Which Strategies Do Sharp Bettors Use Betting on NCAA Football?

The NCAA football season is like Christmas, the Super Bowl, your birthday, and Thanksgiving all rolled into one impressive 4-month span of mayhem and excitement.

You’ve got some of the most storied rivalries in all sports, facing off in epic showdowns and new players bursting onto the scene out of nowhere as future stars in the making.

Sports bettors can’t ever seem to get enough of the action taking place on Saturdays across the nation. Unfortunately, many of these excited punters fall well short of their intended goal.

They get in over their heads by not understanding the importance of finding the correct value in the games or merely bet consistently from the heart.

Luckily, there’s a better way to approach college football as a bettor. These 7 tactics used by sharp bettors on NCAA football will get you out of the nose bleeds and down on the field with successful punters.

1 – Avoid the Massive Point Spread

One of the most blatant downfalls of the average sports bettor is seeing a game with a vast spread and assuming this means value. More often than not, value is the last thing you’d expect to find in a giant spread.

Real money online sportsbooks make money by charging the vig on all losing bets. So, you bet $110 on a game to win $100.

The casino doesn’t care anything about the $100; there’s no money to be made by shading the public as a sportsbook. They merely want that $10 from every person that loses.

So, when handicappers are setting lines, they are simply trying to get equal money on each side of a contest. That is why you’ll often see the lines shift throughout the week.

The teams aren’t necessarily getting better or worse ahead of the game. The sportsbooks are simply trying to hedge their bets by convincing the public to bet in a specific direction.

The biggest problem you’ll face chasing big spreads comes down to the unpredictability of college football. Sometimes the favorite will smoke the opponent so severely that the spread doesn’t make it close.

Yet, occasionally the underdog will catch a team slipping and give them a fight. The spread can play a vital role in determining value, but don’t let it get out of hand.

2 – Follow the 5-Star Recruits

One of the most valuable ways to grade a team’s potential is by examining the recruiting. In some instances, the pedigree is evident.

The Top 25 teams will be stacked with talent forwards and back. The SEC, BIG 10, Big 12, and Pac 12 all have insane talent at the top.

Please Note:

Trying to spot the recruiting differences between the number one and number two ranked schools would be fruitless. However, that doesn’t mean carefully examining recruiting trends over the past several seasons is a waste of energy.

Once you get away from the top 30 teams in college football, the betting public as a whole is mainly disinterested. Unless, of course, we’re talking about an individual’s alma mater.

By focusing on the teams not ranked highly, you get the groups most fans pay no attention to whatsoever. This swings the door wide open for finding value in all kinds of places.

How many times during the college football season do you see an unranked opponent knock off a team in the Top 25?

It happens pretty regularly. Use those teams to get your advantage. Find the units that have consistently recruited well over the past 2-3 seasons and let them make you money.

3 – Look for Value Early in the Season

Early in the season, everyone is still playing a guessing game in many ways. The handicappers are still getting a feel for teams as they begin to take the field, and the betting public at large has even less of a clue.

Every year some teams seem to come out of nowhere and perform at a level few could have expected. This is excellent news for anyone that’s been doing their homework in the offseason.

Sure, we all know that Alabama is going to be great; my 10-year old neighbor shared that nugget with me over the weekend.

However, many teams on the fence will undoubtedly come out of the gates on fire. Don’t be surprised; instead, ride these teams from week one by being ahead of the curve.

Teams with a high percentage of returning starters are all but guaranteed to kick off the season in fighting form. Look for the mid-level team with returning talent on either side of the ball.

When the season starts, they are likely to get into a groove much more quickly than a team full of guys that have been riding the bench for years.

You can also watch many of the spring games for popular teams to see how the squad is meshing. Start looking for the early season dark horses, and you’ll be a leg up on many.

Still, you’ll have to beat the sportsbooks if you have any hopes of making a profit.

4 – Put All of Your Attention in One Area

I see a ton of average sports bettors drown themselves by trying to see the best value on every game happening during a week.

That’s an insane amount of work, and the sheer volume of data required to properly vet games at that rate would burn anyone out.

Sharp sports bettors know the importance of focusing their attention on a specific area. Most often, teams within a particular conference.

By narrowing down the teams involved as much as possible, it allows you to know all of the teams you’re betting for or against. So, you could have a team that you’re betting on this week be the same team you’re going against the next.

It may be a complex concept to embrace for the ardent sports fan, but savvy sports bettors know better. It makes little difference where you place your focus. Still, the lower rung conferences can offer spectacular opportunities for a crafty bettor.

5 – Watch Out for the Sleeping Giants

Let down games, unmotivated teams, lookaheads, trap games, or whatever you prefer to call them are a scary part of the NCAA football season. They are also a real threat for sports bettors that get fooled by a dominant team.

Every season a team with an unblemished record will get caught off guard and be forced into a fight they never expected. Sometimes this slip can be the result of underestimating their opponent.

At other times it could be that the coach’s message isn’t being received by the players, and they’ve lost interest in the task at hand. Still, other times may result from a team looking ahead a week to a game that bears more significance.

For example:

Auburn may be ranked in the top 5 two weeks ahead of a match-up with Alabama, which is also in the top 5. Yet, Auburn still needs to get through Ole Miss this Saturday.

Ole Miss is a heck of a recruiting school and regularly score high with their incoming classes. If Auburn doesn’t put the proper attention on the game against the Rebels, they could easily take a loss.

This does pose an interesting scenario for those looking to take Ole Miss and the points, though. That’s especially true if Auburn is on the road.

You should look for any advantage you can find, and quite often, it’ll be on the games involving ranked teams getting surprised.

6 – Focus on Live Betting

Live betting has made the world of sports betting much more exciting. For some, it’s also become much more profitable.

The AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll each carry a lot of weight for college football fans, coaches, and players. The CFP rankings are the teams’ ticket into the playoffs and their shot at a National Championship.

Teams sitting on the fence may feel the need to buck convention and press during the second half with a substantial lead. A blowout victory is a guaranteed way to grab the attention of the rankings delegation.

On the flip side, a team comfortably in the playoffs may elect to rest their starters and allow the underclassmen to gain some valuable experience in the second half of a blowout game.

7 – Find Teams that Can’t Cover

College football, much like the NFL, is a run-and-gun spectacle of offensive domination. At least, that’s what many of the pundits and coaches are looking for on the game day.

Because the offenses in college football are so proficient at moving the football, sharp bettors will look for teams with poor to downright terrible defensive secondaries.

If you can’t cover an opponent’s receivers, you’re going to get demolished. It’s as simple as that.

Look for contests where a potent offense is facing off against a lackluster defense, and you’ll make a profit in the sportsbook.


These 7 tactics used by sharp sports bettors are a tried and true formula for success. However, you can’t cherry-pick the strategies that appeal to you.

If you want to make a sustainable profit gambling on college football, it’ll require you to account for each of the above factors and create your own system.

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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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