NCAAF Betting Trends: Well Rested Teams Against Ranked Opponents

In the past we’ve detailed how the Top 25 rankings are typically an inaccurate representation of the College Football landscape, and how sharp bettors are able to exploit the public’s perception of rankings. The truth is that oddsmakers actually watch far more football than the average Associated Press voter and have a much better gauge on the talent of each team.

I’ve always been of the belief that the general public places unrealistic expectations on these youngsters. We treat these players like rock stars, when many of them are still just kids who are unaccustomed to the long flights, tough practices and strenuous academics that come with being a student-athlete. For that reason, my longstanding opinion has been that rest is even more crucial in the college game than it is in the pros.

In order to test this theory, I created a new betting system utilizing our Bet Labs software and used the “Days Between Games” filter to focus on teams with more than a week of rest. I quickly found that teams with 8+ days of rest had gone 1,257-1,223 (50.7%). Although this exposes a slight edge for bettors, it doesn’t come close to hitting the 52.38% win rate needed to overcome the typical -110 juice at most sportsbooks. However, when we focus on games against ranked opponents, the system improved greatly with a 257-230 ATS record (+13.11 units, 2.7% ROI).

Well Rested vs Ranked Opponents

Our system now has a significant sample size of nearly 500 games and solid returns but, like a spoiled child on Christmas morning, I am never satisfied. Past research has uncovered that huge underdogs have historically underperformed against ranked teams, so I opted to eliminate these bottom feeders by setting the “Team Win %” filter between 51% and 100% — this way our analysis focuses on teams with a winning record.

Although our actual units won remained essentially unchanged (+13.12 units), we were able to cut down the number of past matches by nearly 200 thus resulting in a 166-144 ATS record with a 4.2% return on investment (ROI).

The last part of my theory involves the location of a team’s previous game. Often time oddsmakers will shade their line if a team’s last game was on the road. The logic behind this is that teams are likely to be more fatigued after a tough road game and the subsequent travelling. However, I believe that those factors are mitigated when we’re focusing on teams who have had more than the usual week of rest. That hypothesis was confirmed when we added the “Previous Game Home/Visitor” filter to highlight teams who played their last game on the road and our system improved to 84-48 ATS (63.4%) with +31.89 units won and a 24.2% ROI.

Our final step was adding checking off the box to “hide duplicates.” This ensures that when both teams in a matchup fit this criteria, the game will be ignored as it will always result in a 1-1 record. This simple step eliminates 16 past matches and leads to a new record of 75-40 (65.2%) with +31.24 units won and a 27% ROI.

These are clearly impressive returns and, with just over 110 past system matches since 2005, we also have a significant sample size. These represent two of the three main criteria for building a winning betting system; however, the final question was whether we had achieved consistent year-to-year results. This is important because many bettors will build data-driven betting systems that had several profitable seasons in the past, but had since seen their results tail off in recent seasons.

The screenshot below displays the results graph taken directly from Bet Labs:

Well Rested vs. Ranked Teams

It may be tough to tell from the graph, but this system has been profitable every season with the exception of the 2005-06 season where it went 5-5 with -0.42 units lost. It has been particularly lucrative recently including a 12-3 mark (+8.41 units) last year.


There are two current game matches for this week’s slate of games, including a Big 12 rivalry and a primetime showdown between two major conferences. Want to receive all current game matches via e-mail or text message? Sign up for our 6-day Bet Labs trial and copy this system from our new and improved Think Tank.

For the latest real-time odds and public betting trends, be sure to visit our new and improved free College Football odds page. We also encourage users to look for lines that move against the public betting trends as reverse line movement is a very strong indicator of sharp money.

Have any questions for the staff at Sports Insights? E-mail us at help@sportsinsights.com, call us at 877-838-2853 or utilize our live chat function to speak directly with a customer service representative.

11/1/14 Update: This system has gone 7-4 ATS (+2.57 units won) during the 2014 season and it now 82-44 ATS (+33.81 units) overall.

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David Solar

David Solar has been the Content Manager at Sports Insights for over four years. He specializes in sports betting analytics and has created several popular data-driven betting systems. He can be reached directly at david@sportsinsights.com or on twitter at @TheDavidSolar.

5 Comments Permalink
5 comments on “NCAAF Betting Trends: Well Rested Teams Against Ranked Opponents
  1. Hello….I am a Pro member and I’m considering joining the Bet Labs, but I want to make sure the value is there. Using the AP Top 25 poll, there is no team coming off 8 days rest, who has a winning record, facing a top 25 opponent.

    The only teams with a win percentage of at least 51%, who are facing a top 25 team this week, all played last Saturday (Florida, WVU, Miss St, Virginia, Miami, Bowling Green).

    Please advise.

    • Actually we do have a current game match on Arizona State for their game next Thursday (9/25) against UCLA. The Sun Devils last game was at Colorado (9/13) meaning there will be 12 days between games and they are currently 3-0. However, there are no matches for this Saturday’s (9/20) slate of games.

  2. Hello David,

    I appreciate your posts and the work you do at Sports Insights.

    You mention that Arizona St. is a match tonight versus UCLA…why wouldn’t UCLA also qualify as a match? It’s last game was versus Texas (9/13) in Arlington. Is this because that game was played on a neutral field (even though it was a glorified home game for Texas and UCLA had to travel to Texas)? What is the record of this system when neutral fields are accounted?

    Thanks for your posts, great betting insight (no pun intended)!

    • You nailed it on the the head. Although UCLA’s last game was 12 days ago and Arizona State is currently ranked #15, technically their last game was on a neutral site — despite the fact the game was played in Arlington, TX.

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