Football handicappers that are serious about their betting are often torn between wagering on college football and the NFL. And while football is football at any level for the most part, there are some key differences between, and betting on college and professional football games.
If bettors are going to play both segments during a single season, they will need to learn to adjust their betting strategies if they want to be in the green. So, to help, we’ve put together five big differences to keep in mind when betting on college football and the NFL.
For starters, the talent level in college football is not near as high as it is in the NFL. Even the best college player is not near as good as the worst NFL player, and the gap in talent levels can be far more pronounced within the college ranks. In NCAA football, the big BCS conference programs usually have the highest touted players, who are usually much bigger, stronger, talented and athletic. In the NFL, that top layer talent is spread around throughout the league, narrowing the gap between teams.
Second is coaching. Plain and simple, not all coaches are created equally. Just like players, some are much better than others. But in the college ranks, the disparity between coaches at the helm of higher level programs opposed to lower level programs is huge. Compared to the NFL, where you see the most talented and experienced coaches who are the best at what they do. Making the gap far narrower than it is in college.
Next are the differences in how college football and NFL teams approach playing the game in general. In college football there are a wide variety of schemes teams can use — pistol, wildcat, wing-t, and spread to name a few. And that’s just the offense, as teams try to be creative to overcome skill deficits. But in the NFL teams just play a basic variation of the same thing other teams are doing, and rarely ever use a scheme like a spread. Handicappers that want to be successful betting on college football need to spend a lot more time understanding schemes and what matchups they create, way more than they do in the NFL.
Consequently, all of those schemes in college football create a potential for some wild and unexpected, and particularly huge outcomes on the scoreboard. It’s not uncommon for a college football team to put up 60-70 points in a game. Maybe once or twice a season. Something you will rarely ever see in the NFL, as high score would be 40 points. Because college games are wide open, handicapping totals are different than they are in the pros.
Finally, handicappers need to be conscious that the lines are much tighter in the NFL than in a lot of college football games. That’s because betting volumes are enormous and a lot of attention is placed on the NFL. There are less NFL games in a week too, so the betting public has more time to scrutinize the lines, and change the lines. Meanwhile, college football doesn’t get near the action, especially when two lower level college teams play each other. The smaller the betting volume — the less effort sportsbooks are going to put into setting good numbers.
If a handicapper can sniff out those lesser college football games, they could find themselves sitting on a stockpile of money come Saturday night.