College football has been around since the late 19th century, with the first college football game taking place in 1869. The participants were Rutgers University and the College of New Jersey, which we now know as the prestigious Princeton University.
However, it wasn’t until 1939 that college football saw its first rankings, thanks to the release of the Associated Press poll. Much later, in 1998, the Bowl Championship Series rankings would follow and, in 2014, the College Football Playoff rankings.
The rules for the game were first set out in writing in 1876. This took place in Springfield, Massachusetts, and representatives from Columbia, Harvard, Yale and Princeton universities all had a hand in this, helping to shape a game many people are passionate about today.
This post is a look at the growth and popularity of this sport, one which people consider a final step up to the NFL, and also offers some discussion around betting on the sport.
Table of Contents
A highly popular sport
The NFL is immensely popular, but college enjoys a high level of popularity as well. Results from a survey of 2,200 respondents in June 2020, published on the website of consumer marketing and data company Statista, found that 21% of these people described themselves as “avid fans” of college football and 33% as “casual fans.”
Not only this, but other Statista data reveals that some people would rather watch college football than NFL on TV. Results from a survey of 2,021 respondents showed this to be the case for 21% of the people who took part.
To give an idea of viewing figures, when Notre Dame and Alabama dispute the NCAA college semifinal on January 1, 2021, approximately 19 million viewers followed the action on their TV screens.
Supporting college football
If you’re a student, supporting the college football team is a major part of college life, and attending college games or other sporting events can make a student feel more connected to their college. The association with a college football team can create a sense of pride, and the prestige or status of a team, not to mention its general quality, may even influence a student’s decision about where they wish to study.
A significant part of the college football fanbase comes from non-students, however. Several states in the US don’t have a sports team in a major league, and college football steps into this void. For some, it’s their only option when it comes to watching live team sports.
But college football doesn’t just attract wider communities. Plenty of celebrities are keen supporters of college football teams.
Actor Russell Crowe is a fan of the Michigan Wolverines; fellow thespian Will Ferrell gets behind the University of Southern California (USC) Trojans; the developers of smash-hit adult cartoon “South Park”, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, cheer on Colorado; and “The Office” actress Angele Kinsey supports the Southern Methodist University (SMU) Mustangs.
In fact, even former president Barack Obama has been known to follow the action and pick a “bracket” when the March Madness rolls around. This process is part of the appeal of college football and attracts people who aren’t regular fans of the sport. After picking their bracket, they then try to predict how the tournament will play out.
Betting on college football
Naturally, betting and sport have long gone hand in hand, although in the case of college games there have been more restrictions on betting, in a bid to preserve the integrity of the sport.
The ruling of the Supreme Court that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act violated the 10th amendment of the U.S Constitution, however, has had a major influence on gaming in the country and has paved the way for sports betting, including college football.
When it comes to betting on college games, it’s possible to bet in a variety of different ways. Punters can place more traditional style bets, such as moneyline bets, spread bets or over/under totals bets; or they can choose player or game props bets, which are on slightly more obscure aspects of the game, rather than the result; or they can even bet on future events, such as the winner of the next season’s National Championships. Players who are feeling very confident, you may wish to place a parlay bet, which involves betting on the results of different games all as part of one larger bet.
Restrictions on college football betting
That being said… states haven’t all given gamblers free reign to bet on college games. Several states, such as New York, Arkansas, Rhode Island, New Mexico and Delaware prohibit betting on any games involving in-state college teams. Even New Jersey, which has a liberal attitude towards gaming, draws the line at betting on games that involve in-state teams and also at wagering on collegiate events that are taking place within the state, refusing to allow both.
Amongst the states which have displayed more tolerance when it comes to college football betting, you’ll find Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Mississippi and Michigan. Incidentally, the Michigan team the Wolverines boast the most college football wins in history, so if you’re a fan of college football betting and study their track record throughout the ages, you might feel your money is good on them.
College football offers excitement and opportunities to bet and to enjoy live sport. The sport captures the attention of students and nonstudents, and since college football, in the eyes of many, is the final step before the NFL, you can view future stars early and follow their rise into the big league.