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Is Home Field Advantage Overrated When Betting on College Football ?

Is Home Field Advantage Overrated When Betting on College Football ?

In our recently completed 7-part email series 7 Essential Tips for Betting on College Football, Go Sooners and I discuss in great length some of the Do’s and Don’ts to consider when wagering on college football road games.

We had contemplated a similar piece on how to bet on college football home games but didn’t have as much material on hand to work with.

However I thought I would toss out two ideas to keep in mind before placing a wager on the home side.

1. Home team lines are usually inflated. I believe this to be especially true with home favorites, particularly the traditional powers like Oklahoma, LSU, Oregon and even Boise State who have had exceptional home records in the recent past.
In a study I recently read, Home Field Advantage – Stage 2, the author suggests that home field advantage is in fact real, but it isn’t as big a factor as most people make it out to be, especially for schools that play in those 80,000 to 100,000 seat “rocking behemoths that we love so much.”

The study points out that it was small, isolated stadiums that gave their teams the most boost on the scoreboard.

2. Home field advantage alone is NOT a good enough reason to wager on a team.

I find myself constantly being tempted by this scenario. You get a short line (2 or 3 points) and after you have capped the game you find that the majority of the numbers, angles, situations, etc indicate that these two teams are pretty even.

Bronco Stadium

Bronco Stadium

My train of thought at this point is that home field advantage alone is worth about 3 points – 3.500949 to be exact according to College Football By The Numbers. So why not wager the home team in this scenario?

However my past experience has demonstrated to me that this is not a good bet. So I did a little research at and sure enough, wagering on home teams that are favored by 3.5 points or less is a negative EV (expected value) proposition.


Overall ATS: 850-918-44 = 48.08% (avg line: -2.4) **

2011 ATS: 29-32-0 = 47.54% (avg line: -2.7)

2010 ATS: 38-29-2 = 56.72% (avg line: -2.6)

2009 ATS: 22-30-2 = 42.31% (avg line: -2.4)

2008 ATS: 34-36-3 = 48.57% (avg line: -2.6)

2007 ATS: 33-43-2 = 43.42% (avg line: -2.6)

** 1980 thru 2011

USC Cheerleaders

USC Song Girls

In conclusion, home field advantage definitely exists in sports, especially in college football where 19 and 20 year old kids are playing an emotional game in massive stadiums in front of rabid fans. However as I have pointed out, the overall concept of home field advantage is probably overrated, and if you plan on wagering on a short home favorite, you better have a more compelling angle, edge or advantage than simply home field.


What other college football betting tips are important when considering a wager on the home team? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks.


2 Responses to “Is Home Field Advantage Overrated When Betting on College Football ?”

  1. GoSooners GoSooners says:

    Good stuff Pez…We also need to keep in mind that the homefield advantage is already figured into the odds. It’s up to us to determin if the gap in the spread itself is too much or too little for the home team. Also, many times the weather can take away some of the homefield advantage. Especially in some of the November and early December games. Driving rainstorms or the cold and snow, and windy days can be the great equalizer in football. And virtually take away the homefield advantage altogether in some cases. What may have looked like a good bet on a Monday when your giving away say 30 points to an early season cupcake team, may not look like such a great bet on Saturday when it’s raining cats and dogs and the wind is blowing 30 mph. I’ve seen it happen many times. That’s why I’ve never been a big proponent of early betting. Especially when taking the favorite, and there is a considerable point spread involved. But that’s another subject.

    • Pezgordo Pezgordo says:

      Yes, home field advantage is definitely figured into the odds. You are going to pay a premium to wager on teams like Oregon, LSU or Boise at home.

      You and I have had the early in the week betting vs later in the week discussion on numerous occasions. As you know I am a proponent of trying to pick off some good opening lines, especially with totals.

      However you do bring up a good point about betting the favorite, or more so, betting at certain numbers early in the week. I read an article several years ago that said if you wager on numbers like +2.5 or +9.5 early in the week and those lines go down (in your favor) to +2 or +9, it is really no big deal mathematically. But if the number(s) go against you, you are literally losing some serious value.

      I’ll try and find the article and write a post on it. It had some good info.


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