If you haven’t noticed already, I place a great amount of emphasis on statistics and numbers when it comes to breaking down the game of college football. In the world of sports betting, taking the extra time to understand these facts and figures is often the difference between turning a profit or consistently losing your bankroll. While it may be entertaining to have action on a game, I think we would all agree it is much more enjoyable when you are winning. The good news is that when making plays against the spread, you do not need to win every bet in order to turn a profit.
Today, the industry standard price for making a bet against the spread is -110. This means that you must risk $110 in order to make a profit of $100. If a particular team or side is getting more money or action, the bookie may increase the “juice” which is also known as the bookie’s cut for taking a bet from a gambler. In this case, that extra $10 you are risking is the bookie’s cut. If you are only making bets at the price of -110, you would need to win at least 52.3% of the time in order to turn a profit. Doesn’t seem that hard, right? That means winning just over half of your bets. If you’re new to this that’s probably what you’re thinking, but the reality is that even the best professional handicappers hope to win 55% of the time.
Bankroll management is crucial to long-term success in the industry. Just like running your own business, you can’t risk all of your money on one marketing campaign or on one product launch. Professionals will risk a small percentage (ex. 2%) of their entire bankroll per bet and hope to turn a profit making a large number of these bets. They play the percentages and dig deep to find an edge that they can capitalize on. Public gamblers will pick a side they like or listen to the first headline they see on SportsCenter before placing a bet on a game. They are simply looking to have action, and view it as pure entertainment with the hope that they might win some quick money.
No matter which side of the equation you are on, may these college football statistics help you find that edge this season. Here is a breakdown of the spreads with the best winning percentages, and some week 1 lines that I am keeping a close eye on as we approach the 2018 season.
Spreads with the best-winning % since 2003
- -44.5 (8-3, 72.7%)
- -39 (15-6-2, 71.4%)
- -35 (27-16-2, 62.8%)
- -30.5 (26-17, 60.5%)
- -23/23.5 (106-81-1, 56.7%)
- -20 (69-45-2, 60.5%)
- -16 (57-42, 57.6%)
- +45 (7-4, 63.6%)
- +42 (11-4-1, 73.3%)
- +35.5/36 (26-16-1, 61.9%)
- +32.5 (21-7, 75%)
Remember when I said that professional handicappers hope to win just 55% of their bets? Well, all of those spread numbers mentioned have a winning percentage significantly higher than 55% since 2003. It’s safe to say that those are the numbers you should be looking for on your book in 2018.
Spreads with the best-winning % straight up since 2003
- -26 (58-0, 100%)
- -21.5 (99-3, 97.1%)
- -16.5/17 (363-40, 90.1%)
- -14 (292-42, 87.4%)
- -11.5 (118-25, 82.5%)
- -9 (105-21, 83.3%)
- -6.5/7 (675-294, 69.7%)
Yes, it’s true. Teams favored by exactly 26 points are undefeated straight up since 2003. If you see -26 in your book, add it to your parlay without a second thought. When looking for money lines to feel confident in adding to your degenerate weekend parlay, look no further than the teams with those spread numbers.
Key Week 1 Spreads (based on percentages above)
Illinois -16 vs. Kent St (57-42, 57.6%)
UCLA -16 vs. Cincinnati (57-42, 57.6%)
Week 1 Moneyline Locks (based on percentages above)
USC -26 vs. UNLV (58-0, 100%)
Kentucky -17 vs. Central Michigan (363-40, 90.1%)
Arizona St -17 vs. Texas San Antonio (363-40, 90.1%)
Arizona -14 vs. BYU (292-42, 87.4%)
Colorado St -14 vs. Hawaii (292-42, 87.4%)
Stanford -14 vs. San Diego St (292-42, 87.4%)
Week 1 figures you cannot ignore…
Teams that lose 3 games or less the previous year, and who won last years opener by 3 TD’s, are 3-33-6 (9.0%) against the spread in week 1.
Teams with a new HC/OC/DC/QB tend to struggle against the spread in their first 4 weeks.
Teams that fit the mold:
- 13-0 record in 2017
- Won 2017 season opener 61-17 vs. FIU
- Open 2018 @ UConn
- HC Scott Frost left for Nebraska
- The Play: UConn +24
San Diego St
- 10-3 record in 2017
- Won 2017 season opener 38-17 vs. UC Davis
- Open 2018 @ Stanford
- The Play: Stanford -14
- 10-3 record in 2017
- Won 2017 season opener 64-6 vs. Fordham
- Open 2018 @ Duke
- The Play: Duke -11
- 10-3 record in 2017
- Won 2017 season opener 49-16 vs. Temple
- Open 2018 vs. Michigan
- DC Mike Elko left for Texas A&M
- The Play: Michigan -2