Mid-Majors Where The Profits Lie for College Football Wagering
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 11/05/2008
With over 100 teams competing weekly in college football, games in the smaller conferences often get overlooked. Bettors generally shy away from teams they are unfamiliar with and games that may not be televised - and when there is not a high volume of handle on certain teams then the oddsmakers sometimes ignore these games as well. Injury reports, trends and weather reports for a battle of Conference USA cellar dwellers may not be as scrutinized by oddsmakers as a marquee Top 10 matchup between two BCS conference teams might be. Less public action on the games will also prevent large line movements from the opening line.
It's no surprise some of the top mid-major teams like No. 17 Ball State (6-1 ATS) and No. 12 TCU (7-2 ATS) have fared well against the number but other lesser known schools have continued to fare well, too. UL Lafayette in the Sun Belt has the second best ATS record in college football behind only Oklahoma State (8-0 ATS). The Ragin' Cajuns have compiled a 7-1 record ATS despite only posting a 5-3 straight up record.
Air Force, Florida International and Tulsa, all at 6-2 ATS, along with Temple (6-2-1 ATS), Boise State (5-2 ATS), Northern Illinois (5-2 ATS) and Rice (6-3 ATS) have all made its backers a considerable profit this season. In terms of ATS busts, bettors are more likely to stumble across them in the BCS conferences. Out of the eight worst teams against the number this season only Wyoming and Fresno State, both 1-7 ATS, are from mid-major conferences.
Teams like Clemson, Indiana, Michigan, Auburn, Washington and Washington State have not only had disappointing seasons but the six major programs have a combined 5-42-1 ATS.
Looking at overall ATS records by conference is pretty irrelevant at this point in the season because of the lack of out-of-conference games remaining on the schedule. However, examining how a conference performs overall against the total can give insight into the league. Many things influence totals with mid-major conferences. Just like any other league, the smaller conferences have a designated group of officials and in the mid-majors referees tend to have a distinct way of calling games. The field conditions in the smaller stadiums along with the cold weather in the northern venues in the MAC and Conference USA and the elements at the higher elevation venues in the WAC and Mountain West also play a role.
Out of the six mid-major classifications--the WAC, Sun Belt, Mountain West, MAC, Conference USA and the Independents--only the Mountain West and Conference USA have gone over more than under. But those two conferences have gone over at an impressive clip. Teams in the Mountain West have combined to go 42-34 over the total while Conference USA has scored even more points, with a 55-37-2 record over the total.
Individually no college football team has gone over more times than Idaho and Utah who are both 7-1 over the total. Rice and UNLV have gone over the total seven times this season and Akron, UTEP, UL Lafayette and Western Michigan have gone over six times. Surprisingly, two of the teams at the bottom of the ATS records, Michigan and Washington State, are at the top when it comes to going over the total. Michigan has gone over seven out of nine times and Washington State has done so six out of eight times.
Two mid-major conferences, Conference USA and the MAC, split their teams into two divisions. Out of the 12 teams in Conference USA only Tulsa (6-2 ATS), Rice (6-3 ATS) and Tulane (5-3 ATS) have been money making options. All play in the West Division. Not a single team in the Conference USA East was even at .500 ATS.
In the West Division of the MAC Conference, only Eastern Michigan (2-7 ATS) was losing money for its backers while the East was split pretty evenly.