Teams With High Expectations Offer Little Value

College Football Betting: How High Expectations Kill Betting Value

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper,

When betting on college football, we always have to make sure we’re clearly distinguishing between things that are good for a fan and things that are good from a betting standpoint. As a fan, you want your team to have high expectations. You want them to have a high ranking and a few players who get a lot of national attention. It’s good to see your team have a good season and have it give way to another good season, or even a better one. But when betting on these teams, you don’t always want to see those things.

That doesn’t mean you want to see a team that has nothing but bad signs. All the top starters are gone. A new coach is in place. They’re coming off a disappointing season. We’re not looking for bad signs as indicators of good value. At the same time, when all signs point to a big season, the public will usually be onboard. When that happens, it has a way of sucking the value right out of a bet.

The general betting public likes to put their money behind winners. ESPECIALLY in college football! A team might be coming off a great season, has a few Heisman candidates, and is now appearing in the preseason rankings in a high spot. Those kinds of things all point toward a team that will be seeing a lot of support at the betting windows. When that happens, we might be getting the short end of the stick when it comes to wagering value.

The goal of a the savvy bettor is to identify good teams before the rest of the world knows they’re good. Once that team actually has that good season or two, it’s too late. Once a player becomes a star, it’s too late. Once they appear in the rankings and are getting a lot of publicity, it’s too late.

This is not a recipe–there aren’t any in college football betting. While teams with rampant hype and optimism might not always offer good value, blindly fading them all season is not the prescription for success. These are just signs to look for when deciding if a team will be of generally low value throughout the season. And some teams are more suited for covering certain spreads more than others. A team may thrive in the role of a small road underdog, while not covering spreads when they’re at home and favored by a bundle.


Still, at the beginning of a season, there are things to look for that can offer strong hints. A team that is highly ranked in the polls can be a bad sign. With some teams, it doesn’t matter. A team coming off a BCS title is obviously going to be ranked highly, especially if the main pieces are still in place. Or a team that won a major bowl and made a huge surge the previous season, they will rank high.

If a team that wasn’t that great, but maybe finished strongly, has a coach who is maybe in his second year, and has a few rising stars on the team ranks highly in the preseason polls, that’s a warning sign. A team coming off a big season is one thing, but if a team is being ranked for more subtle and prospective reasons, that’s a bad sign. If a team is ranked high for projected improvement, the value might not be that good.

The idea when betting against-the-spread week after week isn’t to project teams to win the BCS Championship. If doing that, things like high expectations, hyped players, and the like can be encouraging signs, even if it sucks the value dry. But if it’s early in the season and teams fitting that criteria are playing an off-the-radar team, how good can the value be? Sure, they’re going to cover some of those numbers, but for the most part, you will be looking at inferior betting value and that is poison to a bettor’s bottom line.

When betting on nationally-followed teams that are being hyped heavily, expect to not be getting a great number week in and week out. This does not mean that every team we bet on has to be an obscure squad that is off everyone’s radar. At the same time, a lot of money is made in college football betting by forcing yourself to look elsewhere when everyone’s eyes are focused on something shiny.

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