There are at least a half-dozen factors that separate college football betting from NFL betting. For starters, action on college football is much more likely to come from sophisticated bettors, known as “sharps” or “wiseguys”, who often possess some insight or kernel of information that may provide them with an edge against the house. Experienced bet takers know not to treat heavy activity on an obscure game, such as East Carolina versus Wake Forest, as casually as they might deal with increased wagering interest on a marquee NFL game such as a Redskins-Cowboys confrontation. For that reason, bookmakers usually move college football betting lines quickly, often one full point at a time. In general, it takes more money to move an NFL betting line and, when it is moved, usually it is by only half a point.
Largely because of a lack of proficiency in the kicking game, key numbers such as 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 13 and 14 are not nearly as sacrosanct in college football betting as they are in the NFL. College football games just do not fall on those numbers as often as they do in NFL contests.
We may never again see a three-touchdown favorite in the NFL but lines of -30, -40, or even -50 are not that uncommon in the college gridiron game. Oddsmakers and bookmakers also find college totals more difficult to gauge because some coaches try to impress those who have a vote in the polls by running up the score. Others, such as Penn State’s Joe Paterno, feel that a third-string player’s reward for practicing all week is to get to play in a blowout. It’s just these types of unique uncertainties that compel bookmakers to shift college “over/under” numbers more quickly than they move NFL totals.
It’s also the nature of college football that personnel change every year. This makes early season evaluation more difficult and leads bet takers to move lines and totals more quickly, especially in September and early October when the season is still young. There is personnel movement in the NFL too, of course, but mostly it involves players of established ability moving from team to team. In college football, you’re always dealing with fresh faces.
By collective bargaining agreement, each week, the NFL publishes a comprehensive list of injured players and their status. Sure, there are mistakes and abuses and players who have been listed as “doubtful” have played while those regarded as “probable” have not but overall, the list is accurate. On the other hand, colleges are under no obligation to announce the status of injured or disciplined football players. This vagueness over availability sometimes can create opportunities in college football betting. Consequently, bookmakers are wary if too much wagering attention is paid to one team.
When it comes to parlay card numbers, you are much more apt to see a slight gap between those prices printed on cards and those posted on the board in the NFL than you are in college football. The key element is that bookmakers can more accurately predict the public inclination for an NFL game than they can for a college football game. It’s not unusual then for traditionally popular team such as Dallas or a “hot” team such as Cincinnati, to be listed as a 7 1/2-point favorite on a parlay card but just a 6 1/2 or 7-point choice on the board. Through experience, bookmakers know that “public” teams such as the Cowboys, as well as “now” teams such as the Bengals, will be more aggressively played on parlay cards than they are straight up.
Clearly, understanding the differences between college football betting and NFL betting is essential to winning.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN COLLEGE AND PRO FOOTBALL
‘Wiseguys’ frequently supply the action
College football betting lines often are moved by a full point at a time
Key numbers are not as important
Personnel changes can make early season analysis difficult
Information on injuries is not always accessible
There’s usually not a disparity between parlay card and board numbers
Money from public is prevalent
Betting lines are usually moved by a half-point at a time
Key numbers are VERY important
Personnel changes are less volatile and easier to evaluate
Information on injuries usually is accessible
Parlay card numbers sometimes are intentionally different than prices on the board.