Five college football systems for Week 0/1

August 23, 2022 06:56 PM
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When studying data in search of betting systems for our readers to use in their handicapping, 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 instance, the opening week of the college football season presents interesting matchups every year, and the prices set by oddsmakers can give bettors valuable insight as to how the “experts” are evaluating the games. I first dug into this last year and had some 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 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 think that by following the lead of these two groups, all bettors should be able to take advantage. Studying the results of games against the lines does that. 

With that in mind, I wanted to find out whether there were any relatively simple systems or concepts that bettors can take advantage of in the opening weeks of the college football season. In other words the next two weekends. These systems are in addition to the College Football Stability System plays I will be releasing for this week and next in PSW. Note that there are three Stability Score plays for this week that I detail in a separate article.

After studying the Weeks 0 and 1 games for the last nine seasons, I came up with five betting concepts that you might want to consider. Note that most of the qualifying plays are next week, but there are some for this Saturday. 

CFB Week 0/1 Betting Concept No. 1

Huge favorites (-37.5 or higher) have been automatic since 2013, going 9-0 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 talent gap. In addition, the better team always played at home in these games, which comes with an additional level of motivation 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 59.3-9.1 on games with average lines of -39.4. In 2021, two games applied: Pittsburgh (-37.5) beating Massachusetts 51-7, and Auburn (-37.5) beating Akron 60-10. 

Teams qualifying for 2022: There are three games with massive lines for this year in Weeks 0/1, not bad considering there have been only nine in the last nine years combined. These are the huge favorites that are expected to roll in their openers: 

— MINNESOTA vs. New Mexico State

— ALABAMA vs. Utah State

— TEXAS vs. Louisiana-Monroe

CFB Week 0/1 Betting Concept No. 2

Favorites have been far more reliable at home and on neutral fields since 2013 (140-123 ATS, 53.2%) than on the road (30-45 ATS, 40%). 

Steve’s thoughts: As I indicated in No. 1, there is a lot of motivation that comes from playing at home in a season opener. 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 nine seasons, opening-week home teams are generally the better bet as they own the ATS ledger as favorites and underdogs. If you’re a bettor who prefers to back “the better team,” recognize that there has been a 13.2% difference between the success rates of home and road favorites beating their points spreads in Week 0/1 games of late. 

Teams qualifying for 2022: By my count, there are 17 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. Besides home underdog covers, there’s the possibility of outright upsets as well. Highlight these road favorite games when starting your handicapping and consider that these “better teams” will be facing motivated home dogs. 

— NEVADA at New Mexico

— VANDERBILT at Hawaii

— PENN STATE at Purdue

— VIRGINIA TECH at Old Dominion

— TCU at Colorado

— NORTH CAROLINA at Appalachian State

— NC STATE at East Carolina

— TULSA at Wyoming

— HOUSTON at Texas-San Antonio

— BYU at South Florida

— FLORIDA ATLANTIC at Ohio

— UTAH at Florida

— LIBERTY at Southern Miss

— SMU at North Texas

— LOUISVILLE at Syracuse

— WESTERN KENTUCKY at Hawaii

— CLEMSON at Georgia Tech 

CFB Week 0/1 Betting Concept No. 3

Laying a TD or more in a game matching Group of 5 teams has been risky, as these teams are just 18-25 ATS (41.9%) since 2013.

Steve’s thoughts: For as much as there are expanded previews of the Group of 5 teams published by experts like Phil Steele, Brad Powers, Kenny White and our group here at VSiN, you have to figure that analyzing a team filled with more high-level talent (3-star and higher) of the Power 5 conference teams is easier than those trying to make the most out of the more commonplace two-star-level players of the Group of 5s. In other words, projecting point spreads for the latter is more speculative. This leaves more margin for error, and as it has turned out recently, it seems that underdogs in these Group of 5 matchups take a lot of motivation from the slight. 

Group of 5 matchup big favorites qualifying for 2022: On average there have been fewer than five games per season in which one Group of 5 team was favored by a TD or more over another. This year, we get eight games as of publication time. These are the heavy favorites that would be worth fading should the system continue: 

— UTAH STATE vs. Connecticut

— FLORIDA ATLANTIC vs. Charlotte

— NEVADA at NEW MEXICO STATE

— BYU at South Florida

— JAMES MADISON vs. Middle Tennessee State

— TULANE vs. Massachusetts

— SMU at North Texas

— WESTERN KENTUCKY at Hawaii 

CFB Week 0/1 Betting Concept No. 4

Favorites in games between two conference opponents have struggled to both win and cover games, going 9-9 SU and 7-11 ATS (38.8%) since 2016. 

Steve’s thoughts: The importance of conference games, even in the opening weeks of the season, can’t be understated. Conference clashes typically bring out the best in focus and level of preparation. It’s difficult to open a season against a rival. This familiarity takes away a lot of the motivational edge better teams get in early-season matchups. If you figure that conference favorites have covered at only a 38.9% rate and all other favorites have gone 50.3%, there is better than an 11% advantage to betting a favorite in a nonconference game in Weeks 0/1. Conference games this early are rare, but there are five Big Ten clashes and an ACC tilt on tap for the next two weekends.

Conference game favorites qualifying for 2022: We have seven games matching conference opponents in Weeks 0/1. This includes the North Texas/UTEP game Saturday that was showing a line of pick-'em as of Tuesday morning. 

— NEBRASKA vs. Northwestern

— FLORIDA ATLANTIC vs. Charlotte

— PENN STATE at Purdue

— INDIANA vs. Illinois

— LOUISVILLE at Syracuse

— CLEMSON at Georgia Tech 

CFB Week 0/1 Betting Concept No. 5

Oddsmakers are leading you to water on low-totaled games, especially with bigger favorites, as in games with totals of 48 or less and a favorite of 4 points or more, Under the total is 22-6 (78.6%) since 2013

Steve’s thoughts: Remember, the oddsmakers 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 12.9 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 eight 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 4 points or more qualifying for 2022: There are only two games officially qualifying as Under plays as of publication time and they both involve Illinois, but the Arizona/San Diego State and Clemson/Georgia Tech matchups both showed numbers of 48.5 and could eventually wind up qualifying. 

— Wyoming at Illinois

— Illinois at Indiana

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