Heading into Week 1 of the season, we're looking at what to consider when betting college football totals, and the common mistakes that some bettors make.
There's really no mystery in how sports books make money hand over fist, year after year. In US dollars alone, all one really needs to do is look at how 99% of the voters actually believe the lies that the democrats and republicans -- and their media mouthpieces -- are telling them, or that there's such a thing as the "lesser of two evils."
The same naiveté or ingrained biases are present in about the same percent of bettors, and they're even known by the same name as those voters: The public. Whether they are laying down on money line, spreads or totals, it's their hearts or something a talking head on their wagers.
Are College Football Totals Really Easy Bets?
While totals are a very simple bet to make, regardless of the sport, they are by no means an easy wager to win. Still, many believe they can be more lucrative early in a given season than later when books begin to tighten up as we all learn more about a team or teams.
Here again, however, the public tends to lean towards scoring and less on defense. Ask your average American why he or she doesn't like soccer, and chances are they will mention something about their not being enough scoring. Since they're thinking offense, most bettors tend to look for more scoring than what is actually taking place during a season.
Totals are indeed set higher on college football lines than the NFL; the average total for Week 1 of the NFL season is 45.6 currently while a quick glance at the 26 games Saturday games on SBR's live NCAA football odds is 56.6. The dimensions of those fields, the length of the games, number of players on both sides, all of that is the same at both the pro and collegiate level. What's driving the higher totals is not the offenses being that much stronger, but the defenses being that much weaker and susceptible to the ball being pushed across the goal line.
The best scoring defense last season belonged to Wisconsin as the Badgers allowed under 14 PPG. Eight of their 13 games stayed 'under' totals which ranged from 41½-59. Ohio State was second in the country (15.1 ppg), and nine of their contests never made it to the numbers. Those two teams ranked second and ninth, respectively in total yards allowed, so the first focus for a bettor looking at college football totals should be the defenses, not the offenses.
Time Of Possession A Key In College Totals
The first offensive column I look at is the time of possession. In an era of quick-strike, spread-option schemes, maintaining control of the football for long periods of time still, means something. Baylor is certainly a fine example of the quick-strike offenses, ranking near the bottom of the nation in 2015 with 27:51 in the TOP column yet still leading the country in scoring (48.1).
Alabama and Michigan are two examples of grind 'em out, keep the other teams off the field systems. Each ranked in the top 10 for the time of possession, and each started last year with strong 'under' tendencies. The Crimson Tide finished 4-9 O/U while the Wolverines ended 8-5 thanks to sports books beginning to adjust their game totals from the mid-upper 40s to the upper-30s, low-40s during the second half of the campaign.
One Eye On Mother Nature, Another Eye On Depth Chart
Anyone who has been following me here at SBR all these years knows I am always factoring in weather forecasts with handicapping. Doug Upstone recently wrote a great piece on this subject and is definitely worth the read. September games are often played in the 90s which will affect the game's outcome more than later when the temps are in the 30s and 40s.
Wind and rain also play big roles in contests, as do altitude and several indoor stadiums. Meteorology and geography aspects also have to be factored in with the type of turf, natural or artificial?
Last, but certainly not least, injuries to key players have to be considered. Learn the depth charts early, especially along the offensive and defensive lines. Then just keep your browser tuned to the free college football picks at SBR to keep up as the season goes on.