The NFL is the most common starting point for football bettors. Many gamblers dream of making money on the game they enjoy watching every Sunday.
Of course, the NFL is one of the toughest leagues to beat in all of sports betting.
Therefore, some gamblers turn to college football in hopes of having an easier route to profits.
Much like the NFL, college football isn’t easy to beat either, especially when considering the high-profile games. That said, you may wonder if NCAA football is truly an easier road toward making money.
I’m going to discuss some of the keys to winning with college football betting and if it’s ultimately possible to earn consistent profits.
High Liquidity = Sharper Lines
Many sportsbooks determine their odds based on the market. In other words, they increase or decrease odds when a specific side is drawing too much action.
Here’s an example:
- Arizona -12
- Hawaii +12
- $5,600 is bet on Arizona
- $9,100 is bet on Hawaii
- The new line changes
- Arizona -11
- Hawaii +11
Contrary to popular belief, bookmakers don’t always aim to create perfect balance on each side. This goal is impossible in every market, especially the less liquid ones (e.g. table tennis, water polo).
They’re perfectly fine with an unbalanced line as long as they’re on the sharps’ (pros) side rather than against them.
However, bookmakers do try to keep the action nearly equal when they can. Such situations allow them to make guaranteed profits when the juice is factored in.
Sportsbooks have an easier time creating balanced action in a highly liquid market. The latter refers to a market that features lots of action.
The NFL is a perfect example of a highly liquid market, because most games draw countless bets each weekend.
Primetime college football games are another example. High-profile matchups like Ohio State vs. Penn State and Florida State vs. Clemson are very popular among gamblers.
You’re likely not looking to wager on Coastal Carolina every Saturday. Instead, you’re eyeing your favorite schools or at least the ones that are on TV the most.
Unfortunately, these are also the toughest lines to beat.
Sportsbooks shift odds on these matchups throughout the week depending upon how much money comes in on each side.
By the end of the week, they’ll have nearly balanced action and lines that don’t offer much value from a bettor’s perspective. That said, you’re running into a wall by continually wagering on the biggest college football games week in and week out.
The Softest Lines Are Found Outside of Power 5
Continuing on the last point, most college football bettors put their money on Power 5 matchups. These conferences include the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC.
You can find some value in these lines. This value is often featured in lesser Power 5 matchups, such as Oregon State vs. Utah. You can also get good prices when lines first come out and bookmakers don’t have perfect information.
Nevertheless, you want to look outside the big conferences when trying to find juicy bets.
Division 1A conferences, like the MAC and Sun Belt, don’t draw as much gambling action. Therefore, bookmakers don’t spend as much time crafting these lines.
I’m not saying that oddsmakers can’t still create sharp lines for non-Power 5 matchups. However, your chances of winning these bets are slightly better than when gambling on the popular schools.
Winning in College Football Isn’t Easy, but It’s Easier Than the NFL
The best thing about wagering on college football is that there are more games for bookmakers to cover. In fact, they have roughly four times as many contests to handicap in a given week.
Again, they spend the most time on high-profile games that’ll draw the most wagering action. The last thing bookmakers want to do is put out a soft line on Alabama vs. Auburn and get crushed by massive sharp bets.
You’ll find it just as difficult to beat high-profile college football games as you will the NFL. The real value comes from the less-heralded matchups.
I want to hammer home that smaller conference games can offer more value.
You can especially capitalize on these bets by becoming an expert on low-key conferences.
4 College Football Betting Tip to Help You Win More
I don’t want to make it sound like winning college football bets is a breeze. But you can certainly improve your odds of winning with the following tips.
1 – Act Quickly on Valuable Odds
The downside to the lower volume on less heralded college football games is that lines move much faster when large bets are made. Therefore, you must be quicker if you want to get value from a specific line.
Sharps can spot the very same value as you in low-profile games. They’ll likely jump on a great opportunity whenever they can. Assuming you’re not quick enough, the line will move before you can take advantage.
If you don’t have time to monitor lines all day, you can always choose a “squarebook.” These sportsbooks cater to less-educated bettors who are less likely to spot valuable lines. Squarebooks also don’t require you to be as quick to place wagers.
2 – Specialize in a Few Conferences
You might be tempted to place several bets across different conferences each Saturday. After all, college football offers a lot of tempting matches.
But if you want to win more often, then you should specialize in three or fewer conferences.
Specialization helps you avoid spreading your bets and knowledge too thin.
After all, you’re not going to develop in-depth knowledge of a half-dozen conferences within a single season. Even if you do develop this knowledge by the end of the year, many things will change going into the next season.
You don’t necessarily have to become a major fan of the Mountain West. But again, wagering on low-profile games is a great way to boost your winnings.
If you happen to be a die-hard ACC or Big Ten fan, then you can still put some money down on your favorite conference. However, you’ll have a tougher time making profits from your knowledge in these higher liquidity markets.
3 – Stats Mean Less
Stats are always helpful when betting on any type of sport. But numbers mean less in the NCAA than they do in the NFL.
The problem with college football is that it has far more changeover than the pros. Players only have a maximum of four years to play. Many athletes don’t start, or at least play a lot, until they become juniors or seniors.
You’ll still gain some value by going over stats in college football.
But you shouldn’t waste countless hours looking over statistics that will likely be very different the next season.
As a final point, college football competition has a lot more disparity than the NFL. The Oklahoma Sooners might face South Dakota, for example, as a tune-up before a big game against Texas.
Their players will probably pile up big numbers against South Dakota. But how useful are these numbers when looking at the course of a season? Competition disparity is just one more reason why stats aren’t everything in the college game.
4 – Don’t Bet on Road Favorites
Sometimes, you’ll notice that traditional college powerhouses aren’t favored by much against less talented teams on the road. Therefore, you may be tempted to bet on the higher regarded team in hopes of scoring an easy win.
However, road favorites make for tricky bets. College students aren’t quite as poised on the road as their professional counterparts.
You may think that LSU only being a -10 favorite at Kentucky is an outcry. However, Vegas bookmakers are very good at their jobs and undervalue road favorites for a reason.
If you’re interested in gambling on football, then the college game is your best bet. After all, it features a large schedule each week along with many low-profile matchups.
These two factors combine to give bookmakers fits when they’re determining lines. They may nail a primetime game between Florida and Georgia, but release a weak line for East Carolina and Temple.
Of course, you can’t just blindly bet on overlooked matchups and expect to win.
Instead, you need to build up your college football betting skills just like you would for NFL gambling.
A good starting point is to develop in-depth knowledge of a conference. You should especially target the non-Power 5 leagues, which don’t draw as much attention or betting action.
You should also dedicate time toward scouring opening lines. You’ll often find more value when lines are first released and bookmakers are getting a read on the betting action.
Stats don’t mean as much in NCAA football as they do in the NFL thanks to the high player turnover. Nevertheless, numbers should also play a role in your betting strategy.
You may not become an instant success in college football betting. But you can eventually be a winner by becoming extremely knowledgeable about teams and conferences outside Power 5.