College Football Futures

College Football Betting: Futures Bets

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper,

It’s nice sometimes to make a bet that can last almost all season long. It gives you a reason to stay involved. In college football, the amount of futures bets you can make may be limited. The most popular one is picking which team will win the whole enchilada–the National Championship game.

The odds for these bets are available very early–months before the college football season even gets under way. And depending on your pick, there is great value in these odds. Sure, your team needs to win the whole thing, but a lot of teams that could come out of nowhere are buried down far on the list at exorbitant odds.

There is obvious downside to making these bets. Chief amongst the drawbacks is that you will have your money tied up for months. That could be costly especially if you’re having a winning year. And when making this bet, you’re taking an extreme position. It’s one thing to say a team will have a good year or even a great one, but win the whole thing? That’s about as all-or-nothing as it gets.

The rule of thumb is to find good value. Picking correctly is vital, but you are asking for so much that you should at least stand to be paid off in a big way. And unfortunately, when you deal with the frontrunners, your potential payout will not be that great. Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, and teams like that can be as low as 4/1 or 5/1–a paltry payout considering what you’re asking them to do.


The bigger-time teams, the ones with long histories of national success and large followings have a lot of people betting on them. The bookie knows he needn’t make the line overly-tantalizing to get bets on teams that are always bet on heavily. But if the bookie wants people to be betting on less-ballyhooed teams to win the National Championship, he needs to dangle an awfully big prize.

So if you see Alabama at 5/1 and Virginia Tech at 25/1, ask yourself: Is Alabama 5 times more likely to win the National Championship than Virginia Tech. Maybe the answer is yes, so you go ahead and take Alabama. Their recent history indicates that there are far stupider bets, even if the value isn’t that awesome. And there is nothing sweeter than having Alabama at +500 going into the championship game when everyone else is betting them on the money line at -175 or having to give up points.

You can also bet on who will win the Heisman Trophy. The odds will include a handful of the top candidates heading into the season. Just remember if you have your eye on a player who figures to explode this season, the bookie has also picked up on it. But it can be fun to back a player and be able to monitor his progress all season. And unlike the National Championship bet, a player can still be in the running despite a bad or losing performance.

Some books offer a “field” option along with their Heisman Trophy bets. That means if you are picking someone other than who they have listed, you bet the field, which gives you some leverage. The player you picked, or any player who isn’t listed can win and you get paid off.