There are so many unknowns entering the college football season that it’s difficult to get a grip on which teams have improved and which have regressed.
Let’s talk about five critical elements that every college football bettor should know when evaluating the NCAAF odds board at the very start of the season.
1. Coaching Changes
Every season we see a carousel of coaches and with each move comes an entirely new offensive and defensive scheme. Some players will thrive under the new system while others will struggle, but the one constant is that most of these coaches will agree to design schemes that will highlight their star players.
If they don’t, well, they won’t get the job unless their resume is so thoroughly replete with successes that the administration bows to any and all demands. There are few coaches with that kind of cachet but they exist and hooking a big fish like that can do wonders for future recruiting classes and the buzz surrounding the program.
Research Is Vital
So, what’s it all mean to the average bettor who wants to plunk down a few bucks on college football after months of waiting? The key factor is to review what kind of offense the coach has implemented at other stops and whether a pass-happy scheme will work with the weapons at his disposal.
Or maybe he’s old school and likes to run, run, and run some more until the defensive line is dragging and then he switches to an aerial attack that will allow the quarterback plenty of time in the pocket after wearing down the big uglies in the trenches. Does he have the ground attack to pull it off?
Sure, it’s research that can be very helpful but few bettors want to put in the time and energy. That’s fair but we would suggest you use the tools at OddsTrader like our AI picks or Power Rankings to assist in your handicapping process
2. Transfer Portal
The college football transfer portal is brimming with activity these days with young kids making the jump the moment their jobs are not guaranteed. Each player is essentially a free agent and free to leave for a new program that will “appreciate their talents”.
The problem is, that not all of these players are as talented as their friends and family would lead them to believe.
Regardless, it is critical you keep up with their comings and goings because the average bettor will be betting on a team because of the quarterback, only to find he has skipped town and is playing somewhere else.
3. Incoming Freshmen
Recruits are the lifeblood of any college football program and the bigger the school, the better the prospects. That’s generally the way it goes because the blue chippers want national exposure as their end game is to play at the next level.
It’s impossible to fully gauge how these 18-year-olds will impact a big-time program but the more the merrier. There are plenty of publications and sites that will rank each college’s recruiting class and speculate on the impact of each.
4. Bet Outside the Power 5
The SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and ACC all have the household names we know and love…and sometimes loathe. These are the Power 5 conferences and the oddsmakers bite their fingernails and wipe the sweat off their brows before dealing lines on these games because they know these are the games that will attract the most attention – and the most money.
But an interesting strategy is getting to know the teams outside the Power 5 like the MAC, Conference USA, and Mountain West.
You can sometimes find stale lines, especially on a football Saturday when there are dozens upon dozens of games. A late scratch to a star quarterback from a team like Wyoming could go unnoticed leaving ample opportunity to pounce on the other side.
5. Bet Underdogs
Blindly betting underdogs does not guarantee success in Week 0 and Week 1, but the lines are often inflated because the public loves to bet on two things – favorites and overs. It’s just what they do and it causes the oddsmakers to skew the lines in those directions, allowing value on the dogs and the unders.
You will find that the big schools often have cannon fodder on their early schedules and will be harnessed with absurd lines that will be in the 30s, 40s, or 50s.
And while it might make sense to take a flier on betting a huge underdog against a national power early in the season, it is far from a sure thing as teams like Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, et al, will often be licking their chops to show the world how good this year’s edition truly is.
Our advice is to stay away from the national teams and instead look for opportunities with double-digit dogs in season openers that involve lower-tier teams. Oftentimes they are not as prepared as the big boys and can be caught towing too big a line.
Do Your Homework
Remember, there is no magic bullet for winning in the opening weeks of college football but doing your homework and soliciting opinions from handicappers you respect are two excellent places to start.
There is also a stable of expert cappers that post informative articles daily at OddsTrader’s Betting Strategy Blog.
Here you can find out what the pros are picking on most of the college football games throughout the week.
OddsTrader has several valuable resources free to its readers so make sure to use them and start a winning tradition in your college football picks!