Eight college football opening week betting concepts

August 22, 2023 05:08 PM

Eight college football opening weekend betting concepts

Over the last six years at VSiN, I’ve made a habit of studying data for readers and unveiling foundational betting systems that our readers could employ in their handicapping routines. I tend to look for specific line ranges, types of games, and the point in the season in which games were played as the foundation for forming these strategies.

For instance, the opening weeks of the college football season present interesting matchups each and every season, and the prices set up by oddsmakers can give bettors valuable insight as to how the “experts” are evaluating the games. I first dug into this material at this time a couple of years ago and had some good success in playing the findings. I’m here now to update the analysis.

It’s typically believed that the bookmakers are the ones “in the know,” and that they set their lines up for specific reasons. In turn, those lines are bet heavily by the professionals, who put an equal amount of work into prepping for the season. You would have to figure that between following the lead of these two groups of people, that all bettors should be able to take advantage. I feel that studying the results of games against the lines does that.

With that in mind, I set out to find whether or not there were any relatively simple systems, or concepts that bettors can take advantage of in the opening week(s) of the college football season. I consider these opening week(s) as Week 0 and Week 1, in other words, the next two weekends on the slate. These systems are in addition to the College Football Stability System plays that I will be releasing for this week and the additional first three full weeks.

After studying the Week 0/1 games for the last 10 seasons, I was able to come up with eight different betting concepts that you might want to add as consideration as you break down the games over the next two weeks. I believe that all of them have some solid foundation to them, and I will explain that in each as I reveal the systems and the games in play for 2023. Note that most of the qualifying plays are next week, but there are some slated for this Saturday.


CFB Week 0/1 Betting Concept #1: HUGE FAVORITES (-37.5 points or more) have been automatic in the opening week(s) of college football since 2013, going 11-0 SU and ATS!

Steve’s thoughts: When the opening week lines approach the 40-point favorite level, it’s clear that oddsmakers perceive a massive difference between the two teams in talent. In addition, the better team was always playing at home in these games as well, and that comes with an additional level of motivation as these hosts are anxious to get their promising seasons off to a good start against an opponent that is essentially powerless to stop them. The result has been easy wins and point spread covers, with these games producing an average score of 58.3-8.4 on games with average lines of -39.5. In 2022, two games applied to this system, with Alabama (-42) beating Utah State 55-0, and Texas (-37.5) beating LA Monroe 52-10. Going even further, last year, all nine teams that were favored by 24.5-point or more won and covered their games.

Teams qualifying for 2023: There are four games with massive lines for this year in Weeks 0/1. Not bad, considering there have only been 11 in the last ten years combined. These are the huge favorites that are expected to roll in their openers:

ALABAMA vs. Middle Tennessee State

AUBURN vs. Massachusetts

TEXAS A&M vs. New Mexico

USC vs. Nevada


CFB Week 0/1 Betting Concept #2: Home-field advantage means a lot in early season games between unfamiliar Power Five nonconference foes. The hosts in these matchups have gone 24-12 SU and 21-12-3 ATS over the last decade.

Steve’s thoughts: As I indicated in #1 above, there is a lot of motivation that comes from playing at home in the opening week(s) of the college football season. Particularly when the opening week(s) foe is another big-name school. The only line range in which these host teams haven’t covered their point spreads over the last 10 years has been in the -7 to -18.5 range, as those hosts are just 4-8-3 ATS. Otherwise, the home teams in these early season showdowns have been nearly automatic.

Teams qualifying for 2023: There are four nonconference showdowns between Power Five foes at campus sites this season. The only one of these hosts that is in the -7 to -18.5 range is Utah, so tread lightly in that game with Florida. Otherwise, the other three hosts will test what has become a 17-4 ATS trend.

Virginia at TENNESSEE (-28)

West Virginia at PENN ST (-20.5)

Colorado at TCU (-20.5)

Florida at UTAH (-8)


CFB Week 0/1 Betting Concept #3: Small favorites win the early neutral-field showdowns between nonconference Power Five foes, as those laying less than a touchdown are on a 13-3 SU and 12-4 ATS (75%) run since 2013.

Steve’s thoughts: Odds makers have put in the work. They know how these teams stack up against one another. Particularly with the well-covered Power Five teams. In these expectedly tight neutral field games, trust them.

Teams qualifying for 2023: There are just two Week 0/1 nonconference Power Five tilts to consider, and both are expected to be highly competitive contests. One is a rivalry clash between the Carolinas, the other a rematch from a year ago between college football playoff hopefuls.

Power Five non-conference NEUTRAL games

NORTH CAROLINA (-2.5) vs. South Carolina

LSU (-2.5) vs. Florida State


CFB Week 0/1 Betting Concept #4: There is a massive swing in expectation to win and/or cover when Group of Five teams square off with Power Five teams in Weeks 0/1 over the last decade. As hosts, the Group of Five teams have gone 27-15 ATS (64.3%). On the road or in neutral games, these Group of Five teams are 70-101 ATS (40.9%) in that same time span. Bet accordingly.

Steve’s thoughts: I must repeat, there is a lot of motivation that comes from playing at home in the opening week(s) of the college football season. Even when teams are supposedly overmatched in talent, the home field gives them the juice to compete. When on the road, these same overmatched teams have trouble staying in games. There are a lot of Group of Five-Power Five matchups every year, be sure to follow this trend while it continues.

Teams qualifying for 2023: By my count, there are 30 games scheduled in Weeks 0/1 that pit Group of Five conference teams versus Power Five foes, and on typical pace, only six of the Group of Five teams are at home. The rest are in true road games. The latter are a typically difficult way to start a season.

Group of Five HOME TEAMS vs. Power Five foes

Stanford at HAWAII

California at NORTH TEXAS

Washington St at COLORADO ST

Oregon St at SAN JOSE ST

Texas Tech at WYOMING


Group of Five ROAD TEAMS vs. Power Five foes





RICE at Texas



ARKANSAS ST at Oklahoma


BALL ST at Kentucky

TEXAS ST at Baylor

BUFFALO at Wisconsin

UTAH ST at Iowa


HAWAII at Vanderbilt

MIAMI OH at Miami Fl


C MICHIGAN at Michigan St

BOISE ST at Washington

OLD DOMINION at Virginia Tech

TOLEDO at Illinois

N ILLINOIS at Boston College

FRESNO ST at Purdue



CFB Week 0/1 Betting Concept #5: FAVORITES have been far more reliable at HOME and in NEUTRAL games in the opening week(s) of college football since 2013 (164-134 ATS 55%), than on the ROAD (38-54 ATS 41.3%).

Steve’s thoughts: Again, as I indicated in #1 above, there is a lot of motivation that comes from playing at home in the opening week(s) of the college football season. Teams are excited, fans are excited, and you can generally feel the extra “juice” in the home stadiums. As you can see from the ATS results over the last ten seasons, opening-week home teams are generally the better bet, as they own the ATS ledger as both favorites and underdogs. If you’re a bettor that prefers to back “the better team,” recognize that there has been a 13.7% difference between the success rates of home and road favorites beating their points spreads in week 0/1 games of late.

Teams qualifying for 2023: By my count, there are 10 games lined up for the first two weekends featuring TRUE ROAD favorites playing in what could be more difficult environments than perceived. Several of these teams could see their season prospects flushed with a key early loss. Consider that with home underdog covers comes the possibility of outright upsets as well. Highlight these road favorite games when starting your handicapping routine and consider the fact thought that these “better teams” will be facing motivated home dogs.

OHIO ST at Indiana

OREGON ST at San Jose St

NC STATE at Connecticut

WASHINGTON ST at Colorado St

TEXAS TECH at Wyoming


STANFORD at Hawaii

LOUISVILLE at Georgia Tech

ARMY at LA Monroe

CALIFORNIA at North Texas


CFB Week 0/1 Betting Concept #6: Oddsmakers are leading you to water on low-totaled games in weeks 0/1, especially with bigger favorites, as in games with totals of 48 or less and a favorite of four points or more, Under the total is 25-9 (73.5%) since 2013.

Steve’s thoughts: Remember, it is the oddsmakers that study these teams extensively throughout the offseason. When they find that teams aren’t going to be very explosive offensively, they basically tell you so by setting their opening totals low. As proof, the underdogs of +4 or more in these 28 games have scored just 14.7 PPG. When only one of the teams is capable of scoring, you don’t get too many Overs. Considering that the average college total has been in the 56-57 range for the last 10 years, a total of 48 may seem appetizing for an Over play, but it’s proven to be a profitable strategy to avoid that temptation. See low; expect low.

GAMES with totals of 48 or less and one team favored by four points or more qualifying for 2023: There are seven games officially qualifying as Under plays as of press time and three of them involved Big Ten teams, but the Miami (FL)-Miami (OH) and LA Monroe-Army matchups both showed numbers of 48.5 and could eventually wind up qualifying.


Massachusetts-New Mexico St

Utah St-Iowa


NC State-Connecticut


Ball St-Kentucky


CFB Week 0/1 Betting Concept #7: Nonconference games between Group of Five opponents involving home underdogs in Weeks 0/1 have been explosive, particularly when not expected to be. In fact, since ’13, when totals on these games involving home dogs (or pick ‘ems) are 64 or less, the result has been 22 Overs, 6 Unders (78.6%).

Steve’s thoughts: There is a reason teams are home underdogs in Weeks 0/1, particularly when the opponents are from relatively even-matched conference levels. They are expected to be overmatched. While these home dogs do score relatively well (27.5 PPG), they tend to give up a lot of points as well (36.2), and with a record of 9-19 outright in these contests, they are often playing catchup in the second half. This naturally leads to Overs. On totals averaging 55.4 PPG, these 63.7 PPG scored are a nice cushion for Over bettors.

Group of Five games with totals of 64 or less and the host playing as a pick ‘em or underdog qualifying for 2023: There are two games officially qualifying as Over plays as of press time.

UTEP-Jacksonville St

Army-LA Monroe


CFB Week 0/1 Betting Concept #8: Nonconference games between Group of Five opponents featuring a home favorite have been unexpectedly lower scoring, producing 30 Unders and 16 Overs (65.2%) since 2013.

Steve’s thoughts: In concept #4 above, I noted that the home underdogs in these Group of Five nonconference games were able to produce enough points consistently to benefit Over bettors. It has been the opposite when the underdogs are on the road, as in that same 10-year time span, these early-season dogs have produced just 21.2 PPG. This has resulted in a majority of these games going Under their respective totals.

Group of Five games with the host playing as a favorite qualifying for 2023: There are seven games officially qualifying as Under plays as of press time.

Louisiana Tech-SMU

South Florida-W Kentucky

Bowling Green-Liberty


Massachusetts-New Mexico St

S Alabama-Tulane

Ohio U-San Diego St

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