I know. It seems hard to fathom, but we have reached the final regular season week of the 2023 college football season. It seems like just yesterday that we were previewing the Week 0 games. Of course, a lot has happened since then, and there is still a ton left to decide this coming weekend in terms of conference championship berths, the playoff standings, and who will or won’t be going to bowl games.
Like always at this time of year, some teams have everything to play for, and some are just playing out the string. This greatly impacts the motivation levels of every team and, hence, the betting lines associated with the games. As such, this week presents a lot of opportunity for bettors. I’m here to share some of the top betting systems involving teams playing in their regular season finale games.
CFB Regular Season Finale System #1
Since 2015, home favorites of more than 20 points are 53-6 SU but just 23-36 ATS (39%) in season finale games.
System matches: (FADE ALL ATS) – TENNESSEE (-27 vs. Vanderbilt), UTAH (-22 vs. Colorado).
Steve’s thoughts: Laying big numbers in regular season finales can be difficult, regardless of the perceived difference in strength levels between the teams, as many of the regular season finale games are rivalry contests with enhanced motivation for the underdogs. The favored teams are typically just concentrating on getting wins, as you can see by the outright record.
CFB Regular Season Finale System #2
Since 2015, home underdogs of seven points or more are just 21-106 SU and 52-74-1 ATS (41.3%) in season finale games.
System matches: (FADE ALL ATS) – MISSISSIPPI STATE (+11 vs. Ole Miss), BOSTON COLLEGE (+9 vs. Miami), Akron (+14 vs. Ohio U), CENTRAL MICHIGAN (+10.5 vs. Toledo), NEW MEXICO (+7.5 vs. Utah State), ARKANSAS (+7.5 vs. Missouri), MICHIGAN STATE (+21 vs. Penn State), TEMPLE (+11.5 vs. Memphis), GEORGIA TECH (+24 vs. Georgia), SOUTH CAROLINA (+7 vs. Clemson), KENT STATE (+18.5 vs. Northern Illinois), ARIZONA STATE (+11.5 vs. Arizona), STANFORD (+26 vs. Notre Dame), FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (+10 vs. Western Kentucky), AUBURN (+15 vs. Alabama), BAYLOR (+9 vs. West Virginia), SOUTHERN MISS (+17 vs. Troy), UTEP (+17 vs. Liberty), NEVADA (+11 vs. Wyoming)
Steve’s thoughts: In most cases, home teams playing as heavy underdogs in the regular season finale are overmatched by the opponent and just trying to put a positive ending on a miserable season. That isn’t a huge motivating factor. There is a reason they are a big underdog, and typically, they don’t wind up showing much fight in these finale games.
CFB Regular Season Finale System #3
In season finale games since 2015, teams scoring more than 43 PPG are 34-8 SU and 26-15-1 ATS (63.4%) versus teams scoring less.
System matches: OREGON (-13.5 vs. Oregon State), LSU (-10.5 vs. Texas A&M)
Steve’s thoughts: Although this system lost last week with USC against UCLA, I stand by the merits of it, as the Trojans were in a different situation from most teams that fit the criteria. In most cases, these explosive teams are looking to make one more huge impression on fans and pollsters as they build momentum for a conference title or bowl game appearance. USC was reeling from a late-season collapse and had seen its offensive numbers dwindle down the stretch.
CFB Regular Season Finale System #4
In season finale games since 2015, when there has been a difference of four wins or more between the teams when the better team has been the road team in the matchup, the record has been 63-10 SU and 45-28 ATS (61.6%).
System matches: OLE MISS (-11 at Mississippi State), OHIO U (-14 at Akron), TOLEDO (-10.5 at Central Michigan), IOWA (+1 at Nebraska), MISSOURI (-7.5 at Arkansas), PENN STATE (-21 at Michigan State), MEMPHIS (-11.5 at Temple), GEORGIA (-24 at Georgia Tech), KANSAS (-6 at Cincinnati), FLORIDA STATE (-6.5 at Florida), MIAMI (OH) (-6.5 at Ball State), NORTHERN ILLINOIS (-18.5 at Kent State), ARIZONA (-11.5 at Arizona State), NOTRE DAME (-26 at Stanford), FRESNO STATE (-5.5 at San Diego State), ALABAMA (-15 at Auburn), WEST VIRGINIA (-9 at Baylor), TROY (-17 at Southern Miss), LIBERTY (-17 at UTEP), WYOMING (-11 at Nevada)
Steve’s thoughts: This is somewhat similar to #2 above. I think too much is made of late-season road games for a lot of quality teams, as I believe the difficulty of the task should only be measured by the quality of the opponent. When there is a four-game or better difference in wins between two teams at this point, there is an obvious strength difference and a probable motivational edge for the better team. You also get the added benefit of line value applied by oddsmakers for home-field advantage when it may or may not even apply in reality.
CFB Regular Season Finale System #5
One of the most intriguing regular season finale angles involves those teams trying to clinch bowl eligibility, as they are sitting with five wins. Since 2015, when those five-win teams faced teams with better records in the season finales, they have gone 25-40 SU but 39-24-1 ATS (61.9%).
System matches: MISSISSIPPI STATE (+11 vs. Ole Miss), CENTRAL MICHIGAN (+10.5 vs. Toledo), NEBRASKA (-1 vs. Iowa), TCU (+11 at Oklahoma), MINNESOTA (+2 vs. Wisconsin), FLORIDA (+6.5 vs. Florida St), SOUTH CAROLINA (+7 vs. Clemson), MARSHALL (-2.5 vs. Arkansas St), CALIFORNIA (+9.5 at UCLA), WASHINGTON STATE (+16.5 at Washington), BYU (+17 at Oklahoma State), ILLINOIS (-6 vs. Northwestern)
Steve’s thoughts: A lot of motivation comes with trying to clinch bowl eligibility, both in terms of money and in extending the season out another month. Unfortunately, when a team puts themselves in the difficult spot of having to accomplish that goal by beating a better team in the finale, the most often result is “close but no cigar.”
CFB Regular Season Finale System #6
College football season finale underdogs of four points or more with a better record than their opponent have gone just 3-16 SU and 5-14 ATS (26.3%) in their L19 tries.
System matches: (FADE ALL ATS) – EASTERN MICHIGAN (+6.5 at Buffalo), AIR FORCE (+6.5 at Boise State), NORTHWESTERN (+6 at Illinois)
Steve’s thoughts: Put these games in the column of “someone knows something”. Despite having a better record than the opponent, these teams are still sizable underdogs. Don’t be fooled by a line that seems too good to be true,
CFB Regular Season Finale System #7
Some of the best season-finale types of teams to fade have been the winning teams that don’t score a lot, as teams with winning records and scoring 24 PPG or fewer have gone just 13-17 SU and 7-24 ATS (22.6%) in their season finale games.
System matches: (FADE ALL ATS) – OHIO U (-14 at Akron), IOWA (+1 at Nebraska), WISCONSIN (-2 at Minnesota), RUTGERS (+1 vs. Maryland), NORTHWESTERN (+6 at Illinois)
Steve’s thoughts: This system makes a lot of sense as these may have winning records, but these teams aren’t complete, as they don’t score a lot. Often, they are laying points in the season finales because they are a winning team. I typically don’t like to trust teams laying points that aren’t capable offensively.
CFB Regular Season Finale System #8
College football season finale games expected to be defensive slugfests have been just that. As of the last 18 season finale games with totals less than 40, Under the total has gone 13-4-1 (76.5%).
System matches: EASTERN MICHIGAN-BUFFALO UNDER 35.5, IOWA-NEBRASKA UNDER 26.5, MIAMI (OH)-BALL STATE UNDER 36.5,
Steve’s thoughts: Expecting dead offenses to wake up in late season games that could even be impacted by negative weather circumstances has proven to be foolish. Oddsmakers are setting the pins for bettors. They just have to knock ’em down by playing the obvious.