College Football Trends

College Football Handicapping Tips: Trends and the Public

By Loot, College Football Handicapper,

Systems and Trends

If you’ve been betting on college football for any length of time, you are no stranger to the litany of systems and trends that people throw around. You might hear how SEC teams are 20-5 in their last 25 against the spread when playing their second straight home game. Or how teams playing a Thursday game are 14-4 when coming off a straight-up loss of more than 20 points. It can get downright ridiculous.

The problems with these are numerous. First of all, there is no substitute for hard work–actually handicapping the game. Any system that takes the handicapping out of it can’t be terribly good. Instead of looking at pertinent data, you just go off games that had nothing to do with the teams that are playing or the spread. That’s bad betting.

If something works, it’s hard to slam it. But you’ll notice that the sample sizes are not nearly large enough to substantiate a hard and fast conclusion. For a trend or system to work, there needs to be hundreds of results. If after 10 years, a pattern continues to produce after a plethora of results have shown that it works–that’s one thing. But to jump on a trend based on what is relatively a small handful of results can be a bad move.

Many trends are simply an aberration. Like if you tossed a coin 20 times and managed to get 14 tails, that shouldn’t serve as an invitation to start betting on tails from here on out. If anything, your move will likely be ill-timed. Because by the time you hop on a trend, the mojo is about to expire.

In addition, the Bookies are all over it. If they see that a system is working, they begin to shade the number, thus quickly rendering it an unprofitable move.

Public Opinion

Also remember to not pay much mind if whether or not the public sides with you. This strikes at the heart of being human. We like to feel our position is seconded, or that even a majority of people feel the same way we do. Whether it’s ideas about family, politics, philosophy–we like to know there are a lot of people in our corners. It gives us a comfortable feeling to know we’re not stuck on an island all by ourselves.

But in college football betting–try to look for the opposite approach. Think about how few bettors actually make it in this crazy world of college football betting. Then take a look at how the books, or at least the good ones, are all still up and running–earning profits. Now whose side do you want to be on? Not to imply that you should always go out of your way to be on the opposite side of the public, but college football betting is not an area of life where we should be looking for public support.

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While not over-valuing the public opinion, we need to be aware of how they affect lines. We’re not talking about betting sharps here, just the general public. What do they generally like? They like the glamor teams and high-scoring games. That’s what they want to see and it’s what they enjoy. So naturally, a lot of action is wagered on nationally-treasured teams and more money is generally put on the “over.” This offers you some insights into how you should bet. The public moves the line, so stay abreast of the ramifications going into each game you might want to wager.

For example, if a pair of high-octane offensive teams are facing each other–the public is naturally anticipating a high score. The total will come out early in the week and in a case like this–it could very well creep up significantly. So you know you’re probably going to get better value by taking the “under.” In addition, you can wait because you know the number will probably keep creeping up there–giving you the best possible value on your wager.

The same applies to sides. You see Boise State is opening as 14-point favorites. You know the public loves favorites and that Boise State is a nationally-followed team with a lot of support. If you like Boise State that week–it might be a good idea to get an early jump on that -14 spread. That number is far more likely to go up than it is to go down. Or if you happen to like the underdog, waiting might allow you to extract several more points in your favor.