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A Guide to the Best College Football Bowl Betting Strategies

The NCAAF regular season runs from August 24 to December 14. As soon as the last game is played, you can start handicapping your postseason bets. The bowls take place from December 20 to January 13, giving sports bettors more betting opportunities for their buck. There are 40 bowls in total and unlike the bowl of candy that’s been sitting on your grandma’s coffee table since 1981, these are full of action.

But, you say, how will I ever handicap all 40 matchups? Well, you don’t have to. Here at Odds Shark, we’ve got the ultimate strategies for your bowl game bets to help you make smart college football picks.

NCAA Football Bowl Betting Strategies

Compared to NFL betting on the Super Bowl, where there’s only two teams to research, you could potentially wager on every single postseason college game. It would require diligence on your part – or you could just keep it locked to Odds Shark for betting tips and sports insights. We say do the latter.

Straight-Up Betting: Choosing a Team to Win the Game

This is a bet where you would have to pick a winner straight up (SU). Before making a moneyline bet, look at both teams in the matchup and see who is the favorite (-) and who is the underdog (+). At the sportsbook, the odds would look something like this:

Fiesta Bowl:

LSU Tigers -200

UCF Knights +150

Oddsmakers look at everything from schedule to injuries before creating the betting lines. In this case, they consider LSU the favorite because they’re a stronger team even though they only went 9-3. Although UCF was 12-0, their conference was weaker and they only played against lesser teams. For a scenario like this, it’d be wise to trust the odds and take the Tigers.

In actuality, LSU did beat UCF 40-32 in the 2018 Fiesta Bowl.

Point Spread: Which Team will Cover

The Florida Gators were 4-point favorites against the Michigan Wolverines in a previous Peach Bowl. The Gators were also 8-4 against the spread (ATS) going into the game, whereas the Wolverines were 6-6.

In the end, Florida covered the spread since the final score was 41-15 for them. Handicapping the spread for a bowl game requires a look at both teams’ records ATS and how many points they’ve put up against their past opponents. High-scoring teams don’t always cover, but with only four points to account for, there’s a good chance they will.

Totals Betting: Predicting the Combined Score

Trying to decide if the total score will go OVER or UNDER the oddsmaker’s set number is what makes sports betting so much fun. In a former Orange Bowl between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Oklahoma Sooners, the total was set at 80. The final was 45-34, which is only 79. For a bet like this, you’d look at how strong each team is on defense. Do they usually keep their opponents in check or do they let offenses sneak in a touchdown every so often?

Parlay Betting: Multiple Bets on One Card

Bundling your bets can be a great idea for bowl season. With parlays you can combine numerous bets on one ticket, which makes sense for college football bowls since there are so many of them played at the same time. If there’s a few matchups that you’re not sure about but feel there’s betting value, create a parlay for them. That way, you can take the moneyline on one bowl, totals on another, and add a spread bet for a different bowl.

Betting Against the Public

Postseason college football betting provides you with opportunities to fade the public. During the regular season, teams could blast through their opponents like dynamite because of a weak schedule. However, that same team could have trouble finding its groove during the Citrus Bowl when it’s matched up against a squad that had a tough regular-season itinerary.

In these scenarios, you could bet against the public consensus if they’re backing the crew who spent their season playing in lollipop and ice cream games. Look at who the team faced up until their bowl appearance. Were they playing teams that gave them a run for their money? If not, this could be a good spot to bet against the consensus.

No disrespect to lollipops and ice cream.

Motivation is Key for Bowl Games

A team that is making its first bowl appearance ever or its first bowl appearance in a long while is going to be very excited. In addition to wanting to represent their school, these players want to put on a clinic in front of their fans.

The same is true for teams that have a lot of seniors on their roster. Some of these players at big schools may be on their way to the NFL, but the majority of them will be playing their last football game ever. A squad loaded with seniors at key positions is likely to play above par. This could be to prove that they deserve to head to the pros or are looking for a win the last time they take the field. Many college teams are built like families and this tight-knit group will do everything they can to ensure a victory for their brothers.

Another great motivator is losing in a bowl game the previous year. After letting their supporters down the year before, a team that gets another shot at a bowl game the following year should have a chip on its shoulder to earn the win this time around.

Conversely, teams could find themselves in letdown spots. This is when an elite squad had its sights set on a huge bowl game, only to fall short and end up in a lesser one. A good example of this would be the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2014. Nick Saban’s squad recorded a loss vs Auburn in the Iron Bowl after going 11-0 SU and 7-4 ATS in their previous 11 games. Bama, still dejected from their loss, headed into the Sugar Bowl and lost 45-31 to Oklahoma even though they were favored by 17 points.

In some bowl games, you can find both a team that is highly motivated and a team that could be poised for a letdown. In these types of matchups, if you do your homework – or at least let us do it for you with our Betting Trends page – you could see yourself making a lot of cash on college football games.

Using our NCAAF Database

Besides using our college football betting strategies and betting tips, check out our college football Database. This tool will show you how a team performed in the past ATS and SU. You’ll also see how they do on the road, at home, as a favorite, as the underdog, and what the totals were for a particular game.

For example if you wanted to take the Ohio State Buckeyes SU in the Rose Bowl, you would want to see their last 30 Games, played in Any Month, during the Postseason, Anywhere, as a Fave and Dog.

Or, maybe you want to see if the Clemson Tigers could cover the spread in the Cotton Bowl. You’d do the same. You can leave the Opponent field blank for a bigger snapshot or put in their foe for the bowl game they’re playing in. Keep in mind that they may not have played their bowl opponent in years and then you would need a different sample size to fully handicap your bet.