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If It Looks Too Good to Be True...

College Football Betting: If it Looks Too Good To Be True…

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper,

We will often find in life that the most worthwhile things come from the times where it wasn't easy. Maybe it was a great job or a person we had to work hard to get to know. And of course, we've all heard and experienced the expression "If it's too good to be true, it probably is" to different extents. And in college football betting, the same dynamic often plays out with our betting. The things that appear too easy usually are. And when it looks like it's easy money, or as some in this biz say, a lock," disaster is usually lurking right around the corner.

In this business, nothing is for sure. They take two teams and instill a point spread. Against the spread, there may be some good bets, propositions that are better than others, but a sure thing? It doesn't exist. And the more you think it's a lock, the more vulnerable that bet might actually be. When building a case that a team will certainly cover the spread, there is likely something wrong with your approach.

What can sometimes happen is that we get carried away when making a case for a team to cover the spread. Inertia takes over. The snowball begins building as we get carried away making positive points to the case we started building. Once people lock onto a point, it can be hard to get them off that point and you see this a lot in college football betting.

One of the things that happens when inertia takes over is that we develop a blind spot with the other team. We become too enamored with our pick that we stop looking at things the other team does well. We need to look at both sides of the bet with equanimity. We need to break down the entire game and when we're done, we make our pick. A lot of people see a point spread that looks tasty and they start building a case to suit taking the team they had initially selected by just looking at the spread. That's not how it's done.

A lot of our picks is based on past performances. So when we get a pick that looks great, there were likely some big wins that preceded that. Then we jump onboard and expect the machine to dutifully chug along. But these are young men playing. And that's why the typical college team has many different manifestations in a season. They're not dependable. And if a team is doing really well, that team will likely need to cover a sizeable point spread.

What you'll find when feeling overly-confident about a team is that there is actually another team on the field—a squad with their own hopes and dreams. And often times, we expect the opponent to merely follow the little script we have in our head. But no one is privy to our script. Nobody cares. And the team you bet against, the team that you're positive won't cover the spread, will seldom be as dead as your forecast suggested. Because remember, you spent all your time on what you thought was good about the team you bet, while ignoring the other team.

In other words, it's not like we're the directors of a movie and everyone is going to kowtow to how we picture the game unfolding. Football games are played with any number of impossible-to-predict variables that lead to your analysis having only so much credence.

We are accustomed to taking strong stands in life. Look at the way people discuss politics. Very few people give credit to the other side. They demonize the other side. They are either 100% onboard with one candidate or the other. And there are countless other aspects of life where people are very black-or-white in how they look at things. There is no black and white when picking college pigskin games against the spread.


What that means is that we need to give credit to both sides of the bet. If we can't for the life of us see how a team cannot cover the spread, we're guilty of some major oversight that is preventing us from perceiving the game correctly. And in order to make a bet, we don't have to be utterly convinced that we're going to cover the spread. We just need to think they have a better-than-average chance. Because if you think the chances are any better than that, you just might be falling into a trap.

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