College football is defined largely by its traditions, and these traditions often lead to repeat performances. One of the best ways to observe this from a betting perspective is to analyze head-to-head series trends between teams. So let’s rip through 50 top head-to-head trends you’ll want to consider when building your weekly college football wagering lists.
Point Spread Weekly subscribers will get all the top head-to-head trends every week, starting with four games Saturday. That said, the trends herein are special, either by their record or the impact they might have on the season. I’ve grouped the trends into several categories and have shown the game dates when each will apply.
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Lay the wood
• Favorites are on a 7-0 ATS run in the North Texas-SMU head-to-head series (Sept. 11).
• The chalk is on an 11-2 ATS surge in the Georgia-Auburn rivalry (Oct. 9).
• In the MAC series between Central Michigan and Toledo, favorites have gone 11-1 ATS in the last 12 (Oct. 16).
• Laying the points in the East Carolina-Memphis series has been quite profitable lately, with nine straight favorites covering (Nov. 13).
• With ATS wins in 15 of the last 16 series meetings, laying the points in the Tulsa-Tulane series has been nearly automatic (Nov. 13).
Analysis: Any trend going 15 of 16 is significant, and most bettors will probably gloss over the Week 11 game between Tulsa and Tulane simply because of the number of huge tilts on the schedule that week. That could be a wasted opportunity, as the better team tends to win when these teams get together. Last year Tulsa won 30-24, ending the Green Wave’s three-game winning streak. The teams are deemed fairly even going into the season, and the favored team might be decided by home-field advantage, in this case Tulane.
• Favorites are riding an 8-0-1 ATS record into the 2021 series meeting between Syracuse and Louisville (Nov. 13).
Back the barking dog
• The underdog in the Virginia-Miami series is on a 14-3 ATS surge (Sept. 30 30).
• Underdogs have won seven straight ATS in the Louisville-Wake Forest ACC series (Oct. 2).
• Underdogs have gone 8-0-1 ATS in the last nine meetings in the South Carolina-Tennessee rivalry (Oct. 9).
Analysis: With both programs in rebuilding mode with new coaching staffs for 2021, this Week 6 matchup in Knoxville should be interesting, and both teams will be hungry for what could be a rare SEC victory for them this fall. The Gamecocks will likely be backed by this big underdog trend, playing on the road, and they will be looking to avenge back-to-back losses to the Volunteers.
• In the Michigan State-Purdue Big Ten series, underdogs are on a 9-1-1 ATS run (Oct. 6).
• Fourteen of the last 16 Tulsa-SMU matchups have been won ATS by underdogs (Nov. 27).
The comforts of home
• Home teams are on a 10-1 ATS surge in the Houston-Rice intrastate clash (Sept. 11).
• Home field has meant a ton in the Memphis-UCF series, with hosts going 13-1 ATS in the last 14 (Oct. 22).
Analysis: With Cincinnati the projected front-runner in the American Athletic Conference, this October matchup between Memphis and UCF could very likely wind up determining who is No. 2. These rivals have put on an incredibly offensive series over the last four years, with the games producing 93.5 ppg, including last year’s thrilling 50-49 Memphis win. The Knights, now under Gus Malzahn, get their chance at payback in Orlando, and home field historically has been the determining factor in the series.
• The host team in the Kentucky-Mississippi State rivalry has converted seven in a row against the spread (Oct. 30).
• Home field has been quite advantageous in the Washington State-Arizona State series, as hosts are on a 13-3 ATS surge (Oct. 30).
• In the intrastate ACC series between NC State and Wake Forest, hosts have gone 12-2 ATS in the last 14 (Nov. 13).
• Hosts are on an eight-game ATS winning streak in the UCF-SMU series (Nov. 13).
• Visiting teams have gone 12-2 ATS in the last 14 meetings of the Virginia Tech-Georgia Tech series (Oct. 30).
• In the directional series between Central Michigan and Western Michigan, road teams are 8-0-1 ATS since 2012 (Nov. 3).
• The visitor in the Central Michigan-Ball State MAC series has gone 12-2 ATS in the last 14 (Nov. 17).
• A formerly home-dominated series has shifted dramatically in recent years, with road teams having won seven straight ATS in the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe between Wisconsin and Minnesota (Nov. 27).
Analysis: The Big Ten West title could very well come down to the last week of the season once again, and it could hinge on the result of the Wisconsin-Minnesota contest slated for Minneapolis. If so, based on recent series history, it figures to be advantage, Badgers. Road teams have converted seven straight against the spread in this rivalry, and Wisconsin has brought home the Paul Bunyan Axe each of the last eight times it has traveled to Minnesota.
• The Louisiana rivalry between Monroe and Lafayette has featured an incredible 17-1 ATS road trend (Nov. 27).
• Road teams have been the best wager in the MAC series between Ball State and Central Michigan recently, going 11-2 ATS in the last 13 (Dec. 5).
• Baylor has won nine straight ATS vs. Kansas (Sept. 18).
• Pittsburgh is on an 11-2 ATS run vs. Virginia Tech (Oct. 16).
• Central Michigan has won seven straight ATS over Northern Illinois (Oct. 23).
• Arkansas State has converted 11 straight point-spread wins vs. Louisiana-Monroe (Nov. 13).
• Arizona State carries a 13-game ATS head-to-head winning streak into its 2021 matchup with Washington (Nov. 13).
• Rice has thrived recently against UTEP, going 14-3 ATS since 2003 (Nov. 20).
• LSU is on a 10-game ATS winning streak vs. Texas A&M (Nov. 27).
Analysis: While I’m unwilling to predict it yet, the Thanksgiving weekend tilt between LSU and Texas A&M could have huge SEC West title implications. The Tigers would certainly hope so, as they’ve converted 10 straight point-spread covers against the Aggies, obviously providing them with a big mental edge. Regardless of whether an SEC crown is on the line, with LSU owning a 5-1 record in the last six meetings and all five wins by double-digit margins, the Tigers would be in a great position to improve their bowl game outlook.
• Bowling Green has owned Akron in recent years, going 11-1 ATS in the last 12 meetings (Dec. 5).
• Arkansas State will go into its 2021 matchup against Louisian-Monroe on a 10-game ATS winning streak (Dec. 5).
Loving the rival locale
• Wisconsin has won ATS at Purdue eight straight times (Oct. 23).
• Georgia has loved its trips to Georgia Tech, winning 11 straight games ATS in Atlanta (Nov. 27).
Analysis: Georgia is among the expected front-runners in the SEC East — and nationally, for that matter. The Bulldogs will wrap up their regular season with a trip to Atlanta to face so-called rival Georgia Tech. I say so-called because when a series is this one-sided, should it really be considered a rivalry? Coach Kirby Smart’s team will be looking for its 12th straight road ATS win in the series, and considering how much better the Bulldogs are expected to be than Tech, it’s a good bet they’ll get it.
At least one team gets up for the rivalry
• Michigan State is on an 11-2 ATS run vs. Michigan (Oct. 30).
• NC State is on an extended run of 16-3-1 ATS vs. ACC foe Florida State (Nov. 6).
• Oregon has owned the ATS ledger vs. Washington, going 13-2-1 in the last 16 meetings (Nov. 6).
Analysis: The Pac-12 North could well come down to the early November meeting between Oregon and Washington in Seattle. The Ducks hold the edge, as they have won five of their last six games on the road against the Huskies and are on a 13-2-1 ATS run in the head-to-head series. The last two games were tight, decided by four and three points, and this one would be expected to be close as well. Could Oregon’s psychological edge from years of series domination be the difference?
• While Oregon has thrived against Washington, it has floundered vs. Washington State, with the Cougars owning a 10-1 ATS lead in the last 11 meetings (Nov. 13).
• Washington has owned the Apple Cup rivalry over the last two decades, going 15-5 ATS vs. Washington State (Nov. 26).
No total too low
• The Cal-Washington series has gone Under the total in 10 of the last 11 meetings (Sept. 25).
• Against any logical thinking, the Hawaii-Nevada series has produced eight straight Unders (Oct. 16).
• The following series have gone Under the total seven straight times: Fresno State-San Diego State (Oct. 30), Army-Air Force (Nov. 6) and Rutgers-Penn State (Nov. 20).
• Texas and Baylor have failed to reach the posted total in eight straight matchups, going Under each time since 2013 (Oct. 30).
• Referred to as the Bear Bowl, Unders have been prevalent in the Cal-UCLA rivalry, with eight straight totals going that way (Nov. 27).
• Navy and Army have played to an incredible 15 straight Unders (Dec. 11).
Analysis: By now it should be clear that taking anything but an Under wager when Navy and Army get together is just plain gambling. Taking the Under, however, is wise investing. It has been all Unders since 2005 in this rivalry, as both teams run clock-draining offenses and both are well-prepared and careful with the football. How could the games ever be high-scoring? Last year’s game produced just 15 points. Could this year’s total be in the low 30s?
Shootout at the ol’ corral
• Over the total is 11-2-1 in the last 14 Boise State-Utah State clashes (Sept. 25).
• Rutgers and Michigan have gone Over the total in seven straight meetings (Sept. 25).
• Michigan has also gone Over the total in seven straight games against Ohio State (Nov. 27).
Analysis: Perhaps the biggest rivalry in college football, shootouts have been the name of the game in the Ohio State-Michigan series in recent years. Thank the Buckeyes for the Overs, essentially, as they’ve blistered the Wolverines’ defense for 43.6 ppg over the last seven years. Michigan (25.0 ppg in that span) hasn’t been bad offensively either. The games have been so explosive that the seven-game Over run has featured the average point production surpassing the average posted total by 20.6 ppg. That’s a lot of cushion for those wagering Overs.