Betting the College Football Postseason

Take advantage of betting the college football postseason.

Key Points

– Betting the college football postseason is different than the regular season.

– Know what to look for when betting the college football postseason.

Betting the College Football Postseason

It’s one of the greatest times of each year. College football bowl season is an exciting time as it occurs over the holiday season. Betting the college football postseason is completely different than handicapping the regular season.

Bettors must weigh certain factors a bit more heavily when betting the bowl season. The same holds true for the College Football Playoff

To get the most out of the college football postseason and win more football bets, keep these tools in your toolbox.

Jimmies, Joes & Coaches

Football is a game of “Jimmies and Joes” meaning matchups matter. If you have a team like Alabama playing a team like UTEP – not likely in the bowl season – the Crimson Tide simply has better players. They also have the better head coach.

It is important to consider coaches and players especially in today’s age of coaching changes and player opt-outs. Many big-name – and even not so big name – players will forego playing in a bowl game to get ready for the NFL draft. 

It’s also a time of year when there are coaching changes. In some instances, a new head coach will coach in a bowl game. It’s rare, but it is something a bettor must consider when handicapping a game.


Motivation is Key in Betting the College Football Postseason

A bowl game can be more or less meaningful for the teams playing. The actual bowl game itself can play a role in betting the college football postseason.

A Power 5 program that ends up in a lower-tier bowl game may not be as motivated as its Group of 5 opponent. Sometimes, handicapping a bowl game can be as simple as which team wants to be there.

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Bettors should also be aware of these nuggets:

  • The service academies – Army, Navy, and Air Force – have covered the spread more than 70 percent of the time in bowl games over the previous 40 years. They always play hard and are always motivated to win.
  • Teams that performed poorly in the previous season tend to do well in bowl games the following season. Since 2005, teams with 0 to 3 wins in the previous season have gone 27-9 ATS in bowls the next season. It might be worth looking for teams that fit this mold.
  • Getting over .500 seems to be an incentive to play well in bowl games. Since 2005, six-win teams facing a team with a winning record in a bowl game are 68-48-2 ATS. That includes going 45-25-1 ATS as an underdog. Targeting teams that won their final regular season game to get to six wins has also been profitable. They are 26-11-1 ATS in their bowl games.

Bet on Coaching Experience

With so much time to prepare for a bowl  game, it is obvious that a coaching advantage can emerge. Additionally, teams with the more experienced coach generally perform considerably better against the spread.

This is particularly true when very experienced coaches are up against rookies, which happens often. There are also a number of times when an interim head coach will coach for the first time in a bowl game. 

The bottom line is that experienced coaches have been through the bowl process before. They know how to prepare and navigate their teams through all of the bowl-related distractions.

Watch the Market

There is a good bit of time between the end of the regular season and bowl games. That means there is plenty of time for markets to change. Bettors that understand why betting lines move know to tread lightly.

Take the 2021 Peach Bowl as an example. Michigan State played Pittsburgh, but Panthers QB Kenny Pickett opted out of the game. Lines varied up until Pickett decided not to play then shifted toward Michigan State.

Always be aware of the market for games you are interested in.

Location Is Important in Betting the College Football Postseason

Nearly all bowl games are held at neutral venues. Knowing where a game is played can give you some insight into a few things. The biggest one is travel.

Imagine being a team from the West Coast and playing in the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit, Michigan. The opponent is Toledo, which is located just across the border in Ohio and is about 60 miles from Detroit. Which team do you think will have an advantage in the number of fans attending? 

That brings up another important consideration in terms of location. The Quick Lane Bowl is played indoors so weather is not a factor. The Idaho Potato Bowl is played in Boise in an outdoor stadium. The elements will have to be factored into any handicapping.

Betting the College Football Postseason

Beware of Dog

Bettors should be on alert for double-digit underdogs in bowl games. Underdogs of +10 or more have gone 41-30 – that’s 57.5 percent – against the spread since 2005. 

If you think about it, teams that are getting 10 or more points are usually playing a Power 5 team in a lower-tier bowl game. A Big Ten team, for example, went 10-2 and didn’t win its division which knocked it out of the conference championship picture. That team ends up in a bowl game before Christmas.

This is where the motivation factor comes into play. The double-digit favorite isn’t all that motivated and doesn’t play as well. In 2021 for example, Northern Illinois, UTEP, Texas Tech, and South Carolina all covered as double-digit underdogs. Texas Tech and South Carolina actually won their games as +10 and +13 underdogs, respectively.

Point Spread or Moneyline?

Those betting the college football postseason will run into a 1.5-point favorite or underdog quite a bit. You have two pretty evenly matched teams in a game that the oddsmakers see as close.

Before considering betting the point spread, bettors should bet the moneyline. Again, motivation plays a role and teams want to win. They aren’t typically going to play for overtime in a close game.

More coaches in bowl games will gamble and go for two in a close game. As a result, bettors should look at the moneyline odds in situations where the point spread is 1 or 1.5. The short spread may also be an indication to lay off and avoid a big sports betting loss.

Watch Early Conference Results

It also helps to look at conferences and how they fare early on in the bowl season. For example, the MAC typically doesn’t do well in bowl games. Since 2005, MAC teams are 31-43-4 ATS.  

Over the past two seasons however, the MAC is 10-6-1 ATS. Group of 5 conferences will play well some years. Again, the motivation factor comes into play. In the 2021 college football season, the American Athletic Conference, Mountain West, and the Sun Belt went a combined 11-3 SU.