7 Step Checklist for Betting on NCAA Football Games

NCAA Football Players With Sportsbook Background

NCAA football gamblers have the benefit of having dozens of games every week during the season, and many different conferences to evaluate to find games that offer value. But most college football bettors don’t use any kind of checklist or system to help them find valuable lines to bet on.

Here’s an easy seven step checklist you can use when you bet on NCAA football games. Use this checklist for every game you evaluate to improve your chance to win.

1 – Coaching Matters

Coaching in NCAA football is more important than any other sport, but it’s not for the reason you probably think. The impact of coaching in college football is about the same as in any other sport of league when it comes to making players better.

The reason why coaches are so important in college football is because of how important recruiting is. The best coaches are the best recruiters. This includes college football head coaches and everyone on their staff.

Every season, the teams that do the best job recruiting new talent out of the high schools are the same teams that dominate the standings and rankings. Name the top five college football programs over the past five years.

You might have a slightly different list than I do, but most people are going to name five teams from this list:

  • Clemson
  • Alabama
  • Oklahoma
  • Ohio State
  • LSU
  • Georgia

Now take a look at where each of these teams ranked in the recruiting rankings over the past five years. You’re going to see that there’s a strong correlation between recruiting and winning. And coaches are the force behind recruiting.

Now, take this another step. Look at each conference in college football and rank the teams based on their recruiting rankings over the past five seasons. Now you know which teams should be the best in every conference, which is going to help you win more bets.

2 – Good and Terrible Kickers

This one isn’t going to take long, but it’s one of the most important things you can do. Most NCAA football gamblers ignore the kickers, but the difference between winning and losing many wagers is the difference of a missed field goal or extra point.

In college football there are only a few good kickers. The average college football kicker isn’t very good, and there are many terrible kickers in college.

Some teams have such a bad kicking game that they simply don’t even attempt a field goal when they’re outside the red zone. Make sure that you know how good or bad the kicker is on every team in NCAA football. And don’t forget about the punters. They also play an important role in field position, which helps you evaluate games too.

3 – Offense Is Overrated

It’s not that offense in college football isn’t important. Offense is very important. But the problem is that it’s not more important than defense, yet most NCAA football gamblers don’t value defense at the same level as they value offense.

When you’re evaluating NCAA football games take a balanced look at the offense and defense for each team. Do as much work as you need on both sides of the ball in order to do a good job in your evaluation, but don’t overvalue either side.

One of the most important things you can use when evaluating offenses and defenses in college football is speed. You can learn more about the importance of speed in the next section.

4 – Defensive Speed Is an Equalizer

One thing that’s difficult to track and gauge is defensive speed. But it’s also one of the most important things you need to understand if you want to do a good job evaluating NCAA football games. Speed on defense is one of the best equalizers for strong offensive play.

The main reason why speed is so hard to gauge is because the only ways to see it is when teams face other teams that are roughly equal in ability.

Many early season games have a strong team playing against a weak team. The strong team looks faster than the weak team because they usually are, but this doesn’t help you evaluate future games for either team.

The team that looks slow might be faster than most or all of their opponents once they get in league play and the team that looks faster might be slow when they play against teams in their conference.

NCAA Football Quarterback

This means that judging defensive speed is challenging. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have to try to use it just because it’s challenging.

You’re going to get better about judging defensive speed for every team as you start looking at it and trying to track it. You’re going to learn that some teams are built on speed and they focus on this in recruiting every year.

Look at the top teams in recruiting every year and you’re going to see that these teams usually have the fastest team speed on both side of the ball. But it’s also important to know which teams are the fastest in the smaller conferences.

The fastest team in a smaller conference might be slower than almost every team in a big conference, but still dominate their conference. This is the type of knowledge that makes a big difference if you want to win more college football wagers.

5 – Totals Are Deadly

This checklist point is more about what to avoid as it’s about what to do. Other than simply not handicapping games before they place bets, the biggest mistake I see college football gamblers make is on totals.

Totals, also called the over under line, are bets on whether the combined score of the two teams is going to be greater than or less than the listed number. A gambler looks at a game with two teams that have high scoring offenses and places a bet on the over.

Or the gambler looks at a game with two strong offensive teams and automatically places a bet on the under. Both of these strategies are mistakes.

The sportsbooks understand how most college football gamblers think, so they set the line sin these games to take advantage of them. As you’re going to learn more about in the next section, the only thing that’s important is to find value on one side or other of a line.

With totals, if there’s any value it’s usually on the other side of where most gamblers think it is. In a game with two strong defensive teams, the value is usually on the over. For the most part, I don’t find value on the total line in games with two high scoring offenses.

6 – The Lines Are More Important Than Everything Else

The only thing that matters in NCAA football for betting purposes is whether a line offers value or not. Value can be on either side of a line, and some games simply don’t offer any value. When a lone doesn’t offer value, you need to forget about the game and move on to another game.

You need to look at point spreads, totals, and moneylines to see if you can find value. And don’t look at lines with any type of bias. You don’t care what the lines are. You only care about finding the value, and this means that you look for value on both sides.

NCAA Football Players During Running Play

If you’re looking at a game and the home team is favored by 7 ½ points, this information alone doesn’t mean anything. This game might not offer any value, or it might offer value on the home team, or on the road team.

If you evaluate the game and the home team should win by 10, the value is on taking the home team and giving the 7 ½ points. But if your evaluation shows the home team should only win by 3 points, the value is on the road team taking the 7 ½ points. If you evaluate the game and see the home team should win by 7 points, the line doesn’t offer any value.

7 – Big Fish in Small Pond

One of the best ways to find valuable betting opportunities in NCAA football is to find the best teams in the middle and small conferences. These teams might not be the best teams in the country, but they can be used to make profitable bets in league play.

Too many college football gamblers place bets on teams in the big conferences and ignore the other conferences. But smart NCAA football gamblers know they can find more value when they evaluate smaller conference teams and games.


Now that you know what’s involved with finding value on NCAA football games, you need to start using this checklist for every game you evaluate. Coaches are more important in college football than other sports and it’s important not to overvalue offenses.

Look for opportunities involving the best teams in the smaller conferences, and don’t forget speed and the kicking game. This checklist is going to make it easier to find value when you’re evaluating college football teams and games.