When it comes to betting on college football, there are plenty of things that you need to take into consideration. Think about the basics like a team’s current form, injury situation, or the weather. Are you really not checking weather reports yet?
You also need to understand what each team is playing for and their relative value in the betting market. Those last two are pretty nuanced, but we’ll give you five tips to help you identify key betting situations.
Also, spoiler alert, but there are more than five tips listed below. Bonus!
So with that, here are six-and-a-half tips to help you make better picks when betting on college football:
1. Understand each team’s motivation.
This is a subtlety in college football that often gets overlooked. Is a team playing their rival? What’s on the line? Did the opposing linebacker call the quarterback’s sister a name on Instagram? Not really on that last one, but you get the point.
For (a serious) example, a mediocre program will treat a game against a top-five team like their Super Bowl. That’s especially true if it’s a home game.
Kansas State pulled off a shocker against Oklahoma early last year. The Wildcats were four-touchdown underdogs, but they came through with a surprising 38-35 victory over an Oklahoma team that was ranked third in the nation.
You could also argue that the Sooners overlooked their opponent in that situation, as they had bigger fish to fry on the horizon.
That leads us directly to the next tip.
2. Beware of teams looking to big games in the future.
There’s a human element when it comes to sports. That’s amplified when you are talking about 18-to-22-year-old kids. It’s easy to get ahead of yourself when looking at the schedule. If there’s a big matchup next Saturday and College Gameday is coming to town, you might overlook the mediocre opponent in front of you.
Coaches will try to debunk this reality with their rehearsed schtick of “we are just going to take it one game at a time”. Yes, we know you have to say that. It’s part of your job. What’s a head coach supposed to say? “We know we are going to beat Kansas by 40+ points, so I’m just looking to get our QB some Heisman stats before benching him in the second half.” It would be pretty great if coaches were actually candid like this.
Let’s take a look at an example. In a massive game for their SEC Championship and College Football Playoff aspirations, Texas A&M will host Alabama on October 9. You better believe the Aggies are going to be putting everything into that game.
However, Texas A&M will host Mississippi State the week before. A&M will likely be favored by quite a bit in that game, but there’s a chance they’ll “coast” in that matchup while trying to save their playbook and legs for the big matchup against Bama. Because of that, Mississippi State could have a chance to stay within the spread despite a substantial talent discrepancy.
You can find endless betting opportunities like this throughout the college football season.
3. Take note of the “Running Dogs” betting strategy.
This betting strategy is pretty simple, but it takes some speculation and practice to get it down. It’s an old-school betting approach called “running dogs”. No, it does not involve greyhound dogs and an artificial lure.
Here’s what the betting strategy boils down to: you are trying to find underdogs who have a legitimate chance at outrushing (more total rushing yards) their opponent.
The theory behind this strategy goes something like this: teams who have the advantage in the rushing game tend to control the tempo and overall pace. If a team is efficient at running the ball, they can run more time off the clock and shorten the game. This could really help an underdog who is at an overall talent discrepancy.
All of this would theoretically help an underdog stay within the point spread.
4. Avoid using the transitive property in betting. That’s not how it works.
Yes, the transitive property is another boring thing they taught you in school that you probably never used in your life. It’s right up there with the Pythagorean theorem. Don’t even get me started on sine, cosine, and tan! Trig is why God invented marijuana.
Anyway, here’s how the transitive property works in college football terms:
Northwestern beats Minnesota. Minnesota beats Nebraska. Therefore, Northwestern should beat Nebraska.
Sports use math, but sports are not math. It’s human beings and all their flaws and inconsistencies and variables.
This sounds simple, but even the most seasoned college football bettors fall victim to this mentality. Don’t be one of those guys who blindly falls back on this fuzzy logic. Use past performances and past games to measure analytics and tendencies and strength and weaknesses, not who beat who three weeks ago. That dog won’t hunt.
5. Try to predict point spreads and totals before they are released.
We outlined this one in the “10 Profitable and Healthy Tips For Betting on the NFL” article. It’s a terrific exercise no matter which sports you are betting on, so definitely consider getting in the habit of trying to predict the spread before viewing the lines. Remember, the lines aren’t set by what the sportsbook thinks will happen, they’re set by how the sportsbooks think people will bet and trying to maximize dollars on each side of the line.
Think of this exercise as stretching before working out. What’s that? Recent studies show that stretching before working out can actually impede your body’s performance. Well damn, there goes my analogy!
Anyway, you should get into this habit as a college football bettor. After a few weeks, you’ll start to get a feel for how certain teams are valued in the eyes of the sportsbooks. You’ll also start to get a feel for value opportunities at first glance. Of course, following through with your “due diligence” is the next step. Don’t blindly bet from this exercise, but view it as a nice screening tool to prompt further analysis.
Basically the entire article “10 Profitable and Healthy Tips For Betting on the NFL” also applies to college football betting. Reading that through the lens of an NCAA Football bettor is certainly applicable. I hear the author of that article is a cool and handsome guy.
If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is. Remember that sportsbooks are a very lucrative business. They prey on casual bettors who fall into the trap of the “it seems too obvious to miss” mentality. The sports betting operator does not have your best interests in mind. And to be fair, you are hoping to take their money too. They will not gift you any favorable lines.
Are you looking for more advice and real-time picks? Please refer to our BLS+ section. Here, we have betting tools, insider tips, and picks to help you fish in the vast oceans of NFL and college football.