4 Keys To Handicapping NCAA Football

The NCAA football season begins in two months, bringing excitement to football fans and bettors. Last year, Clemson defeated Alabama 35-31 in a thrilling showdown. With a ton of divisions and games, bettors looking for action in NCAAF have a lot of options to choose from. However, betting on games comes with an inherent risk and novice bettors must exercise caution. Below are four tips to handicapping NCAAF games that will serve you well in the long run if followed:

Money Management

Money management is likely the most important aspect of betting on football, and betting on sports in general, but is also one of the most neglected. It is imperative to never bet more than you can afford to lose. If you are planning on following the 2017 NCAAF season diligently and regularly place wagers on games where you believe you have an edge, a general rule of thumb is to bet between 2-4% of your bankroll-to-date. What this means that if you are planning to bet 2% of your bankroll of $1,000, on the first day of the season, you would bet $20 per game. It would be smart to maintain the 2% per wager but adjust the amount of the wager based on your bankroll-to-date. Let’s suppose that halfway through the season, your original bankroll of $1,000 increases to $1,200. As a result, your wager(s) for the next day would be $24 per game ($1,200 x 2%). In essence, the percentage of your bankroll that you bet on games never changes – it always remains at 2%. However, the amount that you bet on games changes depending on the fluctuations of your bankroll, which could be daily if you’re an everyday bettor or weekly. It is also important to avoid chasing bets. If and when you find yourself in the midst of a losing streak, don’t try to wager more than 2-4% of your bankroll in order to win back your losses quicker or try to bet on a lot more games. If these two general money management rules are followed religiously, there’s no reason you should ever lose more than you can afford to.


With numerous on-the-field variables that could affect the outcome of a game, it is vital to take a step back and analyze a game from a big picture perspective. A big part of NCAAF is the scheduling of each team – who a team plays, where a team plays, and what point in the season a team is in the midst of. Schedules are extremely unbalanced in NCAAF and during some point in the season, one team may have a very favourable schedule whereas another team may have a brutal and grinding schedule or one team may be on a roll whereas another team may look out-of-sync. Additionally, whether a team is playing at home or away also plays a factor since emotion plays a much bigger role. As a result of this, it is critical to be able to ignore the current record of teams and focus instead on how teams have gotten to where they are. Playing in the comfortable and familiar confines of a team’s home field may provide a team with extra rest, proper ongoing treatment for injuries, and the loud appreciation and support from the home crowd. On the other hand, playing in multiple road games in a row in different states will drain the energy of players due to constant travelling, which may throw off the players’ usual routines and comfort levels.

Shop Around for Numbers

Point spreads and game totals for NCAAF games may fluctuate significantly from opening to closing as well as from one sportsbook to another. It is beneficial to track the movements of point spreads and game totals for the matchups that interest you in order to get a general feel for the direction of the movement to decide whether to lock in your bet or wait it out until a more favourable line is available. Too many times, the difference between winning and losing a bet comes down to a few points. With a wide selection of sportsbooks, point spreads and game totals may differ between different sportsbooks, since the sportsbooks will occasionally change their numbers based on the betting patterns of their customers. If you have an under totals bet in mind for a game, it helps to shop around for a 53.0 game total rather than taking the under at 53.5. If you have an underdog covering on the point spread for a game, it helps to shop around for a +9.0 spread instead of taking the spread at +8.5.

Research, Research, Research

It is never a bad thing to know too much information about a matchup as having more information allows an individual to obtain a more objective assessment of games. Knowing a team’s offensive and defensive schemes, player injuries, strength of schedule, past matchups, and etc. will provide you with a more comprehensive understanding of a specific game. Being diligent and overprepared is always better than being lost and underprepared. With 26 different conferences, there will be an abundance of games as well. If you are overwhelmed, it may be shrewd to focus on one or a few specific conferences of interest and develop a niche and follow it closely. Additionally, researching on different football services may also provide an individual with new insights and knowledge. However, it is important to find someone with a successful track record or someone who provides detailed write-ups for games (of course, the write-ups have to make sense and provide relevant information). I wouldn’t recommend ever paying for picks.

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