Comparing NFL and NCAA Football Betting
by George Monroy - 8/5/2013
With the return of football season in a few short weeks, bettors will have their plates full between wagering on the NFL and NCAA. With games on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Thursday (that is a lot of football) bettors will have their handicapping stretched to the limit. While football on the collegiate level may look and feel awfully similar to football on the professional level, it is not—particularly for gamblers. The NFL and NCAA game can be two very different animals in the betting world, and successful gamblers must to be aware of the differences when handicapping a game.
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Treating an NFL football game like it is a college game or a college game like it is the NFL is a surefire way to lose money at the end of the year. At the very basic level there are a few key betting differences between the sports, and something as simple as a spread or a total might mean very different things at each level. Yes, football is football. But for gamblers there are certain benchmarks for betting that are completely different in each sport. A 14-point spread with a total of 55 are two very different lines depending on which level of the game you are referring too. Let’s take a quick look at the differences between betting the NFL and College football.
There are certain benchmarks when it comes to gambling on any sport. And if you have done so for a while, then you start to recognize them. In the NFL spreads are rarely set at anything higher than 14 points. If you have a huge favorite that is expected to blow out another team, the point spread will usually open around 14 points. There are times when a spread can creep into the 15- to 16-point range, but even that is rare. In college football, a blowout spread is usually in the high 20s to 30-point range. And even then, college spreads cans get into the 50-point range.
Understanding the differences in spreads is a key part of being successful in each sport.
A bettor should be worried about giving away 15 points in the NFL, but not so much in college. The Green Bay Packers as a 15-point favorite is a huge spread. However, the Alabama Crimson Tide as a 15-point favorite is not. The top schools in college football will routinely cover 20- to 30-point lines.
NFL and College totals have the same differences as spreads do. NFL totals usually reside in the 30- to 50-point range. A matchup that is expected to be low scoring will open up in the 30- to 33-point range and rarely move into the 20s. A high-scoring NFL matchup will open from 48-to 55-points and rarely move past that number. In college games will routinely see totals numbers set in the high 60s and 70s. Taking an over on 55 points in the NFL is huge, while taking the same number in college isn’t.
Margin of victory
Margin of victory is another huge difference between college and NFL football. The reason that spreads are so large in the collegiate level is not only because of the huge gap in talent but because teams are reward for huge victories. In the NFL a win is a win no matter how you get it. In college a team could drop in the rankings by barely winning a game. The BCS computer ranking systems encourages teams to be higher scoring and win by as large of a margin as possible.
There are many other differences between football on the professional and the collegiate level. However, bettors should always be aware of spreads and what they mean in each sport. Football is the same no matter what level it is played at. However, for the serious gambler, he must be keenly understand the small difference and apply them to his handicapping process. Remember to bet wisely, and may the spread be with you.
Read more articles by George Monroy
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