Rivalry games are one of the biggest factors that make college football the great sport that it is. The intensity and emotion that can be felt when two bitter college rivals meet in an annual, hate-filled event is almost unmatched in sports. For college football handicappers these games are particularly compelling. the biggest rivalry games – Texas-Oklahoma, Michigan-Ohio state, Auburn-Alabama, Utah-BYU, USC-UCLA, Oregon-Oregon State and so on – are nationally televised events that are heavily covered in the media. The more popular a game is the more interesting it is for a lot of people to bet on. When a lot of bettors bet on rivalry games, though, they make some costly mistakes that impact their bottom line significantly. Here are four big mistakes NCAA football handicappers make when betting on rivalry games:
Paying too much attention to history – You’ll hear people talk about this time and again when looking at these games. If a football team has won 18 of the last 25 games the teams have played then people will assume that they have a very significant advantage in this year’s game. That’s not necessarily true. History of this sort really has little direct relevance in college football. The reason for that is simple – because of the massive turnover in the sport because of graduation and turning pro rosters change significantly, so the team that won games five years ago bears no direct resemblance to the team that is playing now. You can argue that the previous meeting between the teams could be relevant if the starters on both sides are largely the same as they were, and if the coaching staff is still the same, but beyond that the number of changes that have happened make history far less useful than it might be in a pro league were the core of a team can stay intact much longer.
Ignoring line movement – Paying attention to line movement and what it can tell us about the opinions of oddsmakers, smart money and the public is always important. It’s especially important, though, in rivalry games. Rivalry college football games tend to be higher profile games with national exposure. The more national exposure a game gets, the higher the betting volume is going to be, and the more money will be bet by relatively uninformed public bettors who are relying more on emotion and loyalty than handicapping and logic. the sports betting public has a strong tendency towards the favorites and the over, so oddsmakers will frequently adjust lines when they know public volume will be high in order to limit their risk. In rivalry games, then, value can often be harder to find than normal on the favorite, and perhaps easier to find in underdogs. if you aren’t paying attention to line movement in these games then you can make a bet with far less value than you intend, and that can be very costly. Be an informed NCAA football bettor.
Overvaluing home field advantage – The intensity of college football crowds is one of the defining elements in rivalry games. The fans of both teams likely hate each other, and that leads to a lot of emotion and noise during the games. Because the crowd can be such a spectacle a lot of sports bettors will attach more significance to the home field advantage in these games than they do in most other games that are played. In almost all cases that is a mistake. if a school is high profile enough to play a major rivalry game then chances are good that they sell out every game they play, or at least come close to it. In every game the crowds will be very loud, the intensity will be high, and emotions will be on edge. While the crowd may be more intense in rivalry games, it won’t be dramatically different because it can’t be, so if you assume that home field advantage is a much bigger factor in this football game than in another home game against a good opponent then you are probably making a classic sports betting mistake.
Treating it too differently from another game – Ultimately a rivalry game is just another football game. The team that wins will be the one with the better matchups, the better coaching, the better discipline and the better luck. A lot of bettors try to attach special significance to these games, and that means that they consider a lot of factors in these games that they wouldn’t consider in a typical game. Overly complicating these games isn’t likely to make you more successful than when betting on other games, and the more factors you consider in any game the more likely you are to make a costly mistake.