Betting on NFL vs. NCAAF: Key Differences

Online sports betting will launch in Ohio on Jan. 1, 2023. This page will be updated with the latest news, odds and promos once Ohio sportsbooks are live.

The NFL and NCAA football are two of the largest spectator sports in America. This has translated to those two seeing a disproportionate amount of betting action at US sportsbooks. Of the two, which should newcomer sports bettors consider the better option? Is one easier to make a profit with?

With legal sports betting coming to Ohio, we’re going to take a look at betting on the NFL and college football. Read on, and we’ll walk you through the pros and cons of each.

NFL vs. NCAAF betting action

While the popularity of both the NFL and college football is undisputed, sportsbooks tend to see more action on the pros. There may be plenty of reasons for that to be the case when it comes to each individual bettor, and you may prefer to wager on college athletics over the pros, but here are a few reasons why experienced bettors typically choose the NFL:

  • More consistency: These are professionals we are talking about, so anything less than consistency is a problem. The teams bring a high level of play each and every game. They feature the best players to come through college and into the pro ranks. Bettors can typically be confident that their research will give them the information they need to make wagers.
  • College football can be quite difficult to prep for: In the NFL, nearly every team runs, at the very least, a similar offense and defense. In college, offenses, defenses and the philosophy of the coaching staff can all differ quite drastically. This means there is a lot more volatility when it comes to prepping for each team every week. That can lead to less confidence if you aren’t sure how well your teams match up at times. Just because a team does great against a spread offense one week doesn’t mean it has the personnel to defeat a solid triple-option squad.
  • Availability of information: The NFL has far fewer teams than Division I college football. This can make it easier to track down info on the teams you want to bet on. In college, teams are spread across the country, often with varying levels of media coverage. The result can be more difficulties in researching NCAA games compared to NFL games.

Main bets for NFL vs. college football

Because of the popularity of football in North America, you are pretty much able to place any bet that you like, especially when it comes to the NFL. From moneylines to totals to point spreads to props and parlays, they’re all available.

The most popular bets you’re going to encounter at Ohio betting sites are moneylines, point spreads and totals (aka over/unders). These three bets are common across the vast majority of sports you’ll be wagering on. Your options are hardly limited to those three, however. You’ll also find various futures, prop bets, parlays and more. Most sportsbooks will also offer live betting, which will allow you to make wagers as a game is playing out.

NFL or NCAAF betting online – Which offers the most profit?

Depending on how deep you’re willing to dig to find the best values, you’ll likely find yourself with pretty even win/loss potential for both the NFL and NCAA football. Many bettors choose to stick with the more well-known college teams. The available information for those games tends to be pretty thorough. However, there also can be value in the lesser-known teams and games, which can often be pretty one-sided. By doing your research, doing the proper line shopping and managing your bankroll, you can find yourself some solid wins to help boost your profits.

That being said, the sheer amount of data for NFL teams, as well as the larger college programs, allows for some solid conclusions in your research. Those teams tend to play fairly consistent football. While you’re unlikely to make vast sums of money, you will have the opportunity to slowly grow your bankroll and profits.

Public betting on the NFL vs. college football

Public betting can be the cause of line shifts that alter the numbers from where sportsbooks originally established them. If the public bets heavily on one outcome over the other, a sportsbook may adjust the odds to make the other outcome more attractive to bettors.

Some college games are going to be fairly one-sided affairs just due to the distinct differences in athletic talent, coaching and size of each school. Those games are usually very lopsided in terms of odds, indicating the sportsbooks do not expect any other outcome besides the favorite to win.

For games with more even opponents, however, the odds are going to be a lot tighter. This can make public betting a definite factor in how the lines move. If sportsbooks see the public is wagering heavily on one team over the other, they will try to offset any potential losses by trying to attract bets on the other team. To do so, they make the odds more attractive on that side.

The same goes for the NFL, though it’s not quite as common to see major shifts due to public wagering. The NFL has the attention of the largest media outlets, the most sports bettors and oddsmakers, and seemingly limitless data available for each team and game. Because of this, oddsmakers tend to have pretty precise lines on most games.

However, the public has definitely been the cause of line shifts in the NFL in the past, especially when it comes to betting on the Super Bowl.

Public wagering can lead sportsbooks to offer better odds, odds boosts, promotions and more to entice bettors to offset the lopsided wagering that has been taking place. In either case, make sure to do your research as to why the lines are shifting and see how to best fit the new odds into your strategy.

Keep in mind that whatever the odds are when you make your wager are the odds you’ll have no matter what. Even if the public causes a line to move, you’ll keep the odds from when you placed your bet.

Popular NFL bets

For new sports bettors, the moneyline is likely the most popular option for NFL wagering. It’s a simple bet that only requires you to pick which team you believe is going to win. The side with negative odds (such as -145) is the favorite. Positive moneyline odds, meanwhile, indicate an underdog (such as +130).

More experienced bettors may prefer point spreads over moneyline betting. The point spread, which shows us underdogs and favorites with positive and negative spreads, respectively, is a way that oddsmakers “even” the playing field, giving bettors who favor a surprising underdog a better chance at winning their wagers.

Betting the point spread requires you to decide if the favorite in the game is capable of winning by more than the spread number, or if the underdog will be able to beat the spread and either lose by fewer points or win outright over the favorite.

Typically with a point spread, the odds will be around -110 for both teams because of the way the spread makes the game a bit more even for both sides.

Popular NCAA bets

Like the NFL, the main bets for college football games are moneylines and point spreads. Bettors do, however, tend to play with parlays a bit more for college football wagers than they do the pros.

The NCAA can be a bit more volatile than the NFL when it comes to the underdog winning games, though some games are almost certain to go the way of the favorite (think Toledo Rockets versus Ohio State Buckeyes, for example). Sure, there might be a scenario in which the underdog surprises the favorite, but the odds are stacked against that team for a good reason.

Because of that lopsidedness, parlay bets can be a tad bit more predictable than they are in other sports or even the NFL.

Pros and cons of NFL betting

As it is with any type of wagering, there are pros and cons to betting on the NFL. First and foremost, it is important to keep in mind that you should never wager money that you can’t afford to lose. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel as though you must bet to make up for losses, you should cease betting and reach out for help.

The biggest pro of NFL betting is the fact that there is so much attention on the league that it makes it easy to find as much data and news as you could possibly want. Media outlets focus on the NFL. Websites across the internet are dedicated specifically to the league, games and players. And the amount of money that advertisers, fans and bettors are spending ensures that there will be no shortage of information in the near future. Because of that availability of information, you can research games as in-depth as you like. That amount of data helps you make far more informed decisions and helps solidify your betting strategy each week.

There are cons, however, such as how evenly matched many NFL teams are and the fact that upsets happen on a weekly basis. Additionally, oddsmakers have just as much data as you do and are very precise with their lines. It’s hard to find value in many NFL games because of the details that oddsmakers have at their disposal.

Pros and cons of NCAAF betting

College football betting can be a lot of fun, especially if you’re looking for games that are going to offer more surprises than the NFL’s more evenly matched teams. The biggest pro to betting on college football is the fact that there can be a lot more value in many of the games than in the NFL ranks. The sheer number of college teams that play football in the United States means it is very difficult for sportsbooks to thoroughly investigate each and every game.

Because of that, you can usually find sports betting lines that are beneficial to your betting strategy and bankroll management. The key to getting the most potential return for your NCAAF wagers is to do plenty of line shopping at the various legal online sportsbooks available to you. Find the best odds, and you may find yourself doing quite well in comparison to many NFL bettors.

That lack of in-depth breakdown for some NCAA games can also be a detriment, however. Underdogs that don’t get a lot of media attention can surprise favorites, and it happens fairly often in the college ranks. It’s important to make sure you gather as much information about each team before you start making wagers. If you can’t find an appropriate amount of data to make an informed decision, then you should not place the bet.

Smart bettors who stay in the hobby the longest are the ones who don’t make gut-feeling wagers. Instead, they do significant research to nail down the most likely outcomes.