College Bowl Betting Advice
by Robert Ferringo - 12/09/2008
Unfortunately, I won't be getting a Golden Goose for Christmas.
And by "Golden Goose" I mean that this won't be the year that I again find the cure-all for holiday bowl betting. You know, that magical system that produces nothing but winners and wonder on every bowl game for which it's applicable; That system that goes a perfect 33-0 and correctly passes out winners on every single bowl game. Nope. Not this year. But maybe if I'm a good boy Santa will bring it to me next season.
However, there are still a lot of tricks to this trade and a lot of systems, tips and trends that I can share with you that have proven themselves profitable when it comes to college football bowl betting. Here are a few of my personal favorite bits of college bowl betting advice:
1) A hot recent trend is to play favorites before Christmas and back underdogs after. Over the past three years, favorites that played before Dec. 25 have posted records of 21-2 straight up and 14-9 against the spread (70.6 percent). Conversely, the chalk is 55-38 SU but just 40-51-1 ATS (37.9 percent) after a visit from Santa.
Interestingly, this trend didn't hold last year, as early chalk went just 2-4 ATS before Christmas and was a solid 15-10-1 ATS after. Also, the favorites were actually an easy play on the money line as well, winning 19 of 26 games.
This year's pre-Christmas favorites are Wake Forest, Fresno State, South Florida, Arizona, Troy, TCU and Hawaii.
2) Play against public teams. Everyone and their grandmother are going to back classic football programs like Notre Dame and Alabama in their respective bowl games. It's not a coincidence that those programs are a combined 2-9 ATS in their last 11 bowls.
"Sharps usually get pinned up against the public in betting," said a Bodog bookmaker. "If you know your players are going to be on the public team then you can shade the line because the sharps will usually take the dog in those cases. This will help you balance the action. As risk managers, knowing your player base is crucial, as it will give you the jump start on the players and put you in the best possible position to win."
3) The best two underdog conferences are the SEC and the Pac-10. The SEC is 10-3 SU and 12-1 ATS as a dog in recent years. The Pac-10 is 27-25 SU and 39-12 ATS (76.5 percent) in the underdog role since the start of the 1997 bowl season.
Last season these two conferences combined to go 3-4 SU and 4-3 ATS. Considering the heavy plus-money you get on money lines this method has been a very profitable system in and of itself. Early puppies from these two conferences include Oregon, Vanderbilt, LSU, South Carolina, and Mississippi and they all fit into this system.
4) Do your homework when it comes to conference power rankings. Just because a 9-2 school out of the Mountain West is facing a 6-5 crew out of the SEC doesn't mean that the MWC team is going to roll. To the contrary.
"I would be sure to research each conference participating," said a former Las Vegas sportsbook director. "This doesn't mean looking at the polls or watching (ESPN's College) Game Day. Researching all the out-of-conference games teams played during the course of the season will give you a true measurement of how strong that particular conference may be."
BYU against Arizona, East Carolina against Kentucky, and Utah against Alabama are all games that fit this mold.
5) Location, location, location. Over the past three seasons there have been 12 bowl games in which one school was playing on its home turf. Those teams have gone 9-4-1 ATS. Also, without any appreciable rhyme or reason, the designated "Home Team" over that same span has gone 66-48 ATS. That's a 57.9-percent clip. However, over the past four seasons, teams playing within their own state are just 19-18 ATS when facing an opponent from another state.
Teams playing on their home turf this year are Hawaii and USC. Teams playing in their home state are South Florida, North Carolina, Florida State, Florida, Central Michigan, Louisiana Tech, Houston, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, USC, Texas Tech.