7 Mistakes College Football Bettors Make Every Week

NCAA Football Betting Mistakes

If you can think of a mistake that someone can make betting on college football, the odds are high that I’ve made the mistake.

I started betting on NCAA football in the 1980’s, so I’ve had plenty of time to make costly mistakes. In hopes of helping you avoid making some of the same costly mistakes that I’ve made, I’m going to share the seven worst college football betting mistakes that I’ve made.

Sometimes the only way to learn is through direct experience, but sometimes you can learn from other people. So try to avoid these seven NCAA football betting mistakes.

1. Misusing the Moneyline

I used to make this mistake, so don’t worry if you fall into these traps. But you have to stop falling into the moneyline college football trap.

I used to look at the top teams on the schedule each week and place bets on these teams of the moneyline. Examples of teams over recent years that were usually heavy favorites include Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and Oklahoma.

The problem with betting on teams that are heavy favorites on the moneyline is you’re forced to risk a large amount of money for a small return. With this strategy, you can make a small overall profit, but a single upset puts a large loss on the books.

For example:
If you have to bet $5,000 or $5,500 to win $100, how many games do you have to win to make up for a single loss? You have to win 50 or 55 bets in a row just to break even from a single loss. I know that you look at some of these games and don’t see any way a heavy favorite can lose, but every season a heavy favorite or two do lose.

Finding value on the moneyline is an important tool for college football bettors, but most true value is found on games where the moneyline is closer to even. Rarely do I find value on any moneyline that’s at – 500 or higher. But I do find value on a few plus moneylines that are higher than 500.

2. Not Handicapping Totals

Most college football gamblers get started by betting on point spreads. And I still make a large percentage of my profits betting on point spreads in NCAA football. But you have to use every tool you can to maximize your profit, which includes handicapping totals.

Totals are also called over under lines, and you bet on the total combined score of both teams. For example, if the total or over under is 61, you can bet on the under and win if the teams combined for 60 points or less, or bet on the over and win if the teams combine to score 62 points or more.

It can be tricky betting on totals because most bettors tend to bet the under with two good defenses and bet the over with two good offenses, but there’s rarely value in these situations.

If there is value, the value is almost always on the side that the public doesn’t think value is on.

So when you see two good offenses, look at the under to see if there’s value, and with two good defenses, look at the over for value.

3. Betting on Too Many Road Teams

Once you develop a winning college football system or model, you can sometimes find value on road teams. But most gamblers bet on far too many road teams to show a profit.

On average, road teams win less often than home teams.
You can find many reasons why this is true, but the statistics show it’s true every year in college football. Of course, when Alabama plays on the road, they usually win, but a team is far more likely to play below their average ability on the road than at home.

Until you have a solid track record of making a profit with your system, focus on finding home teams that offer value when you bet on college football games.

4. Betting on Too Many Favorites

Most college football gamblers pick a favorite, give the points, and root for the team to cover the spread. Of course, you can find value in some games on the favorite team, but in most of the games where I find value, the value is on the team getting the points, not on the favorite.

It might seem like a simple thing, but never forget that when you bet on a favorite, the team not only has to win the game but the team also has to win the game by a minimum number of points. On the other side, when you bet on the team getting points, you win the bet if the team wins, and when the team loses but still covers the spread.

Your goal is to find value wherever you can find it, but when you’re learning how to make a profit try to focus on the teams getting the points. Just because a team is getting a lot of points doesn’t mean there’s value. On the other hand, sometimes a team only getting a few points is a good value, especially if your handicapping shows they have a good chance to win the game outright.

5. Not Tracking Drive Killing Plays

Certain things that happen in football kill drives. When the offense commits a penalty, the team is much less likely to get a first down on the drive. When a team takes a sack, it reduces their odds of getting a first down.

And, of course, when a team commits a turnover, it kills the drive.

You need to track how many drive-killing plays every offense has that you handicap and how many drive-killing plays every defense creates.

Teams that play with a lot of discipline and don’t commit penalties don’t put their team in a hole or make their team play behind the sticks. But, on the other hand, an offense that commits a lot of penalties or that takes a lot of sacks is always putting extra pressure on them.

A few teams seem to be able to overcome some drive-killing plays, but I’ll usually take a team that has fewer drive-killing plays than a team that commits too many mistakes.

6. Ignoring Defensive Handicapping

One thing that every winning college football gambler has in common is they handicap every area of the game. They handicap offenses, defenses, special teams, and coaching. They know that everything is important if they want to find value and that the only way to make a profit is by focusing on value.

Please Note:
I handicap the offense for every team that I evaluate, but I also handicap the other areas, and spend as much time on defense as I do on offense.

In college football, the defense can dominate a game. A great defense in the NFL can help their team win, but they rarely can win a game without the offense. But a few teams in college football have defenses that are so good that they can win even if the offense is poor.

Every game you handicap has an offense and defense for each team.

Therefore, you have to evaluate both offenses against both defenses if you’re going to do a complete evaluation.

7. Failing to Handicap Previous Competition Level

Every college football season, there are some teams that win their first several games and look like great teams. And when these teams start playing in their league, they look terrible. The reason for this is because they play teams that are much worse than them early in the season, but when they start playing better teams, they struggle.

You have to take a close look at the level of competition, especially early in the season, for every team. The true powers, like Alabama and Ohio State, are probably going to continue playing well when they start conference play.

But many weaker teams in big conferences tend to look good against weak competition and struggle when they start playing better teams. So the main thing you need to remember is not to overvalue results when teams play weak competition.


The list of mistakes you can make when you handicap college football games is long, and it usually costs you money when you make a mistake. One of the best ways to get better results betting on NCAA football is to identify mistakes so you can learn from them and eliminate them.

I’ve made the seven mistakes listed in this post, and they’ve each cost me money.

Now you can learn from my mistakes to save money. The worst mistake most college football gamblers make is using the moneyline wrong. If you avoid the moneyline mistake, it will save you a great deal of money.

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Rex Hoffman / Author

Rex Hoffman is a passionate sports writer, with over five years of experience covering sports journalism in line with the Vegas betting landscape. His favorite subjects include football, basketball, and baseball. As a Las Vegas resident, he enjoys finding an edge against the local sportsbooks and aims to share his extensive knowledge with both beginners and experienced bettors. Rex also dabbles in horse racing wagering and enjoys typical casino fare like blackjack and poker in his spare time.

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