Overlooked Components of Betting on NCAA Football

Smiling NCAAF Player With a Sportsbook Background

If opportunities are what you’re after, college football betting has them in spades. With roughly fifty games to choose from each week, there’s bound to be a few where the sportsbooks simply miss on their lines – but will you be able to spot it?

Whether you’re the type of bettor who likes to stick to power five conference games only, or someone who only puts money on small, under the radar conference games, these tips will still apply.

In this article, I’ll lay out six commonly-overlooked components of betting on college football.

Team Schedule

If you’re a college football fan, and for the sake of the article I’ll assume you are, there’s a good chance you know the win-loss record of most of the top teams. Obviously, when you go to make a bet you’re going to see this information.

Although you might know the overall record, and even may be able to recall a specific loss, are you really well-versed in a team’s entire schedule? If not, it’s worth your time to do your research and find out.

Sportsbooks rely on bettors who make not uninformed, but semi-informed decisions. That is to say, if you don’t know anything you can’t be manipulated into making a certain play.

The single-best way to get an edge against your gambling peers, and thus the house, is to look back at each team’s schedule game by game. Yes, it can be tedious, but the results will quickly help you see the value in doing so.

I’m not suggesting that it’s necessary to read the box scores and game recaps of each prior matchup a team has had in the season, but I would say that it’s in your best interest to at least look at the final results. You’d be surprised at how much your opinion of a team can change when you see who they’ve beat and who they’ve lost to, and by how many points.

Weather (For Totals Specifically)

The over/under, or total, is probably the most popular way to bet on sports outside of playing the spread. Whereas NFL spreads tend to stay within a somewhat-reliable, predictable range (42 to 50 usually), NCAA spreads can get well into the 60s, and even higher than that on occasion.

Your first stop when trying to evaluate whether the over or the under is the right call should be the schedule – this might be a theme throughout the article. Be wary when the total number hasn’t been hit before in any game. For example, if the over/under in the Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State game is 68 and neither team has played in a game that has gone over 68, it might be best to lay off.

NCAAF Game With Bad Weather

After the schedule, weather should be a top priority. It sounds like a frivolous thing to know, but when you think about the games taking place in late November and through December, it’s clear that weather can have a real impact.

If you’re like most, there have been games that you’ve bet the over only to turn on the game and see that it’s a rainstorm with 25 MPH winds. It’s a bad feeling knowing that this probable sports betting mistake could have been avoided if you simply took a second to get an overview of the forecast.

Keep in mind that most bettors aren’t going to go as far as to look up the weather predictions, so you’re gaining a very real advantage by doing so yourself. Yes, most of the time it’s not going to give you an indication on way or another, but when the weather is extreme (as it often is in the winter in the north), it might help you get an easy win – if such a thing exists.

Long Distance Traveling

When it comes to evaluating the impact of playing on the road versus playing at home, it’s crucial to recognize that not all road trips are created equal. That is to say a trip to the cross-town rival is not going to have the same fatiguing impact as cross-country affair.

It’s well known that teams occasionally have to contend with the impact long-distance travel can have on both the body and the ability to prepare. Now, to be fair, most games are going to be between teams that aren’t geographically distant. But, that’s not to say there aren’t still several matchups that require significant travel.

The next time you’re going through the Saturday schedule and looking to make picks, try to identify the teams who have to travel the longest distance. Take the home team in these matchups and see if you’re able to identify a pattern that could help you be successful moving forward.

The bottom line is that it’s impossible to truly predict the impact travel will have on a team. However, suffice it to say that the longer the distance, the more impact it will have.

Group of Five Conferences

The most frustrating part about betting big-time college sports, whether you’re talking about basketball or football is that the best players seem to leave as quickly as they came in. For this reason alone, I’ve developed a real affinity for betting on group of five conference games.

If you’re unfamiliar, the group of five refers to the conferences that aren’t the Big 10, Big 12, ACC, Pac 12, and SEC. And although most casual football fans don’t typically stray from these conferences, bettors should certainly do so.

College Football Players Celebrating

The players in these group of five conferences almost always stay for their entire 4-year college career. Most importantly, the quarterbacks stick around. This gives bettors an advantage because the data from previous years becomes more reliable.

One other benefit to betting on group of five conference games over power five conference games is that sportsbooks don’t place quite as much emphasis on the odds for these games. When the sportsbooks know there’s not going to be a ton of action on a specific game, it becomes less of a priority.

If you truly get to know the teams and conferences that fly under the radar, there is plenty of money to be made.

Sticking With Only One Sportsbook

The more games that are out there, the more variability you’ll see between sportsbooks. On an NFL Sunday, you can and should line shop, but the variance isn’t going to be significant. However, if you’re talking about 50+ NCAA games, you’ll find some differences.

Sticking with one sportsbook is like only utilizing one website to do all of your shopping (pre-Amazon). It just doesn’t really make sense to limit your options when it only takes a minute or two to look around for something better.

Whether you can pick up a point or two, or get some more favorable money lines, it’s always worth your time to have a few sportsbooks on hand to utilize any time you’re looking to make some picks.

Bankroll Management Is Key

It might not seem like it, but money management is much more important to long-term success than simply being good at picking games. It becomes even more critical when you’re dealing with a high volume of games.

I could write a whole article about all the different aspects of sports bankroll management, but for the sake of brevity I will only mention one here: don’t chase your losses out of frustration.

NCAAF Player Running the Ball

Everyone has bad Saturdays where it seems like nothing is breaking your way. Don’t make a bad situation worse by trying to double down on your late-night picks in an effort to make up for the losses you suffered earlier in the day.

Losing is part of betting on sports. It’s an inevitability. How you react to your losses in your money management strategy is what separates those who have long-term profitability and those who need to reload their bankroll on a weekly basis.


College football has, inarguably, more opportunities to make money than betting on the NFL. Finding weak spots in the odds is challenging, but it’s something that you can improve upon with time.

Before making any of your selections, consider the advice on this list. It might not turn you into a professional gambler, but if you can save yourself a few losses here and there, it makes a big impact on your bottom line. The razor thin line between profitability and losing means every bet matters.