Three Differences between Betting on the NFL and College Football
by George Monroy - 8/21/2014
Even though football is essentially the same at every level from professional to high school, for bettors there are enough key differences between wagering on the NFL and college football that the sports might as well be two different games. Taking an NFL betting strategy into the NCAA game or taking and NCAA strategy into an NFL game can be a receipt for disaster and a quick way to lose a lot of money.
A 10-point spread and 55-point total could mean two very different things at each level, and taking the favorite and the "over" might be the right play for one sport and the wrong play for the other simply based on the lines. Before football season kicks into full gear, let's take a closer look at three differences between the NFL and college football.
Large Point Spreads
The biggest difference between betting on NFL and college football is the point spreads. In college football, lines are typically much larger than they are in the pros. The difference is attributed to the simple fact that in the NFL every player on every team is a professional athlete, where as at the college level teams are filled with a mix of players that will end up in the NFL (for most big schools) and others than will end up with normal jobs.
Heading into Week 1 of the 2014 NFL season, there is only one double-digit spread (10 points) and it involves one of the best and worst teams in the league (Philadelphia and Jacksonville). In college, however, there are five 30-point or more spreads in Week 1 alone, and none of them involve a Top 5-ranked team.
Large totals is another difference between the two sports that is a byproduct of the huge talent gap amongst teams. Again, in the NFL the largest Week 1 total on the board is a 51.5-point "over/under" between New Orleans and Atlanta, where as in college there is not a single game with a total less than 46 points, and the largest line is a monster 75.5 total between Baylor and SMU.
As a bettor, you need to approach both sports with very different mindsets. In the NFL, a 50-point total may automatically have a gambler looking to take the "under", but in college that line could feel like an easy "over" with a school that is not even known as an offensive powerhouse.
Handicapping can be a bit tougher in the NFL based on the fact that there will be only 14 or 15 games per week. Outside of injury, those lines are usually spot-on and leave little room for error. However, at the college level the sheer number of games is so overwhelming that is almost impossible for bettors and the sportsbooks to keep track of everything that is going on.
In the NFL, if a bad team goes on an ATS tear and covers four or five spreads, everyone from the most casual of bettors to the sharps will know about it by the second week. In college, a small school can build up an ATS streak and go unnoticed by nearly everyone. At the college level a little extra research can unearth a goldmine.
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Read more articles by George Monroy
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