Preparing to bet on college football is a bit different from getting ready for the NFL season. First of all, the college game plays a lot differently because teams are trying to be nationally ranked. That means that it is not always enough to simply win – a blowout is preferred over a close victory, as putting a lot of points on the board can generate interest from the national media and boost rankings.
Plus, there is no preseason in the NCAA. Instead, you have to rely on early nonconference play to give you a sense of each team. Finally, college football, unlike the NFL, is not known for its parity. Therefore, wins are often fairly evident until you layer in the spread.
Every year in the late summer, the college previews for every Division I football team are posted and published. These publications are filled with information regarding the players, coaches, last year’s record, and previous bowl game performance. Teams are ranked and players highlighted. These previews are useful in that they allow you to become familiar with each club and to begin to understand each team’s potential. However, once the season starts, college football previews quickly lose their value.
Nonconference Lineup and Strength of Schedule
What is each club’s nonconference lineup? Are there some games that seem as though they will be blowouts? Is there a game or two in which an underdog could play the spoiler – or can you identify a team with a soft schedule that will allow them to dominate?
Consider the strength of a team’s schedule, including conference and nonconference games. You may find a team from a smaller conference that traditionally does well, covering the spread, in an out of conference contest against a very tough opponent.
How did a team perform last year, and how has the roster changed since last season? You may find a team that was marginal last year, but this season, due to upgrades and experience, they look ready to breakout and dominate. Don’t just consider a team’s record from last season, but rather think about how various factors have changed in relationship to the upcoming season and how these changes may affect a team’s win/loss record.
Veterans and Rookies
Are there any returning upperclassmen who are major difference makers, new players that might make an impact, or transfers that will upgrade the team? A college football team with an experienced offensive line and a multi-talented quarterback can be dominant. On the other side of the ball, a club that boasts a strong, quick and veteran defense may successfully shutdown opponents.
If the team lost players from last season, were they important? If so, have they been replaced by players who have similar skills and talent? A mediocre team that has recently experienced an upgrade (through transfers or a strong recruiting class) may be poised to surprise the college football world. If you can identify these teams early in the year, you can find favorable spreads on their games.
Coaches and Program Strength
It is important to analyze how long the coach has been associated with the program and how successful he has been. What you find in college football is that coaches that have put up winning numbers consistently continue to do so. They will usually use their winning reputation to recruit new stars. That is, as long as there has not been a major controversy or scandal.
Did a popular coach leave, was an unpopular one fired and replaced by one with a solid reputation, and is the rest of the staff solid? Has the football program been able to attract and retain talented players? Is there a tradition of winning at the school? These are all important questions.
Look for Value
In preparing to bet on the college football season, you want to look for value. You cannot assess real value until the spreads and totals are posted. But you can start to see the teams that, at some point, may offer you a golden opportunity to cash in on a point spread that’s too big or small, or an over/under that has been miscalculated.
The best way to find value in your prep work is to discover teams whose abilities and potential have been either underestimated or overrated. Then get ready for a wild ride of weekly sports betting, as more than fifty college football games are handicapped each week.