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Key Points to Remember

College Football Handicapping Tips: Key Points to Remember

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper,

People who bet on college football have been increasingly attracted to the money line. When betting the money line, you aren’t dealing with a point-spread and that is a very attractive feature for many bettors. Perhaps they like a favored team, but they just feel that the team will win. They can bet that team on the money line and just forget about points.

If you are betting on an underdog, you might want to benefit if they win the game outright. Especially with a small underdog at 3 points and less--a lot of times the score will not fall in the 1-3 point-range. If you can take a team that is +3 at -110 and give up the 3 point buffer and just get +130 or more to win--it’s worth some consideration. If you have a strong read, maybe put half on the spread and the other half on the money line.

Whatever wagers we make, let’s not forget to recognize our weaknesses. When betting on college football, it’s a lot more difficult to become familiar with all the teams. In college football, there are many more teams and unless you’re Rainman--it’s going to be impossible to be well-versed with all the different conferences. But with so much cross-conference play, there are going to be times when teams you are familiar with play teams that are off your radar.

When betting college football, you should stay within your strengths. When you start going off the grid, your bets will become less scientific and more speculative. With college football betting, we are trying to isolate good spots where we have an advantage. If you don’t know anything about the Sun-Belt Conference, how are you going to find a good spot?

Here’s an interesting betting tidbit: Finding good value on lower-end teams facing national powers in bowl games. (Good read: Betting on Bowl Games) As a preemptive warning, any system is highly suspect. (Another good read: Why Betting Systems Don't Work) When you bet on something on the basis of unconnected data from the past, it is likely to fail. But this is not a system so much as a handicapping quirk that happens in bowl season and other games as well. It’s when a higher-ranked and more glorified team faces a lower-echelon team.

Imagine, just as an example, that Texas opened the season with high hopes, but ended up having a disappointing season. It wasn’t a disaster, but they lost several games and wound up in a low-end bowl--the kind that’s played before Christmas. Let’s just say they’re playing a team that rarely makes it to a bowl. Who is likely to be in a better headspace for the game? And usually, the better-known team will be a big favorite, a bad position for a team that just might be phoning it in.

At the end of the day, we’re trying to outsmart the bookie.When betting college football, you want to cut against the grain like some of the running backs we are watching. If we dutifully march in the herd with the rest of the sheep, we are plunging headlong into a wood-chipper. And what does the book want us to do? They want us to take bad juice, accept bad odds, get disproportionately bad potential payback, and basically just accept what the book is giving you.

So flip the script. Be on top of things. If there is a period where -105 juice is being offered--take it. (Find -105 odds on college football at 5Dimes) If you’re on the wrong side of a hook on a key number like 3 or 7, consider buying a half-point. Stay away from exotic bets where the actual odds far outweigh whatever payback you stand you receive.

Start to define the fine line between sucker bets and getting optimal value from your wagers. Sometimes you will see a line that seems out of whack. But if it’s in the favor of the better-known and higher-ranked team, that could possibly a sucker bet. If you see that Notre Dame is getting a juicy point-spread, it’s like the bookie is tempting you to bet them. In those cases, the book could be setting you up for a sucker bet. There is good value, then there are lines that look too good to be true.

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  • College Football Conferences - List of all NCAA football conferences including the teams that make up each conference.
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