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Who’s The Best Non-Conference Bet In College Football?

This offseason there was a media debate going as to which conference is tops in college football – the ACC or the SEC? 

The only real answer I care about is which one is best in betting terms so I asked our data team to dig into the betting records for non-conference play. Turns out it’s the ACC in recent seasons and it’s not really all that close. 

The ACC covered the spread at a 54.4 percent rate over the past five years vs non-league foes and a 53.3 percent rate over the last 10 years. The next best conference over the past five years was the MAC (Mid-American) at 52.6 percent and the Big 12 was actually better over the past 10 years at 55.3 percent. 

I feel the more recent numbers are the more relevant ones because you still have some of the same core teams together from the past five years. A lot can change — and has changed — in college football when we go back as far as 10 years but I put the numbers in there for your reference anyway. 

The most surprising numbers for me were with the SEC, which is the worst bet over the last five years with a 46 percent cover rate in non-con play. It’s surprising because the SEC is the second-best straight up with a winning rate of 84.1 percent. Only the Pac-12 is better at 85.1 percent. 

This is clear evidence that SEC lines tend to be inflated when it comes to non-conference games and it’s something you may want to keep in mind heading into the season. I also think we’ll see less value overall in the ACC this non-conference season coming off a national championship year. 

Below is a more complete list of numbers by conference:

College Football Non-Conference Records
ConferenceL5 years SUL5 years ATSL10 years SUL10 years ATS
Big 12108-3271-69277-75176-142-2
Big Ten182-58118-118-4345-111204-215-4
Sun Belt101-129117-109-4147-270199-223-5
Mountain West107-125102-111-6208-201178-197-9
Conference USA96-163121-132-5191-307217-243-7

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