College football teams play just once a week, with the average team playing a regular season comprising 12 games. If a team performs well, they qualify for a bowl game.
Since there’s plenty of time between games, you’ll witness lots of odds movement — and with college football being followed religiously across the US, you know you’ll be in for fast and furious sports betting action.
Read as we offer an in-depth guide on how to bet on college football in the US.
Shop till you drop
The most profitable and powerful words in all of sports betting are line shopping. This doesn’t change just because we’re not betting on pro sports. You should take a few moments with every bet and find where you’re going to get the best odds. With online betting sites being easily accessible, this shouldn’t take you more than a minute for every bet.
No, you don’t have to go out and shop for a better line at tens of different books. Typically, you’ll not find better odds than what you see at the first 3 to 4 top betting sites. Plus, who would want to manage 20 different sports betting accounts?
So, pick a maximum of 3 books you love, especially those packed with the most recreational punters. Take a minute with every bet individually and find the best point spread or the best price.
It’s neither hard to do nor takes long — it’s probably the best thing you can do to improve your chances of being a successful college football punter.
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Don’t neglect the low-tier games
Let’s address this point head-on. In college football, lower-tier games are some of the best areas to look for value.
Well, there are plenty of reasons but let’s first understand the meaning behind a low-tier college football game. Simply put, these games don’t get a lot of media attention and usually happen between two smaller schools. Unfortunately, these are games you don’t normally see on ABC or ESPN during prime time on a Saturday night.
Instead, you have to buy a special college football cable package to watch these games. We believe you know what we’re talking about, but we just want to be sure and thorough.
You won’t find easily-accessible information
This is one of the negatives that we want you to be aware of when betting on these smaller games. The amount of information available to assess value and make your predictions will be considerably limited.
Big schools like Florida, Clemson, and Alabama have a lot of information on their players, teams, history, etc. In addition, most of their games are nationally televised, making it easier to find game footage.
But when was the last time you saw a nationally televised Central Michigan game? Or how about a Buffalo Bulls game? The mighty Idaho Vandals? Miami of Ohio? Chances are, it’s the first time you’re even hearing some of these names, right? Now think about how difficult it would be to get information on these teams.
While this will make your life more difficult, it won’t be impossible. Remember, if betting were a piece of cake, everyone would be making money. Selecting a small conference that includes a lot of teams is probably the best way to bet on college football.
Finding a cable package that’ll let you watch every game for a conference is easy. While this is going to be more work than just reading the opinions of other people on a game, it’ll allow you to become familiar with every team and make your own predictions:
- Do you think the sharps setting the lines for an Alabama game are watching each and every game? Nope!
- Do you think the sharps setting the lines for these games are watching each and every game? Nope!
You’ll be one step ahead of the game straight away. According to the stats, most of these must be available somewhere on the internet. Begin with the school’s site and then review some odd centers across the web.
While the data is out there, it might take you some extra time to get your hands on it. If you can’t spare a few minutes for research, you’re not in the right business.
The lack of information can be seen as both a positive and a negative. When information isn’t readily available, most people won’t try to seek it out, which helps you stay one step ahead.
Plus, you’ll be ahead of every sportsbook that has employed inexperienced workers to set a line. Since you’ll be the expert, you’ll have a greater chance of coming out on top in the sports betting world.
The books don’t care much about them
When it comes to setting their lines, online betting sites don’t have a lot of resources. They have a certain number of technological resources and employees that they allocate accordingly to their sports betting markets.
Since online betting sites don’t have an unlimited number of people that could work on finding the perfect lines, they have to decide where to allocate their resources and people for the best results.
For example, if you were the owner of a betting website, where would you allocate your best resources and sharpest, smartest people? You have a couple of choices:
- Allocate the majority of your resources to the low-tier games where people won’t place a lot of bets
- Allocate the majority of your resources to the big games where people will be making a ton of bets
If you’re smart, you’ll go with the second option. Less skilled or experienced employees can oversee low-tier games.
Well, it’s simple—even if you do a blunder, you won’t be losing as much money. However, if you put out a bad line with a big game, the other side will make a lot of money.
The owners of online betting sites don’t want to take this risk and therefore, dedicate less time and resources to games that don’t hold much importance. This means, there’s a decent possibility of seeing bad lines on low-tier games.
“The probability of finding incorrect lines increases considerably. If you can identify games like these, you’ll be making a lot of money.”
Small games don’t have big sports betting markets, making it easier to cause more severe (and frequent) line shifts. If you can predict how and when the lines will move, you’ll find a lot of value. Every inch of value helps, and finding opportunities in these smaller cap games is a lot easier.
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Specialize in a specific conference
Can’t bet on all games under the sun? No issues. Select a conference to specialize in. Choose a conference that you’re already familiar with or enjoy watching.
If you sit back and bet only on big games, you’ll have a hard time finding value. Lines for high-profile games are often hit a lot harder by the sharps.
However, if you choose a conference with games across the board, you’ll find many incredible value opportunities. Specialization will make you an expert, resulting in greater profits.
Gain expertise in a specific conference. If you master a conference, you may continue exploring further. However, until you consistently beat a specific conference, there’s no reason for you to spread yourself even thinner.
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Don’t bet the full spectrum of games
Well, this can be pretty tempting, no? There are hundreds of different bets and games to choose from every week in college football — and wagering on the entire schedule can be tempting.
You can’t win what you don’t put in play, correct? Wrong. In fact, this is probably the worst gambling cliché piece of advice ever.
“If you don’t care about turning a profit and are just looking for a fun weekend, then bomb away. You’ll have some fun, that’s guaranteed. However, there’s a massive chance that you’ll lose money.”
So, what should you do? Simple, only bet on the games where you find value. Bet only on games where you think the line isn’t correct.
By doing this, you’ll be setting yourself up for success. If this means just a few games over the weekend, that’s alright.
The point is you should only bet on smart value opportunities. Don’t be that person that fires off the whole slate of games, hoping they’ll get lucky. Be careful, professionally approach your college football, and go crazy when you go to spend your winnings away from the sportsbook.
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Quickly capitalize on favorable sports betting lines
In college football, the volume of the sports betting market will be a lot smaller, especially in smaller games. This means, compared to NFL, the lines will change far more frequently. Consequently, strategically timing your bets is paramount.
If you see a favorable line, you may expect other smart punters to see it too. If the online betting website you’re betting at is riddled with sharps, that line won’t last long. You should be willing to jump on those good lines as fast as you can.
“This may need you to monitor lines a tad more aggressively than you would with other sports. If you’re looking to win, you should make some extra effort!”
Smaller volume markets have a lot of perks. Since line fluctuations are higher, you’ll have better opportunities to find value every week. Find out what line you like for a specific game and find the best line possible by comparing sportsbooks.
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Statistics can be misleading
When you’re looking at NFL statistics, there’s a lot of history you can use to your advantage.
Even if you’re reviewing the statistics of a beginner, you can view their college stats. While that’s not ideal, you at least have those numbers at your disposal if you need them.
However, in college football, you’ll typically be pulling statistics from a very small sample size. If a player is a beginner, you can only look at their high school stats. However, most high school stats are worthless for college betting due to the difference in skill level.
Everybody knows to watch total points, sacks, and touchdowns. For an added benefit, consider these stats too:
- Pressure Rate
- Early-Down Pass Success Rate
- Explosive Play Rate
- Over/Under Percentage
- ATS (Against the Spread) Percentage
Here’s the problem that most people ignore. Sometimes, stats sites won’t indicate that the stats are coming from a small sample size.
Take an example of a sports betting system that hinges on the yards per rush of a running back. If you’re pulling data from just one game, how good are the stats going to be?
Alt-text: a woman wins an online bet
From a stats point of view, they’ll be worthless. All players have good and bad games, especially their initial games when they’re playing on a bigger stage.
You should take away two points from this: first, ensure that the stats you’re using to place your bets are coming from a sufficient sample size. In this context, 2-3 games aren’t really sufficient. Second, ensure that these stats are from comparable opponents.
There’s a big difference in the skill level of teams in college football. If a player has fantastic numbers, but most of them are against smaller schools, those numbers don’t reflect the true skill of that player. This is like using a player’s high school stats to decide if they’ll perform at a college game.
“If you’re looking to make college football betting picks, use stats. However, using the right stats from a sufficient sample size is important.”
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Understand how it’s different from the NFL
Many college football bettors didn’t start betting on college. In fact, most of them began betting on NFL and then successfully made the transition to betting on college football on Saturdays. However, for each of these NFL bettors that have been successful in making the transition, there was a massive slew that failed miserably.
For the majority of them, it was the inability to adapt to the differences between the two leagues.
Paying attention to details is important if you want to transition from betting on the NFL to betting on college football. College football and the NFL aren’t the same. While they’re playing the same sport, and the points are scored the same way, the things you have to consider when betting on college football are considerably different.
Let’s begin by looking at some of the ways that NCAAF (college football) and the NFL are different.
The importance of intangibles increases
There are a lot of professionals in the NFL. On the other hand, college football is packed with players who may still be living at their parent’s houses. This means a game’s intangibles are going to play a more critical role in college football than they do with the NFL.
For instance, a big game in the NFL may not impact a team or players much. However, many players have faced the grand stage before. A regular Sunday game isn’t very different from a Monday Night Football game.
While it’s different and must be considered when betting on college football, the difference between the two stages isn’t as great as in our next example:
In college football, some players are used to playing in front of 200 people on a Friday night. Now they’re about to play in front of NFL scouts, TV cameras, and over 90,000 people. If you think this won’t affect how some players play, think again.
This is just one of many examples of the intangibles that we’re referring to. You need to consider everything that occurs in a game and how it may affect the players. Emotions will run a lot higher. These aren’t professionals with years of experience, and they may find it extremely difficult to handle this.
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Smaller sports betting pool
Compared to NFL games, the amount of money being bet on college football is way too less. Even if the total money was the same, the amount on every individual game would be far too less. This is because in college football, there are simply more games to bet on.
But what’s in it for you? Well, this means, compared to the NFL, the lines will be way too volatile. If a line moves a full point in the NFL, that’s a big deal — a big movement. However, in college football, lines regularly move 3 to 4 (or even more) points.
This is due to the lower sports betting volume. While a bet size may do nothing to the line in the NFL, it may have a dramatic change on a college football betting line at a specific sportsbook.
Due to lesser sports betting volume on college football games, you’re likely to see more volatile and fluid sports betting lines.
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Be ready for some game spreads — but double-check them for typos. Seeing a spread of more than 10 points is massive in college football. Seeing a spread of more than 40 to 50 isn’t a big deal in the NFL.
College football has so many teams that you may end up with a number of horrible mismatches. For example, you may have a team struggling to beat some high schools playing against an NFL-caliber team.
But why is this important? Well, because we don’t want you to be surprised the first time you look at college football lines. Plus, you shouldn’t be afraid of looking at these games for value.
Bettors usually stay away from these games. However, they’re not much different from a game with a spread of only a few points. In fact, larger spreads leave more room for bad lines and errors, which means you’ll have lots of opportunities.
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