There is nothing as exciting as getting up on a Saturday morning and turning on College Gameday in preparation for a full day packed with college football action. What makes this ritual even more exciting is hoping online or getting to the sportsbook and laying down some bets on the action. But, winning those bets and turning a consistent profit is just not as easy as it seems.
In this guide, we’re going to work on helping you to achieve that goal of profitability when it comes to betting on college football. If you’re brand new to college football betting or making the transition from the NFL, there is a lot that you may not be aware of. Some of you may be experienced college football bettors who are looking to get a leg up on the rest of the betting public and improve your results.
Whoever you are and wherever you’re from, we’ve got you covered here. We’re going to walk you through an initial overview of how you should be approaching betting games, and then we’re going to drill down on some specifics of what you should be doing to try and find an edge. We’re confident that after you finish this guide, your college football betting game will be on a new level and you will be in a good spot to go out and crush the books on the next slate of games you bet.
It’s funny how many college football bettors we’ve talked to that approach their betting incorrectly. Okay, it’s not actually that funny, but it is a bit astounding how many bettors are missing this fundamental piece of the puzzle. Let’s take a look at how these people are incorrectly approaching the betting slate and then look at how you should be doing things to maximize your potential profits.
If you’re starting out your Saturday of betting by picking a game and a type of bet you want to make before starting your research, you’re doing things wrong. Picking out a game you want to bet is fine, but picking out a bet type that you want to make first is a mistake. Doing so puts you in a position to start forcing bets where they don’t fit and leads you down a path where you’re going to miss out on some great value plays.
What you should be doing is picking out a game that you’re interested in, coming up with a detailed prediction of how you think that game is going to transpire, and THEN picking out the bets that fit the predictions you’ve come up with. This ensures that you’re going to get the most out of your research time and that you’re not going to force bets or miss out on bets that you should be making.
For example, if you approach a college football game looking to make a bet on the spread, you’re immediately going to be looking for evidence to back one or the other side of the spread. But, what happens if when you get done with your research, you realize that there is no good spread bet option on that game? Are you going to have the discipline to walk away from the game and make no bet or are you going to be tempted to try and find more information to back one particular side? Who wants to throw away hours of research, right?
That’s where that temptation to force bets comes in. But, if you instead made a detailed storyline prediction of how you think the game is going to go, you’re still going to see that a spread bet is a bad play. But, you might notice that the total is a great play. Or you might see prop bets that you otherwise would have missed. When you start with the goal of making a game prediction, you leave yourself open to finding different betting opportunities that you may have never even thought about.
So, to get started, pick out a game that you want to potentially bet on. Then write out a storyline of exactly how you think the game is going to go. Include as many details as possible and certainly include which player you think are going to do what and when. When you get done with this, you’ll have a detailed breakdown of how you think the game is going to transpire.
From this storyline, you can start looking to see what types of bets might work. If you notice that you detailed out a high-scoring affair, you might want to look at taking the over in the game. If you noticed that one player is going to have an incredible outing, you might want to look for prop bets that support that prediction.
Once you’ve picked out some bet types you’re interested in, take that information to the books and look at what the lines are. It should be really easy to see where your value plays are because you already have an idea of what you think is going to happen in the game. By doing things this way, you protect yourself from falling victim to confirmation bias, forcing bets, and letting the published lines sway your thinking and judgment.
This does bring us to one more small point we want to make. If you’re newer to college football betting, we highly recommend that you make all of your predictions before you look at any of the lines put out by the sportsbooks. The problem with looking at these first is that it immediately sways your thinking and can cloud your judgment. If you feel strongly about one team but you see that the sportsbook has them as big underdogs, you might be tempted to side with the sportsbook and start doing your research from a jaded perspective. This is going to keep you from being able to find any sort of upsets or big value picks where the line is way off.
For you advanced bettors, you can look at lines first if you want to identify the games you want to research, but only if you know that it’s not going to affect your ability to research from a neutral point of view. If you’re betting the same conference every week, then you already know what games you want to research so you can bypass looking at these lines until after you’ve done your research and made your predictions.
Now that we’ve covered the general overview theory of how to approach betting on a college football game, let’s drill down on some specifics. In the next few sections, we’re going to lay out some of our top strategy tips for betting on college football games. These tips range from basic to advanced, and several of them have additional links to more resources.
We highly recommend you take some time and read through this list and then check out the additional resources that we’ve provided. The more you know, the sharper you’ll be, and the better and more profitable your picks will be.
The number one tip you will find on all of our betting guides regardless of sport or league is this. You have to be looking for value when you make your bets and not just looking for wins. If you’re out chasing wins just so you can cash tickets and ignoring value, you’re going to lose money.
Here’s something that comes as a shock to a lot of people. You can have more wins than losses on your college football bets and be losing money. You can have more losses than wins on your college football bets and be making tons of money. It all comes down to how much value each of your bets has. If this is Greek to you (and you’re not reading this in Greece), then stay tuned because we’re about to turn your college football and sports betting career upside down.
Breaking down the difference between chasing value and chasing wins is far too in-depth for us to cover here in this limited space. But, we’re not going to leave you hanging. The link below will take you to our dedicated guide on the subject. This is a must-read for anyone with hopes of being a winning sports bettor. You can win in the short term without this concept, but you have zero chance of making money long term without it.
If you’re using data and statistics to make your picks, you’re awesome. The one thing that’s never going to lie to you or lead you astray is data. But, that’s only true if the data you are using is accurate, meaningful, and comes from an adequate sample size.
When you bet on the NFL, you’re not going to have a lot of NFL data on rookie players. But, you can always go back to their college years and see how they performed to at least have an idea of what they are capable of. When you bet on college football, though, you can’t really go back to players high school years and get any data. Even if you can get your hands on that data, it is usually useless because of the caliber of teams they are competing against.
When you’re looking at statistics for rookie or newer players in college football, make sure you take a look at the sample size of the data before using it in your picking strategy. For example, you might see a stat on a player that shows they are killing it, but that stat might be from only two or three games. While they may continue to shine, it’s hard to draw any meaningful conclusions from just a couple of games.
Additionally, smaller sample sizes like that could have been against mediocre or terrible teams. You have to look deeper when you use stats in college football because there is not going to be a disclaimer that tells you which stats to be wary of. Players will be compared along stat lines, and sometimes the sample size on one player may be adequate while the other may be from just a few games or just a few games against terrible teams.
Make sure that you take the time to validate the validity of your stats before you put a lot of weight behind them. We’re not saying not to use stats because data is awesome and extremely helpful. We’re just saying that you need to be extra cautious because of the nature of college football.
The amount of money bet on college football games is nowhere near as much as is bet on the NFL. This means that smaller amounts of money are going to be able to shift lines more significantly. $100,000 bet on an NFL game might do nothing to the line. But, that same amount bet on a smaller college football game might move the line significantly.
This is important for you to know because practices like line shopping and attempting to predict line movement become that much more important. Bets that originally have no value could have a ton of value by the time action closes. Additionally, bets that do have value have the potential to have way more value if you can time when to make your bets or if you shop your lines.
Be aware that these two practices are much more important when it comes to college football especially if you’re making the transition from the NFL. The most you might see an NFL line move in a week is a point and maybe a point and a half (excluding rare occasions). But in college football, you can see spreads moving four or five points regularly and sometimes even more. This goes the same for totals, moneylines, and especially props. Don’t leave free money on the table.
Trying to figure out where to get started when you’re betting college football can be a little daunting. There are so many games to choose from. What we recommend you do is choose a conference that you want to specialize in. You can still bet games outside of that conference, but that can be your main stomping grounds.
This accomplishes several things. First, it allows you to become an expert on a particular area of college football. Instead of just knowing a tiny bit about every team and every game, you’ll now know a ton about a select group of teams that play each other regularly. Second, it gives you a great starting point every week. Instead of staring at the list of games for hours or wasting your time with games that don’t have a lot of value, you’ll have a jumping off point to get right into your research every week.
Casual fans know a little bit about the games they are betting. Expert sports bettors know a lot about the games they’re betting. This is only possible if you choose an area to specialize in.
Sportsbooks are going to put their best handicappers and their biggest resources on the bigger conferences and the biggest games of the week. They do this because that’s where they stand to lose the most money if they end up putting out a bad line. If they mess up a line or get something wrong on a smaller game that’s low-profile, a few people will take advantage of it, but they’re okay with that.
This should be an alert to your ears that you should be looking at this smaller conferences and lower profile games. Is the sportsbook going to purposely put out bad lines? Not at all. But, they’re not going to be monitoring things as closely, and you do stand to find more value there more often. Additionally, the total money bet on these smaller games is a lot less which means those line moves we were talking about are going to be even more significant. This can create a lot of opportunities to get some easy value. Just because you’re not betting the game of the week does not mean the money you win is any less real.
If you think rivalry games are a big deal in the NFL, just wait until you get into things with college football. Rivalry games will always have some of the craziest spreads you’ve seen that at times might seem to make no sense to you. You’ll have one team that is crushing the world and is multiple score favorites every game taking on a rival who is having an awful season and the spread will be just a few points.
This is a display of how much rivalries matter in college football. Make sure when you’re making your bets that you don’t neglect to take this into account. When you see a spread that looks too good to be true, make sure you take a deeper look as to why. If it’s a rivalry game, that’s probably the reason. It’ll be up to you to see if the books have overreacted to the fact it’s a rivalry game or not reacted enough. These games can be tricky to bet, but a lot of experience college football bettors say they’re a great spot to find value because so many bettors are betting with their hearts and not their heads.
On the same not as the rivalry bit, home field advantage plays a big role in college football. You’re not dealing with professional players with a lot of experience traveling and playing in hostile environments. Often, you’re dealing with players who are fresh out of high school and barely 18 years old. If you don’t think that hostile environments and 90,000 people screaming against them makes a difference, then you need to remember what it was like to be 18 years old again.
The ability to perform in hostile environments is going to depend a lot on individual player experience and the ability of the coaching staff to get them prepared. While we don’t always look deeply at trends, this is one area where you could look back to see how well the coaching staff historically does at getting their teams prepared to play in these hostile environments. Don’t put all your betting eggs in one basket and bet solely based on home-field advantage, but make sure you’re taking it into account when it matters.
We know the feeling; you feel like a kid in a candy store when you look at the list of games every week. There are so many college football games weekly, and if you’re like us, you see every single one of them as an opportunity. But, what happens when kids eat too much candy? They get sick.
Now, we’re not saying that you’re going to get sick if you bet too many college football games, but we are saying that you need to be careful about getting too carried away. You should only be betting games that you have a solid prediction on and that you think there is value in your bets. This is NOT going to be every game. Unless you have a huge team of researchers, you’re not going to have the time or the resources to research every single game every week.
When you bet these games that you haven’t fully researched, you’re effectively just gambling. Remember, amateur sports bettors know a little about what they are betting, experts know a lot. If you’re betting games that you have not 100% flushed out for value, you’re falling right in line with those amateur bettors who are effectively just gambling. We’re trying to make educated and value-driven picks that will turn a long-term profit for us, not gambling.
So, the takeaway is that you should really limit the number of games you bet so you can focus all your efforts on those picks. There are games every single week of the season, so you don’t need to feel like you have to get all of your money in play every single week. It can be tempting, but it’s not a winning strategy.
Keep in mind that this also means you might end up skipping out on betting some of the higher profile games. If those games don’t have value, you’re just going to be gambling. It’s okay just to watch a game as a fan if you don’t think there are any wise bets. These are the toughest games to avoid forcing bets on even as an experienced and successful college football bettor. But, the more discipline you can have, the better your bottom line is going to look at the end of the week.
For most of you, we probably turned your college football betting strategy upside down. That’s a good thing. This new way of approaching games is a great way to ensure that you’re on the path to success and profitability. For those of you that were already approaching games this way and just made a few tweaks, we commend you for coming here and taking the time to read all of this information. The second you stop working on improving your betting strategies is the second you’re doomed. By constantly working to improve (even if you’re already profitable), you set yourself up for success.Now, are you going to be instantly profitable betting on college football now that you’ve read this guide? Unfortunately, no. But, if you take what you learned here and apply it to your current strategies and throw in some good research, you’re going to be well on your way to being a successful and profitable college sports bettor.
If you’re absolutely brand new, let us leave you with one last tip. Take things slowly. There is no reason to fire off huge bets until you are comfortable that you have a winning strategy. Bet small and focus on improving your strategy and as you get more confident and your bankroll grows, you can work on upping the amount you are betting each game. Just don’t ever feel like you need to go quicker than you feel comfortable with. College football is not going anywhere for a long time.