Making money over the long term on college football betting – or any sport, really – isn’t really that difficult conceptually. All you need to do is find situations where there is value in lines and then bet to take advantage of that value. If you do that consistently over the long term then you will come out ahead. That’s easier said than done, of course, but there are some places where it is easier to find value than others. One such place in college football is a team that has been surprisingly but quietly strong in non-conference play. If they have been playing well, but doing it in a way that a lot of people aren’t noticing, then they could be very strong when conference play starts. There are some teams that the betting public is obviously going to be excited about heading into conference play – ones that have won all their non-conference games or knocked off a big favorite, for example. NCAA teams that have been more subtle in their success, though, could easily be overlooked by the public. Here are five ways to help college football handicappers spot and pick teams that could be surprisingly strong once conference play starts:
Surprisingly strong ATS teams – A college football team that has been kind to bettors in the past is one that could be kind to bettors in the future. Teams that have been very strong against the spread – three or four covered spreads in their four non-conference games – are clearly teams that are meeting and exceeding the expectations of bettors consistently. That’s a sign that they are playing very well. If it isn’t a high profile NCAA team then it’s also a good sign that they are better than the public thinks they are. You could learn more form their ATS record as well. For example, if a football team has won a game or more outright despite being underdogs then they are clearly playing well. Success against the point spread is a very strong indicator.
Teams deceptively strong in defeat – There is such a thing as a good loss. Typically the betting public focuses intently on the scoreboard and can’t look beyond that. If a team looks very good but can’t quite get the win, though, then it could be a sign of hidden strength. There are a number of ways that a college football team could look good and still lose. Perhaps they outgained their opponent significantly but didn’t get any breaks or lost for some particular circumstances. Maybe they kept the game very close as big underdogs or against a team that was significantly more talented. Perhaps they were forced to play without a star player because of an injury but played well despite that. Now that the player is back in action the team could be even better. Anything you can find in the box score that shows that the team played better than most people will think is a huge tool for you as a NCAA football handicapper.
New key players showing real progress – College football is all about change. Players are always graduating or going pro, so new players in key spots are a fact of life. If a new player is in a key position – like quarterback, for example – then there are going to be some struggles early on. The public often doesn’t have a lot of faith in a team with a new quarterback. If the player is showing real improvement, though, then they could be significantly better once conference play starts because they will be more experienced and comfortable.
Tough scheme developing well – If a football team has made a change in their offensive or defensive coordinator then they could be changing their schemes significantly as well. A change like that takes some time, and the results can be ugly early on. If the team is showing clear progress, though, then they could be ready to perform much better than they have been by the time conference play rolls around. If, for example, a team is making a big shift offensively – like from a spread offense to a pro style – then you could monitor factors like completion percentage, yards per attempt, pass/run ratio, and snaps from under center to get a sense of how comfortable and efficient the offense is being in their transition.
Favorable scheduling – Typically college football teams don’t like to challenge themselves too much in conference play. A lot of teams from major conferences play virtual exhibition games in non-conference play with perhaps just one or two tough games thrown in. Sometimes, though, teams really schedule aggressively. If a team has scheduled tough then the results might not be that positive for them. Once conference play starts, though, they are going to be well seasoned, and they might not find their conference opponents to be as tough as the ones they have already played. Tough scheduling can hurt a team in the short term, but in the longer term it can be a real boost for bettors. Expert college football handicappers understand this idea and use it.