The NCAA and NFL football seasons are set to begin in a few weeks, and millions of bettors across the United States will flood the sportsbooks with action while participating in American's favorite pastime-gambling on sports. At first glance, wagering on both sports might feel like the exact same thing (football is football, right?), but for bettors looking to make a profit, they are not. There are a quite a few betting differences between the collegiate and professional level, and approaching college games with a NFL mindset or vice versa can be the difference between winning and losing. Let's take a closer look at the difference between betting on college and NFL football and figure out how to make a profit at the end of the season.
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Spreads : What's the difference?
A spread is a spread, and it shouldn't make a difference which level you are talking about, correct? Wrong. Spreads vary wildly between the two sports, and many times a 20-point college line might be less intimidating than a 10-point NFL spread. The biggest difference between college and NFL football is the talent gap between teams, and according to the league's numbers, less than two percent of all collegiate players get drafted into the NFL.
At the college level, 20-, 25- and even 30-point spreads are common lines, whereas 14-point spreads are considered huge in the NFL, and anything in the 20-point range is reaching historically large spread. The Ohio States of the world will routinely cover 28-point spreads, so do not necessarily shy away from a large college line, because you could miss out on value.
Blowouts : What's the difference?
Another reason college games have such huge spreads is because blowouts are encouraged and almost required by the top teams. Things have changed a bit since college football stopped using the BCS computer system, but teams still go out on to the field with the mindset that wins must also be dominant and look impressive. In the NFL, coaches simply want to get the "W" and move on to the next week-there are no style points awarded. In college teams are ranked on a weekly basis, and many times the difference between two schools will be based on which had the most impressive win the week before.
Totals : What's the difference?
Scoring is generally higher in college because all of the factors we just spoke about. Teams are looking to score, the talent gaps between teams are huge, and the defensive schemes are simply not as good as the professional level. College totals routinely open in the 60-point range and head into the 70s and even 80s for certain games. In the NFL, totals open in the low 30s and jump into the mid-50s for expected high-scoring games. Sometimes a 70-point total might be a better wager than a 48-point line. The key is knowing the difference.
Handicapping: What's the difference?
The NFL has 32 teams and 16 games to bet (depending on byes) on a weekly basis. College has over a 100 teams and sometimes up to 30 or 40 lines to wager on, and when it comes to handicapping those, the differences are huge. The NFL schedule and spreads are released to the public months before the season even begins, and sharp bettors and the sportsbooks have time to pour over every piece of information to make the best spreads. In college, the number of teams is so overwhelming that the sport leaves more room for researching and finding "bad" lines.
NFL and college football are very different sports, and bettors would be wise to closely study the differences in order to make a profit on the season. Being an NFL bettor doesn't mean you are a college bettor, and vice versa. Knowing and taking advantage of the differences between each sport can be the main reason why you end up in the red or black at the end of the year. Remember to bet wisely and enjoy the games.
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Read more articles by George Monroy
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