Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

College Football Parlays: Betting tips, strategies and more

Parlays are one of the most potentially lucrative options available for college football betting. Wagering a dollar or two on a parlay can yield thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, making them an appealing option to bettors. Let’s take a look at college football parlays and their applicability to college football betting.

What is a parlay?

A parlay is a bet that ties together two or more individual wagers to increase the payout of a win. Generally, a bettor can put up to 10 teams together in a parlay, essentially giving themselves a lottery-type payout if they end up winning. The more teams added onto a parlay increases the potential profit you stand to make, but it also makes it much easier to lose.

Whereas a straight wager is a simple win or lose, you need to hit every leg of a parlay to cash your ticket. For example, let’s say you’re looking to turn a few dollars into a few thousand bucks. You pour over the CFB odds to find the best bets on the board, and you end up with nine plays that you think stand a good chance of winning. For you to cash your ticket and make that dream a reality, you will need to go a perfect 9-0. Going 7-2 or 8-1 is impressive, but it won’t get you any more than a “good job” or a shrug of the shoulders on your college football parlay.

When you are betting on parlays, it’s also important to check and see what the sportsbook or casino does in the event of a tie. At some sportsbooks, a tie results in a loss or a push on your bet, while at others a tie hurts far less and simply knocks the payout down to the next rung. In this instance, if you put together an eight-team parlay and seven teams are winners on the NCAAF betting line while one team pushes, that means your parlay will drop down to pay out at the payout rate for seven teams.

Payout rates

For regular parlays, most sportsbooks will multiply together the current price of every leg of your parlay to determine your potential payout. That means stringing together a lot of bets that are high juice per the CFB betting odds will substantially lower your potential payout, but it will increase your chances of winning.

Keep in mind that there is a difference between regular parlays and parlay cards. On a parlay card, you are given a list of games with numbers on the spread and the total, and you put together your parlay from that list. These are very prevalent when it comes to NFL betting, but they are starting to see some traction in terms of betting on college football as well. Below is a small brief on the intricacies of parlay cards from online sportsbook BetDSI:

Parlay cards

The main advantage of playing parlay cards versus making a regular parlay is that once posted, all parlay card odds do not change, so you’ll often find better point spreads than the ones posted on the board.

Parlay Payouts

# Regular

3 +550

4 +1000

5 +2000

6 +4000

7 +8000

8 +15000

9 +30000

10 +60000

Minimum Wager: $1 Maximum Wager: $5,000 Maximum Payout: $150,000

Not everything can be parlayed. Since parlays have such high potential payouts, sportsbooks only allow certain types of bets to be included in a parlay. Moneyline wagers, straight wagers (bets on the point spread), and over/under wagers (bets on the total) are generally the only types of bets that sportsbooks allow to be used in a college football parlay bet. Those markets are the most accurate as they see the lion’s share of the action throughout the course of a week, while other betting options such as prop bets see much less action and have softer lines.

Why make a college football parlay bet?

The reason to make a college football parlay bet is simple, the payout. You can make a substantial amount of money out of a tiny investment with a little bit of knowledge and a lot of luck.

Who bets college football parlays?

For the most part, novice bettors are the ones that bet on parlays. Newer bettors are lured in by the high payout rates and don’t consider the true odds when it comes to betting parlays. Going 9-0 or 10-0 is very difficult, and more experienced bettors know they are better off making straight wagers most of the time.

Correlated Parlays

One way to make some moolah when it comes to college football parlays is to bet correlated parlays. A correlated parlay is where the outcomes of two bets are tied together. That means one part of the parlay is more likely to cash when the other part of the parlay comes through. Here are a few different types of correlated parlays:

First Half/Full game

This type of correlated parlay is no longer allowed at any sportsbook, but the premise here is simple. A team that has covered the spread in the first half is more likely to cover the spread at the end of the game. Favorites and underdogs alike end up covering the spread over 70 percent of the time if they covered at the end of the first half making this a highly correlated parlay.


Another type of correlated parlay is where you tie together the spread and a total of a single game. When a favorite covers the spread, the over is more likely to cash and if an underdog covers, the under is more likely to hit. This is considerably amplified for games with higher spreads too. For instance, if Ohio State is a 40-point favorite over Rice, the over is very likely to hit if the Buckeyes cover the CFB betting line. Some sportsbooks do allow you to bet the side and total of the same game if the spread is low enough though. If the spread is 30 percent of the total or more, sportsbooks are not going to allow the wager, but if it is less than 30 percent some books do allow that.

Bowl season parlay

$100 to win $550

Armed Forces Bowl, Dec. 22: Army -3.5 vs. Houston

Alamo Bowl, Dec. 28: Iowa State +3.5 vs. Washington State

Rose Bowl, Jan. 1: Ohio State -6.5 vs. Washington

At 10-2, Army is one of the most underrated teams in college football. The Black Knights took Oklahoma to overtime, and they’ve rolled through the majority of their opponents. Houston is 8-4, but the Cougars have been shaky down the stretch. They also have the No. 98 rushing defense in college football, while Army is No. 2 in rushing offense. The Black Knights should be able to control the clock and dominate the game on the ground.

Washington State has been one of the biggest surprises of the year as Mike Leach and Gardner Minshew have guided the Cougars to a 10-win season. They fell just short of reaching the Pac-12 title game after a loss to Washington. Matt Campbell has turned the Iowa State football program around, and the Cyclones are looking for their first 9-win season since 2000. Iowa State has faced several high-powered offenses like Washington State, and they’ve fared well against nearly every Big 12 offense.

Urban Meyer is coaching in one more game before he retires, and his Buckeyes will look to send him off on a positive note in the Rose Bowl against Washington. The Buckeyes won the Big 10 championship in dominating fashion over Northwestern, but they were left out of the playoff. Typically, it would be time to fade a team that was left out of the playoffs; however, the Buckeyes have something to play for since it’s Meyer’s last game. Washington won the Pac-12 title, but they haven’t played a team as talented as Ohio State all season.

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