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Tip # 6: Betting on College Football Road Games

Betting on college football road games is an entirely different monster than anything we have discussed to this point. A personal theory that I try to remember when considering wagering on an away team is that there must be a “higher burden of proof” before I consider the wager.

More specifically, I am more likely to take a chance and wager on a mediocre team at home than I am on the road. A team’s weaknesses and personnel issues (players and coaches) seem to get exposed on the road more so than they do at home.

As we have pointed out on several occasions throughout this 7-part series, there are no hard and fast rules when betting on college football and this information should only be used as a guide. However, for the remainder of this article, I want to get into some specific do’s and don’ts when considering wagering on an away team.

DO’S

A few general guidelines I like to follow when considering wagering on an away team include:

  • They must be a good defensive team, especially against the run. I believe this to be especially true when considering a road favorite. I don’t play many road favorites unless they have a team who can overwhelm their opponent and shut them down on defense.
  • They must be able to run the football – This does not mean that a team needs to be predominantly a running team.  What I am talking about here is the ability to effectively run the football when they want to (for balance) and when they need to (in the red zone and at the end of the game).
  • Not turn the ball over – Since turnovers are projected to be anywhere from 70% to 80% random it is pretty difficult to predict with any accuracy when a team is likely to have a bad turnover game. Perhaps what we should say here is a team should not have a “tendency” to turn the ball over. Some teams just turn the ball over more often than other teams. I would be very cautious when considering wagering on a road team that has a tendency to turn the ball over.
  • Have stability at the QB position – I cannot emphasize enough how important the QB position is in college football. It is even more crucial when considering a road team to wager on.

DON’TS

  • Don’t lay points on the road on a team that has a bad defense – Wagering on any bad defensive team, whether it be home, away, as a favorite or a dog is a risky proposition. Wagering on a bad defensive team on the road is just a very bad combination.
  • Don’t give points on the road in a game you expect to be a defensive battle – Again you could very well say this about any game, but you should be extra cautious when analyzing away teams that fall into this category.
  • Don’t wager on inconsistent teams on the road, especially in the role of a favorite – an inconsistent team isn’t necessarily a bad team, but as we touched upon earlier, inconsistency is certainly a flaw, and a team’s flaws tend to get exposed more so on the road. Inconsistency also, but not always, has to do with bad coaching. And I suggest you rarely, if ever, consider wagering on a bad coach on the road.

Experience is a factor

Experience is an important handicapping factor that you need to take into account when analyzing any college football game. And as we have been emphasizing throughout the current subject matter, these factors are increased when dealing with teams on the road.

A good example of this from the 2011 season was Oregon coach Chip Kelly discussing how his team benefits more (playing at home) than, the 2010 team and its senior-laden offensive line. “I think so,” Kelly said. “Obviously, we’ve played better at home than we have on the road.”

Oregon was actually 5-1 on the road in 2011 and 4-1-1 ATS, but Kelly made these comments earlier in the season and his point is well taken. More experienced teams tend to play better on the road than less experienced teams.

Stanford was also a good example of this from 2011. The Cardinal had an experienced QB (Andrew Luck), OL, receivers and anywhere from 7 to 8 upperclassmen in the defensive starting lineup throughout the season. They went 6-0 SU & ATS, covering double digit spreads on 4 occasions.

So when should you wager on a road team?

We’ve pointed out some do’s and don’ts to consider when looking at road teams to wager on. I believe a good general rule to follow is to look to wager on good fundamental teams with few personnel issues, experienced players and coaches. A team should be really sound before you consider wagering on them on the road, especially if you are giving points.

Look to wager against away teams that appear to have team issues in personnel and experience and coaches who do not have a good track record on the road.

As always there are going to be exceptions to any of these guidelines, but if you adhere to a “higher burden of proof” when analyzing road teams, you will be better off for it.

 

P.S.

If you got here without being subscribed to the Saturday Edge newsletter, you’re missing out! This is tip #7 in a 7-part FREE series on smarter ways to handicap college football. If you’re not already a subscriber, click here to learn more about it.

 

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