In just a few weeks, the college football season will begin and kick off one of the most exciting sports handicapping services out there.
Whether you’ve been betting the NCAA football odds for long time or just jumping into the pool, here are some handicapping tips to help you make the best college football bets this fall.
Pass on rankings
The Top 25 rankings may help decide which teams get to go to the CFP Playoffs or get a bowl nod at the end of the season, but when it comes to covering the spread those weekly polls mean squat.
Top-25 squads are the countries elite in terms of talent but the oddsmakers do a good job balancing things out with their pointspreads. A lot of the time ranked programs can find their spreads inflated due to that public appeal and have a tougher time covering for backers each weekend.
If you’re sizing up a match involving a team showing up on the national polls, it’s best to ignore than rankings and focus on the matchup.
Returns and Losses
No sports turn over more than college sports, which means last year’s wins and losses don’t mean much if it’s a brand-new crew of players on the field this season.
Having returning players, most notably returning starters, is great boost for college teams trying to improve. They’re not starting over with new guys learning the system and have a reliable option at those positions. The same can be said when capping teams with plenty of returning starters, allowing bettors to wager with a little more confidence.
The flip of this are programs replacing key talents from the previous year. Skill positions get most of the attention, of course quarterback is important, but cluster replacements in particular units, like the offense and defensive line or secondary can sometimes have a larger impact on performance.
Bettors should really mind the number of returning players – and if those players are good – in the first few weeks of the season.
Cap those coaches
In no sport does coaching have a larger say in how the game plays out than college football. Each coach – and coordinators – bring their own style and playbook to the sideline. Coaches recruit players to fit their schemes and systems and don’t change those plans much, year from year.
Unlike in the pro game, where offenses and defenses will change course, college teams tend to hold an identity and play into those. Teams like Georgia Tech or Navy run triple-option offenses which rely heavily on the ground game and pass the ball very little. Programs like Washington State or Texas Tech have built their reputation on high-flying passing and up-tempo attacks. You’ll find defenses that love to bring pressure with blitzes from linebackers and the secondary, while other stop units rely on their front four to bring pressure and play a more passive defense in the backfield.
Knowing those coaching tendencies and how they matchup against opposing defenses is the first step in capping the college football odds. You can even look at the opposing coach and their success against similar-styled teams to find edges and advantages.