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NCAAF 101: College Football Handicapping Myths Debunked

With so many myths surrounding the elusive NCAA football betting edge, it can be hard to determine which way you should bet.

At Odds Shark, we’re like the Mulder and Scully of sports betting. We look into the lore of college football handicapping and sift through the nonsense so you can make smart college football picks. There are no aliens, just old-school sports handicappers who need to update their skills. Some betting angles are worth exploring but the myths we debunk below are about as real as Bigfoot.

Myth: College Football Games are Just Like the NFL

If we had a dollar for every time college football handicappers claimed that the NFL and college football are the same, we’d be rich – not just regular wealthy, we’d be ballin’ like Bill Gates. Although there are some similarities, the disparities in talent level and style of play are much more apparent in the college game. This makes matchups and tendencies all the more important when getting a handle on NCAAF games and odds.

Keep in mind that if it works on Sunday, it may not work on Saturday. The games move at a different pace. Plus, professional football players are older, wiser and more adept at entertaining a national audience.

Myth: I Can Be an Expert on All NCAAF Conferences

There are 11 Division 1 conferences (The American, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, C-USA, Independent, MAC, MW, Pac-12, SEC and Sun Belt) with six to 15 members each. If you were to study each one, you’d never leave the house, become a recluse and scare your neighbors. No matter how much you think you can know, there are simply too many teams out there for one sports bettor to get a handle on.

Instead of focusing on the entire college football organization, pick a conference you like best and learn everything there is to know about those teams. Our Standings page can help you with that. You can also use our Team Reports as a tool when it comes to crossover and bowl games where squads play outside of their conference.

Myth: College Football Season = Mo’ Games + Mo’ Money

Ask any rapper and they’ll tell you that money makes the world go ’round. However, you can’t look at the typical Saturday college football schedule and assume you’re going to get paid in full by betting on all the games. Even if you did place a bet on every game during the regular season, there’s no guarantee that you would win each bet.

Sure, there are more betting opportunities for college football based on the sheer number of games played each week, but you still need to be smart about your wagers, otherwise you will annihilate your bankroll like Michigan did to Michigan State in 1902 when the Wolverines beat the Spartans 119-0. Just because the sportsbook has odds for every single game listed doesn’t mean you need to make picks on all of them.

College football betting is perfect for multiple-team parlays. Bundle as many bets as you can onto one ticket and keep your betting amount low to ensure that losses aren’t too hard to recoup.

Myth: Totals Betting is the Only Way to Make a Profit

Totals betting, aka OVER/UNDER, is a fine way to bet on college football, but it’s not the only way. In totals betting, you’re wagering on the combined number of points scored by both teams to be OVER or UNDER the oddsmaker’s set number.

Since college football is often a high-scoring affair, it would seem like O/U betting is easier than picking a winner straight up or tackling the point spread. Like most urban legends, this is untrue. Yes, totals are fun but so are moneylines and trying to determine which team will cover the spread.

By the way, the only NCAA football urban legend that is true* is that one of the greatest coaches in college football and Alabama Crimson Tide history, Bear Bryant, actually did wrestle a carnivorous fuzzy mammal to earn his nickname.

*Odds are this isn’t true but it sure sounds cool.

Myth: Always Bet with the Public

This myth continues to be perpetuated even though there’s no clear science on why you should always bet with the consensus. The betting public is right as much as they are wrong. Just because Georgia is a double-digit favorite at home against Florida doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look into the Gators covering the spread. This is not to say that you need to fade the public every time, but examine both sides of a matchup before betting.

Myth: Only Bet on Ranked Teams

Teams that are ranked come with a certain prestige. Nevertheless, you don’t need to bet on them exclusively. If you do your research on any particular matchup, no matter which teams are playing, you can still make educated bets. Betting against ranked teams can be done if you find the right spots. A surging unranked squad can do some major damage against a No. 25 team that seems to be playing itself out of contention.

Winning your bets requires going against the fairytales to avoid the pitfalls that can damage your bankroll from week to week. And remember, myths are only worth it if they’re Greek in origin.