College Football Betting Strategy

College football season is an incredible time of the year filled with literally thousands of opportunities to hunt down value and turn a killer profit. But, picking winners is not always as easy as it sounds. In a sport where value is tight, you have to find every edge you can to try and get a leg up on the competition.

In this guide, we’re going to look at the most profitable college football betting strategies, tips, and tricks. Our team of betting experts has compiled their knowledge into one cohesive guide for your reading pleasure. This sort of insider information is normally not given for free or given away at all. Experts like to keep this stuff close to the vest because educating the betting public is never a smart move.

But, we’ve convinced them to open up and share this information with you completely free of charge. These are not their bottom of the barrel betting strategy tips either. These are the secrets and strategies they use on a weekly basis to continually locate value and beat the college football betting market.

Will reading these tips instantly make you a master college football bettor? 100%, without a doubt, nope. Not what you were expecting us to say, was it? Well, here’s the truth. The secret to beating college football betting is three steps.

  • The first step is getting the information and strategies you need to know in order to beat the game. That’s usually the most guarded step and is what we’re taking care of for you here today.
  • The second step is utilizing those strategies to do the proper research and find the value spots.
  • The third and final step is having the discipline to follow your strategy and make the bets you know you should.

It’s the combination of these three steps that will make you a winner betting college football.

Here’s what we can guarantee you. When you finish reading and studying this guide, you will have a clear direction on what you need to research and how to find value sports betting college football. It’s up to you after that to put in the work and fire off the winning bets. You’ll leave here with all of the necessary tools, though, to be a big winner.

Understand the Differences from the NFL

A lot of college football bettors didn’t start betting on college. A large percentage of them started in the NFL and then made the successful transition into betting the Saturday slate of football games. But, for every one of these NFL bettors that successfully made the transition, there was a whole slew who failed miserably. Why? Well, for most of them it was the inability to adapt to the changes and differences between the two leagues.

If you’re someone who is used to betting on the NFL and is looking to dabble in the college market now, make sure you pay attention. The NFL is NOT the same as college football. Yes, they are playing the same sport, and the points are scored the same way, but the things you have to pay attention to when betting are vastly different. To lead off this strategy guide, let’s look at a few of the ways that the NFL and NCAAF (college football) are different.

Bigger Spreads

Prepare yourself for some game spreads that you’re going to have to double check aren’t typos. In the NFL, seeing a spread over 10 points is massive. Seeing a spread over 40 or 50 points in college football is really no big deal. Because there are so many teams in NCAAF, you’re going to end up with a ton of horrible mismatches where you have a team just below NFL caliber playing against a team that might struggle beating some high schools.

Why is this important? Well, for one, we didn’t want you to have any shell shock the first time you looked at college football lines. Second, we want to point out that you shouldn’t be scared of looking at these games for value. Often, bettors will stay away from these games when they really are no different than a game with a spread of just a few points. In fact, when the spread gets a lot bigger, it leaves more room for errors and bad lines which means opportunities for you.

Smaller Betting Pool

The amount of money being bet on college football is significantly less than the amount of money being bet on NFL games. Even if the same total amount of money was being bet on each sport, there are so many games within college football that the amount on each individual game would be much less.

What does this mean for you? Well, it means that the lines are going to be much more volatile than they are in the NFL. If a line moves a full point in the NFL, that’s a big movement and a big deal. In college football, it’s not uncommon for lines to move 3 or 4 or more points on a regular basis. This is because due to the lower betting volume it doesn’t take as much money to shift the line. A bet size that might do nothing to the line in the NFL might have a drastic change on a college football betting line at a particular sportsbook.

We’ll talk about the strategic implications of this more in detail when we discuss the timeframe in which you should capitalize on favorable betting lines in a later section. For now, just be aware that the betting volume on college football games is going to be smaller than that of the NFL leading to much more fluid and volatile betting lines.

Intangibles Become More Important

The NFL is filled with professionals. College football is filled with kids fresh out of their parent’s house. This means that the intangibles of a game are going to play a much larger role in college football than they will with the NFL.

For example, a high-profile game in the NFL might have a small impact on the players and a team, but most of them have experienced the big stage before. A regular Sunday game is not that much different than a Monday Night Football game late in the season. Yes, it is different and should be accounted for when betting, but the difference between the two is not as great as our next example.

In college football:
You have kids that are used to playing in front of 200 people on a Friday night that are now about to play in front of 90,000+ people, tv cameras, and NFL scouts. If you don’t think that is going to have an effect on how some people play, you’re living in another world.

This is just one small example of the intangibles that we’re talking about. You need to weigh everything that occurs surrounding the game, the implications, and most importantly the effect that is going to have on the players in the game. Emotions are going to run a lot higher, and because they are not professionals with a ton of experience, they might not be as well equipped (especially in their freshman season) to handle this. Don’t forget this when you’re making your bets.

Statistics Can be Misleading

This strategy tip could have easily fit in the above section on differences from the NFL, but it’s so important that we deemed it should be put into its own individual section. When you are looking at NFL statistics, you typically have a long history to go off of. Even if you’re looking at the statistics of a rookie, you can fall back on their college stats which will give you a pretty good idea of how they are likely to perform in the NFL. Sure, that is not ideal, but you at least have those numbers at your disposal should you need them when determining whether to make a bet.

In college football, though, you’ll often find yourself with an extremely small sample size to pull statistics from. If a player is a freshman, all you have to go off of are their high school stats which we hopefully all know are pretty close to worthless. Due to the massive variance in the skill of opponents in high school, statistics from that time in a player’s career and pretty close to worthless in this context.

Here’s the problem that a lot of people miss. Stat sites will sometimes not point out the fact that the stats are coming from a small sample size. If you have a betting system that hinges on let’s say the yards per rush of a running back, how good are the stats going to be if you’re pulling data from one single game? We can tell you from a stats point of view, they will be worthless. Everyone has seen players have good and bad games, especially their first few games playing on a bigger stage.

The point you need to take away from this is two-fold. First, you need to make sure that the stats you are using to decide your bets are coming from an adequate sample size. Just a couple of games is not really the definition of adequate in this context.

Second, make sure that these stats are from comparable opponents.
Remember how we said there is a huge variance in the skill level of teams in college football? Well, if a player has incredible stats, but they were all against lower-tier schools and they are about to play a high-powered, top-ranked school, you need to weigh that into your equation. This would be the same as using stats from a player’s high school career against opponents who will never play another snap after they graduate high school.

Using stats is an incredible way to make effective college football betting picks. But, if you aren’t using the right stats or an adequate sample size, you might as well be setting your money on fire because the numbers are going to be worthless.

Capitalize on Favorable Betting Lines Quickly

As we mentioned earlier, the volume of the betting market is going to be significantly smaller in college football especially on the lower tier games. This means that lines are going to change much more frequently and much quicker than they would in a higher volume market like the NFL. What this means for you is that you’re going to have to be a lot more strategic in how you time your bets.

If you see a very favorable line, chances are some other sharp bettors out there are seeing it too. If the sportsbook you’re betting at is filled with sharps, that line is not going to last long. The best advice here would be to either find a sportsbook with less educated bettors or be prepared to jump on those favorable lines as quickly as possible.

Please Note:
This might require you to monitor lines a little more aggressively than you would with the NFL or another sport, but if you want to win you have to do what is necessary.

The perk of the smaller volume markets, though, is that the higher number of line fluctuations means that you’re going to have a lot more opportunities to find value on any given week. Determine what line you like for a particular game and then start hawking the books looking for the best line possible.

Don’t Bet the Full Spectrum of Games

Whoa boy, do we know how tempting this can be… With tons of different games and bets to choose from every single week in college football, it can be tempting to want to fire the entire schedule. You can’t win what you don’t put in play, right? Well, that’s probably one of the worst gambling cliché pieces of advice ever.

If you’re just looking for the supreme rush and you don’t really care about turning a profit, by all means, bombs away on every single game of the weekend. We can guarantee you’re probably going to have some fun, but most likely you’re not going to be making much of a profit.

What you should be doing is only betting the games where you find value. Only bet the games where you have a strong feeling that the line is wrong and that you’re going to get paid much better than you should with a correct pick. By doing this, you’re going to set yourself up for success. If this means only a few games over the weekend, that’s fine. If this means a lot of games one week and very few or even none the next week, that’s fine too.

The point is that you should only be betting value opportunities that are smart. When you start just firing off the entire slate of games, you’re just being a degenerate gambler looking to get lucky. Don’t be that guy or gal. Be smart, approach your college football professionally, and go wild when you go to spend your winnings away from the sportsbook.

Specialize in a Particular Conference

So, if we ruined all your fun telling you that you can’t bet every single game under the sun, what does that leave for you? Well, what we recommend you do is choose a conference to specialize in. Pick a conference that you enjoy watching or already have a strong knowledge base about and focus on making wagers there. If you just bet the high-profile games, you’re going to struggle to find value as those lines are typically hit a lot harder by the sharps.

But, if you pick a conference that has a nice mix of games all over the board, you’re going to be able to find a lot of great value opportunities. Additionally, it’s better to be an expert on a small group of games than to be mediocrely skilled at picking winners of all games. By specializing, you allow yourself to become an expert which should translate over into higher profit.

Remember:
The money you win off of a random Big-10 game is the same kind of money you win by betting the high-profile Saturday night game. It all spends the same.

Become an expert on a particular conference. If you’re lucky enough to master a conference, then you can look at expanding out elsewhere. But, until you can beat one particular conference consistently, there is no reason to try and spread yourself even thinner.

Don’t Neglect the Low-Tier Games

We touched on this slightly in the previous section, but now we want to address it head-on. The lower-tier games in college football are some great areas to look for value. Why? Well, aren’t we glad you asked. Let’s look at a few reasons that our teams of pros recommend checking out these games.

But first, let’s make sure we are all on the same page as to what a low-tier college football game is. Basically, these are the games that are getting less media attention and are typically between two smaller schools. These are not the games you see on ESPN or ABC on Saturday night during prime time. These are the games that you have to purchase a special college football cable package to watch. We assume you all know what we’re talking about, but we just wanted to be thorough and sure.

The Books Aren’t As Concerned With Them

The sportsbooks have limited resources when it comes to setting their lines. They have a certain number of employees and technological resources that they must allocate accordingly to all of the sports, games, and bet types that they are offering. In a perfect world (for them), they would have an unlimited number of people that could work on finding the perfect lines for all of their bets. But, in reality, they have to choose where to allocate their people and their resources where it serves them the best.

Let’s pose a question to make our point clear here. If you were the sportsbook owner, where would you allocate your smartest and sharpest people and your best resources? Would you allocate most of them to the big-ticket games where you’re going to have a ton of money bet or would you allocate most of them to the low-tier games where the amount of money being bet will be significantly less?

If you’re a smart sportsbook owner, you’re going to put most everything on the bigger games and use the scrubs or what you have leftover to take care of the low-tier games. Why? Well, if you make a mistake with a line, you don’t stand to lose as much money. If you put out a bad line with a high-profile game, money could pour in so quickly on the other side that you might not ever get enough action on the other side of the game. This is a risk that sportsbook owners are not willing to take.

So, what they typically do is put their weaker oddsmakers or dedicate less time and resources to the low-tier games. This means that the chances of seeing bad lines on games is much higher.

This means your opportunity to find lines that are just plain wrong goes way up, and you stand to make a lot of money if you can identify these.

The Lines Will Shift More Often

Take the principle that we discussed about the lines moving more frequently in college football than in the NFL and take it a step further and apply it to the different tiers of games. The betting market is going to be even smaller on the smaller games which means smaller amounts of money are going to cause line shifts. With more frequent and more severe line shifts, you’ll be able to find a lot of value if you can master the timing of when and how the lines are going to move. Every little bit of value is going to help, and it can become a lot easier to find opportunities in these smaller cap games.

There Will be a Lack of Easily-Accessible Information

This is the one negative that we need you to be aware of when betting these smaller games. The amount of information you will have available to make your predictions and assess value will be severely limited. The big schools like Alabama, Clemson, Florida (just to name a few) have tons of information available on their teams, players, history, and more. Additionally, the ability to find game footage is a complete breeze because most of their games were nationally televised and you probably watched most of them.

But, when was the last time you saw a nationally televised Buffalo Bulls game? Or how about a Central Michigan game? Miami of Ohio? The mighty Idaho Vandals? The chances are you probably haven’t even heard of some of these teams. You can probably imagine how tough it will be to get information on these teams.

This is going to make your job a lot more challenging, but not impossible. Remember, if sports betting were easy, everyone would be doing it for a living. The best way to approach this if you are looking to get into betting smaller tier teams is select a conference to specialize in that has a lot of these teams. For a few bucks a month, you can pick up a cable package that will let you watch all of the games (and replays) of every team in that conference. Yes, this is going to be more work than just reading some other people’s opinions on a game (which you can find a million on for any Alabama, Clemson, or Florida game), but it will allow you to become intimate with each team and really make your own predictions.

  • You think the sharps setting the lines for these games are watching every single one of them? Nope
  • You think the sharps setting the lines for an Alabama game are watching every single game? Yup

You see, you’ll be able to get a leg up on the book and be ahead of the game coming straight out of the gate. As per the stats, most of these should be available somewhere on the web. Start with the school’s website and then look at odd centers across the web. This data is out there, but it might take you a few extra minutes to get your hands on it. If you don’t have a few minutes to spare to get a leg up on the sportsbook and other bettors, you’re probably in the wrong business.

The lack of information can be seen as a negative or it can be seen as a positive. When it’s challenging to get, fewer people are going to seek it out. For every one of those people that still bets the game, you have a leg up on them. And, for every sportsbook that uses their lowest paid employee who hasn’t seen all the games to set a line, you’ll have a leg up on them as well. You’ll be the expert, and the expert always comes out on top in the sports betting world.

Shop Till You Drop

Line shopping. The two most powerful and profitable words in all of sports betting. This doesn’t change just because we’re now betting on college sports instead of pro sports. You have to be willing to take a few moments with each bet and find where you’re going to get the best odds. With online sportsbooks being so easily accessible, this shouldn’t take you more than a few seconds for each bet.

You don’t need to go out and shop for a better line at 50 different books. That’s a waste of time, and you’re most likely not going to find anything better than what you would find in the first 2-3 books. Additionally, who really wants to manage 50 different sports betting accounts. Instead, pick 2-3 books that you love that you think are filled with the most recreational sports bettors. Take the few seconds with each bet individually and find the best price or the best point spread.

It doesn’t take long, and it’s not hard to do, but it’s the single best thing you can do to improve your chances of being a successful college football sports bettor.

The Wrap Up

At this point, you have all of the tools you need to crush the books betting on college football. But, as we told you from the start, you weren’t going to finish this guide and instantly become a successful sports bettor. This was only part one of the equation, but it was the most important part. Now that you have the tools, it’s up to you to put in the work doing the right research and finding the winners. Then it’s up to you to make the bets, follow your plan and our strategies, and crush the books. Then, it will also be up to you to figure out how to spend all the money you win.

Good luck!