Why is Contrarian College Football Betting so Profitable During Bowl Season?

Why is Contrarian College Football Betting so Profitable During Bowl Season?

College Football Bowl Season is right around the corner again and it’s a great time for contrarian bettors to seek value towards the end of the year. The bowl season allows for a unique set of postseason games; some teams over-perform expectations during the year while others have been letdowns. Every year there are programs that go through coaching and staffing changes during the bowl season, programs that are just playing for pride, or programs that are hoping to cap off a great year with a win. There’s a lot of moving pieces and plenty of ways for the public to sway their opinion. Similar to our 80/20 NFL Betting Against the Public System, our contrarian approach is applied to college football and shows you how to boost your bankroll betting bowl games.

The basis is relatively simple when you have good market data: back teams that the public isn’t. But of course there’s a bit more to it than that. Sportsbooks will have odds out for weeks for almost every game and will undoubtedly take a good amount of action on each one. SportsInsights.com tracks the numbers of bets placed on each game (available to all Premium and Pro members) and there is no shortage of betting on Bowls. Last year, 14 of the 20 most bet college football games of the year were Bowl games, including the top 8 most bet games of the season. In fact, the 2013 GoDaddy.com Bowl between Arkansas State and Kent State received more bets than the regular season games between Alabama/Georgia, USC/Stanford and South Carolina/LSU.

Bettors can use this time to their advantage by tracking the market and line movements to get a clear understanding of where the public is betting on every game. Most public bettors still tend to back favorites, and when mixed with the unpredictability of the bowl season, unpopular underdogs tend to cover more often than not. This influx of bets and public money on one side ends up creating value on the other side; the line may move and sharps will come in to grab it, or the line won’t move and sportsbooks will end up with more liability on the public side.

A key factor when formulating any type of system is consistency, and below is just a broad sample of how contrarian betting is essential at this time of year. Using only a couple filters with our Bet Labs data analysis software  (Postseason and Public Betting %), we found that all teams receiving less than 40% of spread bets have gone 93-63 (59.6%) ATS for +24.6 units won.  To filter out the results a bit more, we deciding to take a look just at underdogs that were receiving less than 40% of spread bets. Since all bowl-eligible teams need at least a .500 record during the regular season, large spreads tend to be a bit more rare for bowl games. The largest spread in our database for a bowl game is only +18 ( Purdue vs. Oklahoma State on 1/1/13), which is interesting to note since this year’s ACC Championship featured a line of Florida State -30 vs. Duke.

Even with all the political nonsense associated with the BCS and bowls, there does seem to be an effort to create competitive games. While we’d usually consider “bigger” underdogs to be dogs getting at least 10 points, those are fairly uncommon in the postseason (only 24 such games over the last 8 years). To find something with more volume and results and ultimately more units won, we can broaden it to all underdogs getting 3+ points. Using our Bet Labs data analysis software, we found that these 3+ underdogs receiving less than 40% of spread bets have gone 77-44 (63.6%) ATS, netting +28.4 units won (shown below).


NCAAF Bowl System less than 40 percent of bets plus 3

BetLabs graph1

While there are 19 bowl games that fit these criteria, at the time of publication, that number is simply too many to bet with only 35 total bowls. However, this general contrarian strategy is heavily factored in when releasing our College Football Best Bets, which are 49-35 (58.3%) ATS this season and 16-5 (76.2%) ATS over the past three bowl seasons.

Want to receive each of our College Football Best Bets this bowl season? Signup for a month of our Pro membership and access all of our Best Bets picks for college football as well our NFL Best Bets, which have posted 40-27 (59.7%) ATS record through Week 16.

From the graphs and yearly results, you can see that these contrarian philosophies breed consistency. We always stress the importance of knowing where the square and sharp money is and Betting against the Public during the college football bowl season has performed well every year without any big swings or valleys in the results.

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Dan McGuire

Dan McGuire is the Operations Manager and soccer specialist at Sports Insights. You can find him on Twitter (@ArsenalDMC) and he can be reached directly at dan.mcguire@actionnetwork.com.

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