Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

College Football Betting Trends

When it comes to betting on college football, trends can be incredibly important and indicative of how a game will play out. That’s particularly the case in instances where sportsbooks have yet to get wise to a trend and have not properly adjusted their lines yet. However, while some trends are potential gold mines, others are relatively worthless. It’s important to identify the two in order to be a winner in college football betting.

Good trends vs. bad trends

We’ve all seen useless trends before. In baseball, you might see someone claim that the Colorado Rockies are a great bet because they have won nine of their last ten Tuesday night games. Or you might see a stat that says the Oakland Athletics are 7-2 over their last nine games when their opponent has allowed three runs or less in their previous game. While these stats are a bit curious, they do not have any sort of impact on the upcoming game. They should not factor into your handicapping at all and hold no sway on the betting line.

Similarly, college football has its own set of worthless trends that people use to try to justify their wager. One of the most common trends that you will see people advertise is a team’s historic record over an upcoming opponent. Someone may believe that a team is undervalued by the NCAAF betting odds simply because the school is 8-2 ATS over its last 10 games against a particular opponent. That’s no way to handicap a college football game and you will lose more often than you win if that’s your justification for a particular bet.

For example, let’s say the Texas Longhorns have covered each of their last six games against the Colorado State Rams. Let’s assume that these games took place in 1984, 1985, 1996, 2001, 2010, and 2016. There is no reason to factor the Longhorns’ historic ATS record against the Rams into your handicapping. These two teams may have had the bulk of the same players in two of the six games, but all the other variables, including the person patrolling the sidelines for each team, are likely to change in that time. There’s no way that this hypothetical trend would have any impact on the CFB betting line for a future game between these two teams. A person espousing this trend is either clueless or trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

One more trend that you can pretty much throw out the window is a school’s recent record in non-conference games. This essentially overlaps with a school’s recent record, and while that can be a decent trend to play, the non-conference part is unnecessary. It’s entirely possible for the CFB betting odds to just overvalue a team over the course of a season or successive seasons, particularly if that team has a huge following like Michigan or Notre Dame. However, claiming that would only be the case in non-conference games is a stretch.

Trends that have profitable potential

There are some trends that a shrewd bettor can find value in though. For one reason or another, these trends may be overlooked by the sportsbooks, or they could just be slightly miscalculated, giving the bettor an advantage.

Recent ATS record

This is the most common trend you will see used. While books are typically quick to adjust to a team’s play on a weekly basis in a sport with a relatively short schedule like college football, there are times when they either adjust too much or not enough. This is especially the case when a team has very high or very low expectations coming into the season. The CFB betting odds will continually overvalue or undervalue these teams for some time, giving you the opportunity to make some money.

Record on a particular type of field

One of the most continually underrated trends involves the type of field a team is playing on. At first glance, this may seem to have a negligible effect on a spread or particular outcome, but it definitely has an impact. Pass-first teams tend to perform better on turf or artificial surfaces than they do on grass, while run-first teams typically play better on grass. It is important to note that this trend can run parallel to weather, especially in the later months of the college football season, so keep that in mind when using this trend.

Total points

The rationale for this trend is along the same lines as that of a team’s recent ATS record. Sportsbooks may undervalue or overvalue a quarterback, or an offense, leading to some value in the total. This happens with defenses as well, with sportsbooks potentially overvaluing or undervaluing a defense or defensive coordinator by a couple points. Since totals don’t see as much betting for college football as sides, you might find some real great opportunities here.

Homefield advantage

Some stadiums are tougher to play in than others. The atmosphere, crowd, weather and location factor into this and sportsbooks give certain teams more respect in this area than others. There is the potential for you to find a winning trend here, and this is an area where you can be rewarded for thinking outside of the box. For instance, if a big event is in a nearby town that weekend and is scheduled for the same time, it could lead to depressed attendance and a less hostile environment for the road team. That would give them some extra value against the CFB odds that week.

Record after a bye week

In recent years, one of the most popular trends has been a team’s record following a bye week. Although this isn’t important from the perspective of players historically, it can be for coaches. There are some coaches that are much better at watching film and creating gameplans than others, and these coaches will have a much bigger advantage after a bye week than their counterparts. This can be a factor during bowl season too, but there are a host of other things at play during that time of the year.

Betting Trends by Week:

Week 0

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