5 Systems and Tips for Betting on College Football

College Football Player and Stack of Money in Front of a Playbook Background

When it comes to betting on football, it would seem like the NFL is the place to make your money. With less teams, more consistent players year-in and year-out, and less change in gameplay, it would stand to reason that the pros are the way to go.

Although these things are all true, each year, sportsbooks win a higher percentage of bettors’ money on NFL bets than in any other sport. This is the reason why so many serious sports gamblers turn to the college ranks to make their money.

College football provides an opportunity to bet on a wide range of games, meaning bettors have way more options when it comes to pulling the trigger on a particular play. It also means that you can be much more selective in finding the ideal conditions you’re looking for in a bet.

Because of all these options, bettors have created an endless number of strategies and systems that they’ve found success with over the years. In this article, I’ll dive into a few that you can add to your playbook to help add a few extra dollars to your bankroll come season’s end.

1 – Over Heat

It goes without saying, or at least it should, that checking the weather before betting on a game is something you should do. With that being said, knowing the weather report doesn’t do much good unless you know how to use the information effectively.

It’s true that wind, rain, and any other precipitation have a major impact on the game, but I believe temperature can be even more valuable.

Games that are played in hot temperatures tend to be dominated by the offense. The reasoning is that defenses tend to get worn out during the course of a game and heat exacerbates this phenomenon significantly.

When you’re going through your list of potential games to bet on, see if you can locate a few where the temperatures are going to be in the high 80s, 90s, or beyond and strongly consider betting the over.

As the season progresses, the weather cools down for most of the country, so focus on leagues like Pac-12 or Big 12 to find games with high temperatures. These leagues have a history of high-scoring offenses. Although bookmakers take this into account, you can still have major success betting the over.

2 – Road Warriors

Sports gamblers, especially amateur sports gamblers, have their biases. One major bias is towards the favorite, even when accounting for the spread. Some college football books report up to 60% to 70% (and even higher) of the total number of bets placed on the favorite against the spread.

Another bias that gamblers tend to have is overvaluing the home team. Although playing at home is unquestionably advantageous, it isn’t nearly as big of a factor as the general public thinks it is.

Becoming successful betting on underdogs is all about knowing the best circumstances to make your pick. One of the best times to board the underdog train is when you can find one who is getting just a few points on the road.

You might think that it’s better to choose an underdog receiving a lot of points, but this theory is unpredictable and often involves teams that have a huge talent disparity.

An underdog that’s getting less than seven points is likely to be at about the same level as the favorite.

When you factor in the “playing on the road,” oddsmakers use the public’s bias to their advantage. For example, Team A could be travelling to take on Team B. Team A is the better team, but because they’re on the road the sportsbooks put out a spread of Team A +4 points. They do this because they know the public will incorrectly take the home favorite.

Simply put, there’s no better time to choose an underdog than when they’re on the road and getting less than seven points.

3 – Bet on the Sleepers

Beating the online sportsbooks is extremely difficult in the NFL, and the same can be said about big time college football. It makes sense; the games that receive the most action are always going to be the most valuable for the sportsbooks.

You might be surprised to learn that the group of the top five teams against the spread from 2013 to 2019 doesn’t include Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, or any of the traditional powers. Instead, the schools with the best (at or around 60%) record against the spread are Temple, Navy, Duke, Colorado State, and Marshall.

College Football Player Running the Ball

That’s right, these overlooked teams have returned more money for bettors than any of the traditional top teams in the country. Because these teams typically receive very little action on their games, sportsbooks haven’t made them a huge focus. This has left the door open for gamblers to take advantage.

The same can be said for many of the NCAA’s non-power five teams. You can make money off these smaller programs by focusing on a handful of teams from smaller conferences. Get to know these teams and you’ll begin to find holes in the odds that can pay off big.

4 – Bet on Rest at Home

The college football season is a grind, and important players on every team get banged up each week. Getting a week off is crucial not only because it gives coaches an extra week to scheme, but it also provides an opportunity for a team to get healthy.

Typically, there aren’t many circumstances in which it’s advisable to take a favorite. With that said, following a bye week, college football teams that are a home favorite have a tendency to cover at a rate not usually seen with favorites in other situations.

Games that are played in hot temperatures tend to be dominated by the offense. The reasoning is that defenses tend to get worn out during the course of a game and heat exacerbates this phenomenon significantly.

From 2005 to 2019, home favorites that are coming off a bye have performed at a rate of 289-235 against the spread, which results in a 7.2% return on investment. If the home favorite coming off a bye is ranked at the time of the bye, their record climbs to 90-61 against the spread and results in a nearly 16% return on investment.

The data would suggest that taking a good team coming off a bye is one of the best bets if you’re looking to put spot the rare undervalued favorite.

5 – Counterintuitive Wins

If you frequently bet on sports, you’ll recognize that occasionally, there are lines that just don’t make sense. These are the games where sportsbooks maximize their winnings. The good news? If you know how to spot these games, you can also generate a nice profit.

One of the tried-and-true philosophies for college football sharps suggests that one of the best bets you can make is an unranked opponent that is a favorite playing against a ranked opponent.

Closeup of Cellege Football Player Catching Football

Remember that rankings aren’t necessarily a reflection of how good a team really is, but more so a reflection of their performance, strength of schedule, etc. Sportsbooks know that bettors automatically see ranked vs. unranked and assume that the ranked team is always better. When amateur gamblers see a ranked team that is actually getting points against an unranked team, they usually can’t resist.

In all cases, you want to think like the sportsbook. If you see something that feels like a trap, you might be onto something. Align yourself with the oddsmakers and you can also take advantage of the uninformed betting public.


College football is an American tradition that is celebrated every fall due to the passion, pageantry, and connection to one’s alma mater. This sacred time of year can also create a nice boost to your bankroll if you’re able to recognize the systems that work. Do some experimentation of your own and find which strategies work for you, and ride them all season long.