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Is It Just Chaos?

College Football Betting: Is it Just Chaos?

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper,

There will be times when watching college football where you'll wonder if there's any science to this. There's dozens of youngsters running around the field. Refs are fouling up left and right. And there we are trying to get a read on it. There will be times when it occurs to us that this is sheer chaos. And to a large degree, it would be understandable for those who felt that way.

It can feel like there's a haphazardness to it all. We sit there and we try to handicap a game. We consider a bunch of different factors and crank out a pick, hopefully one of good value where we're getting to good end of the value stick. And then you tune in to watch the game and it's a big mish-mosh that looks impossible for you to put your finger on. Believe it or not, there are things you can do to insulate yourself from what appears to be utter randomness deciding your bets.

Power of Being Consistent: The element of consistency can be an elusive trait when evaluating college football teams. A large number of teams will have wildly divergent performances throughout a season. One week, they over-perform and then the next week, it looks like they're aimlessly groping for something on the field. A consistent team will at least have a more-narrow window of form—something easier to get a read on.

When we look at potential college football team on which to wager, we usually evaluate that team on the basis of how good that team may be. Fair enough. That's certainly something we should consider. But more important than how good that team might be is how consistent they are. That's what we should really be focusing on. And not all consistent teams are good teams, mind you. Some are. But consistent teams cover the entire gamut. A mediocre team can be a consistently-performing team. Even a bad team can be a dependable product, with most of their performances falling within a certain, more-predictable range. When betting on a team, consistency is a highly-valued trait. It might mean we're betting less into the dark, as we would be with a team where you never know what to expect.

Sticking to Best Picks: Where we start running into trouble is when we deviate from our A-list picks and go further down our list to make selections. We all enter the college football betting weekend with good intentions, which might unravel a bit, especially if we start losing. Then we bet on things where we really don't know what to expect. And usually, we end up incredulous over a game we bet where it looks like our team is floundering around like a fish. Sticking to our top picks where we valued to component of consistency is one way to insulate yourself from some of the madness you encounter when going off the grid.

Teams with an Identity: Try to insulate yourself from the randomness and chaos of college football by focusing more on teams who actually have a concrete identity. Again, this doesn't necessarily relate to the overall quality of a team, but rather their identity—what the team is generally trying to on a week-to-week basis as they build toward something better.

When you watch teams, either good, mediocre, or bad, they will either have a clear and spelled-out identity, with roles clearly identified for each player. Other teams are out there winging it, just trying to find something that works. They're not an easy team to describe because it's not abundantly clear what they're trying to do. It's more about whatever happens to work on that given day. These types of teams can sometimes achieve good results, but from a consistency standpoint, they can leave something to be desired.

Youth: It's a bit curious how angry college football bettors become over the course of betting. It's almost as if they forgot this game is comprised by amateurs. Even some of the players that actually shine have no future in this sport when college ends. They are amateurs and on top of that—they're kids. Some of us have to think back pretty far to remember when we this age. But chances are, we were not the best candidates to bet money on. Youth brings unreliability, inconsistency, and yes, amateurism.


It's one thing to take a pro athlete to task for not doing the job that he's paid millions of dollars to perform. Our expectations have to be lowered when dealing with non-professionals. It's like if hire a professional landscaper to work on your lawn and the job is done poorly, you are within your rights to call out that individual for quality-control. If the neighbor's 12-year old kid is hired for landscaping work, the standards decrease. The additional levels of chaos that is apparent in the college football ranks more or less has to be expected. It's the nature of doing business.

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