College football is typically a game played in the bright sun of the afternoon. That’s how it is supposed to be, and tradition is such a big part of the sport. Every week, though, there are a couple of night games. Just a small fraction of games are night games, and in some leagues games played after dark are a real rarity. For the most part betting these games is just like betting any other – the rules are still the same and so on. there are some ways, though, in which these games can be different, and those difference can create an edge for smart bettors who are aware of them and can exploit them. Here’s a look at five such possible differences that college football handicappers need to be aware of when approaching night games:
Is the team used to playing night games? – For some football teams night games are no big deal at all. Their league might play a lot of night games, and because they are a high profile, successful team they are often selected to play in these higher profile games. For other college teams, though, they can be a totally new experience. The Big Ten, for example, doesn’t have a history of playing a lot of night games, so their teams are going to be a lot less experienced with playing them than a squad in the SEC might be. Playing a night game is different than a day game for a few major reasons. First, the sightlines can be different if the game is played outside. The lights can be a factor, and the dark background of the sky is something players likely aren’t used to. Second, the different kickoff time requires a totally different routine during the day. If players are mostly used to getting up in the morning and getting ready to play their game then they might not have a good sense of what to do when they have a whole day to kill before kickoff. That might not sound like much of a big deal, but athletes are such creatures of habits that some teams – especially fragile ones – can really be negatively impacted by going through this for the first time. The impact can be particularly significant if teams are crossing time zones to play a night game. An east coast team playing a night game on the west coast will be playing until well after they would normally be in bed, while a west coast team in the east will feel like it is still early evening when the game is done.
How well is the stadium set up for the games? – Some football stadiums host night games all the time, so having one is not a big deal at all. Other fields, though, might not be used to hosting games, so they probably aren’t as well designed for the situation, and they kinks might not be worked out as well.
Will the weather be a factor? – In more northern climates it can get really, really cold once the sun goes down – even on days that have been really nice. College football handicappers need to be aware of what impact the starting time is likely to have on the game, and how the teams involved are likely going to be able to deal with that. there could also be a big swing in temperatures from the start of the game to the end, and that will be handled better by teams who are familiar with the climate. If it is raining or snowing heavily then visibility can also become a major issue as it gets dark because the lights can’t penetrate the rain or snow as well as would be ideal.
What impact will it have on the crowd? – College students wake up early on game days to start drinking before they go to games. When their team is playing a night game then they have had much more time to drink before kickoff. That means that home field crowds can be particularly rowdy and disrespectful of their opponent when games kick off after dark. You need to consider what impact this can have on a game. If the crowd is normally a very significant factor in game sin the building then they could be even more of one. If the games are lightly attended, or if students don’t make up a big portion of the attendance, the impact likely won’t be significant. The impact is also likely to be much bigger at a big party school than at a religious college, and it is going to be bigger if the game is a novelty for the fans than if it is a common occurrence. Major rivalries can also fire the fans up, and the extra ‘preparation’ time could be an even bigger factor than normal.
Impact on betting public – If the night football game is a major NCAA conference game then chances are that it is nationally televised, and that it is receiving a fair bit of hype and attention. The more attention a game gets nationally the higher the betting volume is likely to be, and the more public money will be bet on the game. The more the public is betting on a game, the more you need to be aware of where they are betting and the impact that has on line movement and finding value in your bets. The NCAA betting public has their well established tendencies to bet the favorite and the over, so if you are betting those sides as a college football bettor you need to be particularly careful that the price is attractive enough to make a bet given the inflation the extra attention will have caused to the odds.