How to Take Advantage of NCAAF Conference-Only Games Schedule

How to Take Advantage of NCAAF Conference-Only Games Schedule
The Oregon Ducks mascot The Duck. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

NCAAF schedules are in flux. Here’s how bettors can take advantage.

Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures

On the one hand, the situation with COVID-19 presents what many perceive to be a unique safety threat. On the other hand, a canceled season could cause incredible damage to the universities, programs, and individuals who depend on the revenue generated by college football. So what we are now seeing is an attempt to salvage what can possibly be salvaged, to play as many games as possible while doing the utmost to encourage everyone’s safety.

Last Thursday, the Big Ten announced that, in 2020, its members would only play other conference opponents. This means that Big Ten teams will play fewer games, but presumably also minimize travel and add additional bye weeks in case games need to be rescheduled. I assume that the other major conferences will follow suit.

Where This Leaves Bettors

Of course, fewer games played means fewer games to bet on. But this situation, sad as it is, actually inspires unique betting opportunities. It really helps to register at multiple top sportsbooks because you have more opportunities to profit.  In this case, fewer college football options are available to bet on. But others remain. Today, I will focus on Bookmaker where you can still place college football future bets.

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Who Benefits: Oregon and USC

In a normal schedule, some teams would have been unrealistic future pick options because the difficulty of their schedule seemed to undermine their chances of reaching the playoffs. But with revised schedules, some teams present superb value as future picks because their schedules now appear much easier. 

While heavyweight-caliber Big Ten and SEC teams reduce each other’s playoff chances, lighter conferences present a much less exhausting gauntlet. Though often on the receiving end of scorn from college football fans who routinely find proof of the superiority of the other major conference, the Pac-12 is most appealing in this present situation. Oregon no longer has to face Ohio State. USC also benefits from avoiding both Alabama and Notre Dame.

Betting On The Pac-12

One still may be skeptical: sure, Oregon or USC — two of the Pac-12’s most highly-regarded teams entering the season — may make the playoffs. But so what? Neither will win the championship. So why bet on either one?

I have two responses: one, the NCAAF odds on either team winning it all are so sweet, that hedging opportunities will easily appear rewarding come playoff time. Two, given the unique safety-related circumstances and because this season will not be a normal season, some players may opt-out. 

I think that the players who would most likely opt out of this season are the ones who have the least to play for. Why endure a more dangerous and less rewarding, asterisk-laden season for dubitable benefits? The players who have less to play for are those who are already clearly going to be making a ton of money in the NFL after being drafted very highly.

I am talking about guys like Trevor Lawrence of Clemson and Dylan Moses of Alabama. I am talking about players at big programs who, in opting out, would drastically reduce the title-winning chances of their university. In the Pac-12, less of those big-name players exist, which is the second reason why the Pac-12 is so attractive for future picks.

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My Favorite Bet

In considering the Pac-12, I rule out Cal and Washington for its respective offensive shortcomings. Utah loses too many big pieces — both Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss, for example. For me, the Pac-12 comes down to Oregon and USC. One reason why I prefer Oregon is depth. Depth will matter more this season as, inevitably, some players contract the coronavirus and have to isolate themselves and/or recover from symptoms.

USC’s offensive line is lacking quality pieces in its reserve, which is nearly exhausted by three walk-ons, eight low-ranked freshmen, and a redshirt freshman with zero on-field experience. There are merely a few four-stars who weren’t able to find playing time in what may be regarded as an underperforming offensive line.

On defense, USC was quite poor. It ranked, for example, 76th nationally in yards allowed per game. It likely won’t improve with a new coordinator who likes to employ three defensive linemen (USC employed four last year) and who generally won’t find USC’s current front seven to reflect his own recruiting vision.

Fortunately for Oregon, its position most threatened by turnover is the offensive line, which is a constant priority for Mario Cristobal. Cristobal is well-prepared to restock at offensive line. New quarterback Tyler Shough already has experience in the field. He’ll be supported by CJ Verdell, who eclipsed 1,200 yards and six YPC last season. Oregon’s receiving crew returns eight guys who caught double-digit receptions last season. This is an evidently capable group of wide receivers and pass-catching tight ends.

On defense, again, just about every important player returns plus significant young talent. This is a defense that, with a new defensive coordinator in Andy Avalos, ranked 24th nationally in opposing yards per game last year, ninth in scoring defense, and will improve. Defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux accrued nine sacks despite not beginning the season as a starter.

The nation’s top two recruits at linebacker will man the inside positions. Oregon’s secondary is stacked with staple cornerbacks Thomas Graham and Deommodore Lenoir. Graham was All-Conference third-teamer in 2019 as was fellow returning defensive back Jevon Holland.

The Verdict 

2020’s upcoming college football season will clearly be unique and so it merits a unique approach. Given the new schedules and the prospect of opting-out, the Pac-12 features a rare bevy of more attractive NCAAF future betting options. My favorite, for its superior depth and the quality that permeates both its offense and its defense, is Oregon.

Best NCAAF Bet: Oregon To Win National Championship (+5000) with Bookmaker