College Football Money Line Bets

College Football Betting: The Money Line

By Loot, College Football Handicapper,

Ugh, those dreaded point spreads. Ever feel like just picking the straight-up winner of a college football game? Then maybe, money line betting is for you. Betting on the money line allows you to disregard point-spreads, which can be quite a privilege. If picking the favorite of the game, you will pay for that privilege, but it is still an attractive betting option for many bettors.

Rather than seeing a common point-spread, you will see both teams listed with a corresponding number–one with a plus-sign and one with a minus-sign. The plus sign always indicates an underdog, while the minus-sign means that team is a favorite. When betting favorites, you will obviously be forced to wager more than you stand to win. If betting on an underdog, you stand to earn more than you wagered. Let’s look at an example.

Michigan Wolverines (+210) vs. Michigan State Spartans (-250)

Michigan (+210) is the underdog and Michigan State (-250) is the favorite. These numbers are built around the concept of a $100 bet, though you can bet any amount and the numbers will be proportional. Michigan at +210 simply means that you win $210 for every $100 you bet. So if you bet $100 on Michigan and they win, you receive your $100 bet back plus $210 in winnings for a total of $310. If you bet $50, you would win $105. If you bet $25, you would win $52.50.

Michigan State is at -250. That means you must bet $250 for every $100 you win. So if you bet $250 and win, you get your $250 bet back and $100 in winnings for a total of $350. If you wanted to win $50, you bet $125, and so on…

Why Bet on the Money Line

There are advantages on both sides. Betting on favorites and underdogs on the money line are steeped in good reason, to varying degrees. The most popular bet within this framework is taking a favorite on the money line in order to not give up points. Obviously, a favored team is more likely to win straight-up than they are to win by a certain number of points. It’s a less worrisome bet.

Bettors of underdogs do so under the presumption that they can enhance their profits in the event of a winning bet. The underdog money line bettor doesn’t need to win most of his bets. In fact, he can earn a handsome profit and be well under 50%. Sure, you lose more than you normally would by picking favorites or betting against the spread, but winning a few key bets can allow you to absorb losses without going into the red.

Possible Dangers of Betting the Money Line

There is a definite comfort in betting favorites where they only need to win the game. And every week, you will see favorites and be tempted to bet on then, since a straight-up victory seems like all but a certainty. But if betting favorites on the money line is a big part of your betting repertoire, you are behind the 8-ball in a major way. Say, for example, the money line favorites you bet average out to -300. You are now faced with the ultra-challenging task of picking 75% correct just to remain even!

Betting big favorites on the money line can get you sideways if you’re not careful. If you lose a few consecutive bets, it could be bowl season before you start getting back to even, assuming you even get on a roll, which isn’t guaranteed.

Betting on underdogs on the money line sort of flies in the face of a gambling mantra which says you shouldn’t ask for too much. Betting against the spread is plenty difficult enough. That alone is a hard enough grind. Now you’re asking for your underdog team to not only cover the spread, but win the game? Naturally, you will not feel very good about your betting acumen when you lose a money line bet on an underdog that would have otherwise covered the spread.


Sportsbooks vary greatly on their coverage of college football money lines. At most books, you won’t see a money line for every single college game. Some might only have it for a handful of games. If money line betting on a wide variety of games is something you either like or plan on doing, make sure your book carries a wide array of options. MyBookie is an online sportsbook that carries moneylines on all games, regardless of how big the game spread!

In addition, there might be limits on which money lines you can include on a parlay or a teaser. And in some cases, you will have to wait until very late in the week before all the money lines are posted, which might force you to not be able to make concrete betting plans earlier in the week.