If there’s one thing college football fans in Illinois look forward to more than the regular season, it’s the bowl games. From the Rose Bowl to the Orange Bowl and all games in between, Illinois sports bettors will flock to the state’s legal sportsbooks to lay their money down.
How are teams selected to play in college bowl games? How many bowl games are there every year? How are bowl game betting lines and odds set in Illinois? We have the answers to those questions and more in our guide to college bowl game betting in the Land of Lincoln.
See below for the latest live lines at Illinois online sportsbooks for 2020-21 NCAA football bowl games. Click the odds for the game of your choice to go directly to the sportsbook, claim the listed bonus and register a new account. Use the drop-down menu to change between point spreads, moneylines and totals odds.
Here’s a list of all the bowl games for the 2020-21 season with their location, time and where they will be broadcast, as well as which conferences, pool teams or at-large bids are involved. Please note that all times are Eastern.
|Jan. 1||Rose Bowl||Pasadena, CA||5:00 PM||ESPN||No. 4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10–1)
No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (11–0)
|Jan. 1||Sugar Bowl||New Orleans, LA||8:45 PM||ESPN||No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes (6–0)
No. 2 Clemson Tigers (10–1)
|Jan. 11||National Championship||Miami Gardens, FL||8:00 PM||ESPN||No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes (7–0) vs. No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (11–0)r|
|Dec. 30||Cotton Bowl||Arlington, TX||7:15 PM||ESPN||No. 6 Oklahoma Sooners (8–2)
No. 7 Florida Gators (8–3)
|Jan. 1||Peach Bowl||Atlanta, GA||12:30 PM||ESPN||No. 8 Cincinnati Bearcats (9–0)
No. 9 Georgia Bulldogs (7–2)
|Jan. 2||Orange Bowl||Miami Gardens, FL||8:00 PM||ESPN||No. 5 Texas A&M Aggies (8–1)
No. 13 North Carolina Tar Heels (8–3)
|Jan. 2||Fiesta Bowl||Glendale, AZ||4:00 PM||ESPN||No. 25 Oregon Ducks (4–2)
No. 10 Iowa State Cyclones (8–3)
|Dec. 21||Myrtle Beach Bowl||Conway, SC||2:30 PM||ESPN||Appalachian State Mountaineers (8–3)
North Texas Mean Green (4–5)
|Dec. 22||Famous Idaho Potato Bowl||Boise, ID||3:30 PM||ESPN||Nevada Wolf Pack (6–2)
Tulane Green Wave (6–5)
|Dec. 22||Boca Raton Bowl||Boca Raton, FL||7:00 PM||ESPN||UCF Knights (6–3)
BYU Cougars (10–1)
|Dec. 23||New Orleans Bowl||New Orleans, LA||3:30 PM||ESPN||Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (5–4)
Georgia Southern Eagles (7–5)
|Dec. 23||Montgomery Bowl||Montgomery, AL||7:00 PM||ESPN/ESPN2||Florida Atlantic Owls (5–3)
Memphis Tigers (7–3)
|Dec. 24||New Mexico Bowl||Albuquerque, NM||3:30 PM||ESPN||Houston Cougars (3–4)
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (4–4)
|Dec. 25||Camellia Bowl||Montgomery, AL||2:30 PM||ESPN||Buffalo Bulls (5–1)
Marshall Thundering Herd (7–2)
|Dec. 26||Cure Bowl||Orlando, FL||12:00 PM||ESPN||Liberty Flames (9–1)
No. 12 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (11–0)
|Dec. 26||Lending Tree Bowl||Mobile, AL||3:30 PM||ESPN||Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (5–6)
Georgia State Panthers (5–4)
|Dec. 26||First Responder Bowl||Dallas, TX||3:30 PM||ABC||No. 19 Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns (9–1)
UTSA Roadrunners (7–4)
|Dec. 29||Cheez-It Bowl||Phoenix, AZ||5:30 PM||ESPN||No. 21 Oklahoma State Cowboys (7–3)
No. 18 Miami Hurricanes (8–2)
|Dec. 29||Alamo Bowl||San Antonio, TX||9:00 PM||ESPN||No. 20 Texas Longhorns (6–3)
Colorado Buffaloes (4–1)
|Dec. 30||Duke's Mayo Bowl||Charlotte, NC||12:00 PM||ESPN||Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4–4)
Wisconsin Badgers (3–3)
|Dec. 30||Music City Bowl||Nashville, TN||3:30 PM||ESPN||No. 15 Iowa Hawkeyes (6–2)
Missouri Tigers (5–5)
|Dec. 31||Armed Forces Bowl||Fort Worth, TX||12:00 PM||ESPN||No. 24 Tulsa Golden Hurricane (6–2)
Mississippi State Bulldogs (3–7)
|Dec. 31||Liberty Bowl||Memphis, TN||4:00 PM||ESPN||West Virginia Mountaineers (5–4)
Army Black Knights (9–2)
|Dec. 31||Arizona Bowl||Tucson, AZ||4:00 PM||CBSSN||Ball State Cardinals (6–1)
No. 22 San Jose State Spartans (7–0)
|Dec. 31||Texas Bowl||Houston TX||8:00 PM||ESPN||Arkansas Razorbacks (3–7)
TCU Horned Frogs (6–4)
|Jan. 1||Citrus Bowl||Orlando, FL||1:00 PM||ABC||Auburn Tigers (6–4)
No. 14 Northwestern Wildcats (6–2)
|Jan. 2||Gator Bowl||Jacksonville, FL||12:00 PM||ESPN||No. 23 NC State Wolfpack (8–3)
Kentucky Wildcats (4–6)
|Jan. 2||Outback Bowl||Tampa, FL||12:30 PM||ABC||Ole Miss Rebels (4–5)
No. 11 Indiana Hoosiers (6–1)
For sports bettors and college football fans, there aren’t many days that are better than a Saturday during the season, and it all leads up to the most exciting time of year: bowl games.
You’re free to place bets at legal sportsbooks on nearly any college football bowl game in Illinois. The only stipulation in the state is you cannot legally bet on Illinois NCAA teams. So, this means if the University of Illinois Fighting Illini or the Northwestern Wildcats earn a coveted place in one of the postseason games, Illinois bettors cannot legally bet on them. This rule goes for all collegiate athletic programs within the state.
When it comes time to place a bet on the NCAAF bowl game of your choice, you’ll need to have an account at an Illinois online sportsbook.
First, you need to click the link on this page to head to the online sportsbook. There, you can claim your free bets and download the app of the sportsbook of your choice. Be it DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook or one of the other many legal betting apps in Illinois, you’ll need it on your phone to bet.
To download the app for either Apple or Android devices, follow the prompts on the online sportsbook for your device. The app will need permission from you to use your phone’s geolocation software, which is a requirement for the apps to work correctly.
Next, you’ll need to create an IL betting account. No matter which sportsbook you choose, the process is similar. You will find and click on the “sign up” or “register” button on the home screen.
From there, you’ll need to provide details such as your name, birth date, address, phone number and the last four digits of your Social Security number. You’ll also need to read the terms and conditions and accept them before completing registration.
You’ll want to make sure to take advantage of any free bets or deposit bonuses that come with being a newly registered user at the sportsbook. There are almost always incentives available, so make sure you seek them out and take advantage. Many of them you’ll be able to find right here on our website, and many of those are exclusive to our readers.
Keep in mind that each bonus or free bet offer has wagering requirements, and you’ll want to read the terms and conditions before making any wagers.
You’ll then have to make your first deposit. Your options for depositing at a legal sportsbook can include using a bank transfer, a debit card, a cash deposit at a retail location or an e-wallet.
After that, it’s all about placing your bets. The process is simple: Find what you want to wager on and click on it. Choose the bet type you want and how much you’d like to wager, and it will ask you to confirm your choices. Once you do, your bet will appear on your bet slip in the app. Confirm your wagers and then you’ve officially placed a bet.
College football has many of the same betting opportunities as other sports, especially its professional counterpart in the NFL.
There are many kinds of bets you can choose from for college football, and the most common are known throughout the realm of sports and NFL betting. Moneylines, point spreads, totals, parlays, prop bets, futures and live betting are standard options at Illinois sportsbooks.
Moneyline bets are the most straightforward of wagers. You simply pick the team you think will win the game. Teams that are favored have negative odds, while underdogs have positive odds. Here’s an example:
|Ohio State -220|
As you can see, Ohio State is expected to win the matchup, and a bet on that side would require you to stake $220 in order to win $100 if you’re right. A bet on Michigan, however, would net you a $110 win on a $100 bet.
Point spreads require you to take an estimated margin of victory into account. The favorite must win by more points than the line indicates, while the underdog can lose by fewer and still have bets on that side win. Here’s an example:
|Nebraska +7.5 (-110)|
|Michigan State -7.5 (-110)|
In this example, you’ll see that Nebraska is the underdog and Michigan State the favorite, with a line of 7.5 points. For a wager on Nebraska to win, you would need the Cornhuskers to lose by seven points or fewer, or to win outright. Michigan State, meanwhile, must win by eight points or more.
Totals bets are also known as over/under wagers. Oddsmakers set a line for the total score in a game. You then decide if you think the total will be over or under the projected total. You don’t have to pick the winner; just decide if the two teams can or cannot score as many points as oddsmakers are projecting.
For a fictional game between Iowa State and Wisconsin, a sportsbook may list the following college bowl game odds:
|Over 55.5 (-110)|
|Under 55.5 (-110)|
If the two teams combine for 55 points or fewer, bets on the under would win. Fifty-six points or more, and bets on the over would have been the correct picks.
Parlays are when you make two or more bets on the same slip, and you have to get each selection correct in order to get a payout.
For example, if you went with moneyline bets and chose Michigan to beat Ohio State, Michigan State to lose to Nebraska and Wisconsin to beat Iowa State, you’d win a nice sum of money if all of those were correct. The rewards are much higher on a parlay, but the risks are high as well. One missed pick, and the entire slip is a loss.
Prop bets are what you might think of as “side bets.” For example, there might be a prop bet for which player will score the first touchdown, or which team will lead after three quarters, or even what color Gatorade will be dumped on the winning coach. These bets will vary by sportsbook and by the popularity of the game being played. For example, Super Bowl betting carries with it a litany of prop bets.
Futures bets are wagers you make on something that will potentially happen, such as picking a player to win the Heisman Trophy or the college football national championship winner. The odds for each of these will fluctuate as the season rolls along.
Live betting, also known as in game betting, is an option typically available only on online sportsbooks and betting apps. These are bets that you make during the game, and they are usually focused on game-day performances on the field. You can make these wagers during the game, and the odds are constantly shifting depending on the events during the game.
The 2020-21 college football national championship will be at Miami Gardens, FL, at Hard Rock Stadium on Jan. 11. Until then, here’s some additional information regarding the championship game:
There is no time of the year more packed with amazing football than New Year’s, especially when six of the best games will be played between Dec. 30 and Jan. 2. These games, referred to as the New Year’s Six, are the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Peach Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Orange Bowl.
Of the New Year’s Six games, two of them act as the semifinal games for the College Football Playoff. For 2021, those two games are the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl. The bowls rotate to be the hosts of the semifinal games, which is set on a three-year cycle with these pairings: Rose/Sugar, Orange/Cotton and Fiesta/Peach.
These six bowl games all have their matchups decided by the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, which seeds and pairs the top four teams to play in the two semifinal bowl games, and then seeds and pairs the remaining New Year’s Six games. Since the beginning of the College Football Playoff (2014), there have been 72 teams that have participated in a New Year’s Six game, and only eight have been ranked lower than No. 12.
The 12 teams selected for the six games must include the champions of the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC, as well as the highest-ranked champion from the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt.
Every season, the College Football Playoff selection committee is tasked with ranking, seeding and determining the matchups for the semifinal games. Typically, the focus is on the 12 highest-ranked teams in the country, with the top four earning a berth to the College Football Playoff.
In 2020, the top four teams have remained mostly steady with Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Ohio State earning the most votes in the Associated Press poll. The CFP Selection Committee is not required to follow any other polls in determining its ranking or seedings.
College football coaches are sometimes hired away by other teams before bowl games are played. That means some schools will send their football programs into the final game of the year with an interim head coach. Make sure to keep up on all the news before placing your bets because a change that drastic can shake things up for a team.
The biggest names in college football may choose to not play in their school’s bowl game, especially if their team isn’t in the running for the national championship. These players are typically expecting to be high NFL draft picks and are trying to avoid an injury. But don’t fret too much. Even the best players at the collegiate level typically have competent backups, and the remainder of the team will still likely be playing.
Bowl games are strange beasts in that motivation isn’t always going to be present for a team, especially one that fell short of its expectations heading into the postseason.
In 2018, of the 39 bowl games that were played and completed (one was not completed due to weather), the favorite won and covered the point spread or the underdog won outright in 34 of the games. In 2017, that was the case in 36 of the 40 bowl games.
So, if you think an underdog can cover the point spread, consider laying some money down on that team on the moneyline, as well.
College bowl games have weird names, and we’re not just talking about Sugar, Orange, Fiesta or Rose. We’re talking the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl, or the Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl or the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl.
The bowl game names are constantly in flux because of sponsorships, so you’re going to see new names all the time. But the games themselves are always going to be coveted events where NCAA football players get one more chance at a victory before their season ends.
The teams most likely to win in the postseason are the same teams that put together strong finishes to their season. Did they go on a run and win their conference? Did they pick up a series of wins before the season came to a close? Did they step up and play their best games against tougher opponents at the end of the season but didn’t necessarily win?
Look for those teams that didn’t back down in the tough games, that won the games they weren’t expected to win and that ran the table. Those teams are more likely to bring plenty to their respective bowl games.
During the regular season, you can usually find point spreads and other matchup odds for upcoming games as early as the prior Sunday morning. Those lines are all determined by oddsmakers who take in the Saturday action before setting the odds.
Bowl games are slightly different. Those lines are usually released soon after the matchups for standalone bowls are announced. Games for the College Football Playoff will have their odds up soon after the four participating teams and their matchups are announced. Then, again for the national championship once the semifinal games are in the books.
Once all of the games are over, you can jump right into the futures betting market. Within hours of the national championship game concluding, oddsmakers release the futures betting odds on the next NCAA football champion.