The Importance of Original Insight

College Football Betting: The Importance of Original Insight

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper,

When we bet on college football, there are literally mountains of information for bettors to sift through before they place a bet. Some of us have lives and cannot be expected to spend more time than coaches looking at these games. One avenue you can take is in disregarding the obvious and depending more on self-generated gems of insight.

A lot of bettors focus on things like stats, match-ups, weather, past performances, and all the things that are considered a part of a general handicapping model. That’s all good stuff and there are certainly edges to be gained within that information. It’s just that we are sometimes limited when relying on the exact same information that the oddsmakers and bookies are considering left-and-right.

In other words, if we see a game with two passing offenses that will be plagued by bad weather and therefore take the under, that’s sort of obvious. The bookie knows the affects bad weather has on passing offenses and he set the total accordingly. Or maybe you noticed a college running back typically torches the opposing defense. Or that a team has beaten its opponent 11 of the last 12 games. None of this is getting by the bookie. It’s pretty obvious stuff.

We sometimes miss the boat when we try to butt heads with the big boys along the lines of information that is plainly visible for all to see. We’re not going to out-handicap the real players in this business through facts and figures. We need to look beyond the scope of the normal fodder that goes into creating a college football point-spread. And there are things that the bookies either disregard or give less attention to when setting a number.

If you bet on college football for a while, you will soon be able to look back and see that some of your most well-executed bets came from a feeling, rather than from a stat. Part of our psychology is the innate ability to sense when something is due. Sometimes, our feeling cannot even be explained. Without getting into the whole topic of the limits of human language, suffice to say that not all feelings can be explained with words. It’s visceral. It’s guttural. A team just stands out to you and if forced to explain it, you’d struggle to come up with a reason. That doesn’t mean it’s not real or that it isn’t worth anything.

A component of this is when you are able to sense a college team’s motivation, momentum, or inertia. If watching a team closely enough, you start to develop a sixth-sense for how they will perform. Their sense of urgency, a critical indicator of how a team will play, is something you can tap into almost instinctively. For a good team, that means sensing if they will keep playing well or if they’re due for a letdown. With a struggling team, you can start to sense little tremors that forecast an earthquake.

Even on a less-guttural level, you will see a lot of point-spreads that aren’t in line with the teams level of urgency and their general motivation. All teams, even good ones, experience varying levels of urgency even in a single season where every contest counts. The spread doesn’t always take that into consideration.


You will come across teams with all different kinds of mindsets. A team that was supposed to be really good is 4-4. They don’t have much margin for error if they want to make the playoffs and should be feeling some urgency in the next game. But if a team that no one thought was going to be good is 7-2, are they going to be in the same mind-space? Take expectations and momentum into account and where a team stands to find clues as to how they’ll perform.

Look for reasons for players or even coaches to have a little extra edge–to play with a little more of a mean streak based on some past personal issues. There can be hidden storylines that can offer a lot of insight. Maybe a quarterback who was recruited by a team who preferred a different QB will be going the extra mile to stick it that team. Or maybe a coach who was interviewed by a team and not hired will put a few extra hours in the film-room that week. Look for information that tells a story.