Analyzing NCAA Football Betting Odds

Navigating NCAA Football betting odds can get tricky. But we got your back.

Key Points

– Analyzing NCAA football betting odds can help the college football bettor improve his winning percentage. 

– There are a number of areas in which to look for favorable NCAA football betting odds.

Need to Know – NCAA Football Betting Odds

In terms of popularity, betting on college football games rivals that of the NFL. College football bettors can’t wait for a season to begin so they can start cranking out point spread and totals bets.

Unlike baseball which lends itself to moneyline bets, college football is more of a point spread and totals sport. So, how do college football bettors succeed? Part of betting success in the sport comes from analyzing NCAA football betting odds.

If you know what to look for, you can increase your chances of success. Here’s what you can do. But before we do get into it, there’s something else you can do. Pro handicapper win percentages are high enough that you don’t have to worry. They have your back if you’re too busy.

Understand the Sport

College football is not the NFL. There are 131 FBS programs right now. Teams typically carry around 100 players on their rosters and there is a huge difference between the Alabamas and Ohio States of the world and New Mexico State and Connecticut. 

NFL bettors do not see very many double-digit point spreads. In college football, bettors are not surprised when they see a point spread of over 20, 30, or even 40! There are vast differences in talent between the best teams in the country and those programs that simply aren’t as good.

Whereas the worst team in the NFL could – and has – beat the best team in the league, the worst team in college football would repeatedly get smacked around by the best. Upsets do happen in college football, but there is not as much parity like there is in the NFL.

Home Field Advantage & NCAA Football Betting Odds

When analyzing NCAA football betting odds, one of the first things bettors may look at is which team is at home. Playing at home is a bigger deal in college football than it is at the NFL level. 

When you are talking about teenagers and early 20-year-olds having to travel to and screw up their routines, playing at home has its advantages. However, home field advantage is most often overvalued. 

Home field advantage is factored into NCAA football betting odds. Casual bettors love home teams and sportsbooks often shade lines toward them. The result is that the betting public often bets on overpriced home favorites. Smarter bettors know when to tail and fade the public.

The reality is that roughly 59 percent of home teams win. Against the spread, it’s a completely different story. Since 2005, home college football teams have won against the spread just 48.8 percent of the time. 

That means a $100 bettor wagering on every home team to cover would have lost over $48K over that time period. The bottom line is to be careful when analyzing college football odds and home teams.

The Thing about Road Underdogs

If you simply bet on favorites all the time, your bankroll probably isn’t going to grow very much. You need to win just over 52 percent of the time (assuming -110 odds) just to break even. That’s why it pays to bet on strong college football underdogs from time to time.

There are certain situations where betting the underdog makes a ton of sense. One of those situations is the short road underdog. By short, we are talking about an underdog that is getting four or fewer points (+4).

The betting public, as we already know, loves home teams. The other thing the public likes is favorites. Combine the two – home favorites – and the public just gets giddy. What makes it even better is when a home favorite is laying four or fewer points (-4) at top offshore sportsbooks. That means a home favorite only has to win by five or more points. The public loves those types of home favorites.

Road Dogs Upset Home Favorites 47% of the Time

The reality is that road underdogs actually upset home favorites just over 47 percent of the time. Since 2005, road dogs are 532-598 (47.1%). Yes, that’s a losing record, but because of plus-money odds on the moneyline a bettor would actually be up well over 80 units. 

What’s even more eye-opening is that road underdogs actually win against the spread at an even higher rate. Since 2005, road underdogs are 600-508 ATS (54.2%). Betting college football road underdogs is a strategy worth considering when analyzing odds.

The other situation where it pays to look at a road underdog is when there is a low total. Low totals favor underdogs for one simple reason. Fewer points makes it more difficult for a favorite to cover the spread. 

In games with a total of 50 or less since 2005, road underdogs have gone 1062-933 ATS (53.2%). If you take the total down to 45 or less, the ATS winning percentage goes up to 54.6%. When the road underdog with a total of 45 or less is facing a conference opponent, the ATS winning percentage goes even higher – 55.9%. Familiarity with the opponent favors the underdog.

Watch the Schedule When Analyzing NCAA Football Betting Odds

College teams play a 12-game regular season schedule. Teams can schedule games during the last week of August, which is commonly referred to as Week 0. The final week of the season is known as Week 15. Typically, the only game on the schedule is the annual Army-Navy rivalry.

That means college teams have roughly 15 to 16 weeks to play 12 games. That means that teams will have an off week. One area where bettors can do some analyzing is on home favorites coming off a bye week.

Teams get that extra week to get healthier. Members of a coaching staff are able to prepare better for an upcoming opponent. The results are something that bettors should keep an eye out for.

Since 2005, home favorites after a bye week are 289-235 ATS (55.2%). When those home favorites are ranked in the AP Top 25, the numbers are even better. Ranked home favorites after an off week are 90-61 ATS (59.6%) beating the spread nearly 60 percent of the time. 

Keep an eye on the schedule and look for home favorites coming off a bye week.