It’s just one game.
That’s what coaches will say, and while players might buy that cliché, casual bettors do not. The public will overreact to the first week in college football.
The higher the profile of the game, and the larger the margin of defeat, the quicker it seems gamblers will push the panic button. Recreational gamblers have a tendency to fade teams that disappoint, especially at the ticket window, and the first game of the season is no exception.
That could be a mistake. According to Bet Labs, there is value in betting teams after a high-profile Week 1 loss.
What is the definition of a high-profile game? We are going to say any contest featuring a team ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll. There were nine such games in college football’s first full weekend of the season.
Since 2005, if you blindly bet a team in Week 2 after it played a top-10 opponent to begin the season, you would have gone 60-48-2 (56%) against the spread.
If that team lost, the win rate improves. The bigger the margin of the defeat, the more value the team has the next weekend:
Teams that lost in Week 1 to a top-10 team went 54-39-2 (58%) ATS in their second game. If the team lost by 10 or more points, the record improves to 42-28-2 (60%) ATS … but small samples are bad.
Correlation doesn’t equal causation. OK, we get it.
There is risk in placing bets based on this data, but I like teams in this situation. Early in the season is when we know the least about each squad.
If casual bettors want to overreact to a poor performance, I’ll gladly buy low, and it’s likely I’ll get teams with inflated lines.
This Saturday, six teams are in action following a loss to a top-10 team. I’ll be looking to buy back on these teams after a high-profile Week 1 loss:
- Florida Atlantic vs. Air Force (2 p.m. ET): Lost by 49 points to No. 7 Oklahoma
- Washington vs. North Dakota (5 p.m. ET): Lost by five points to No. 9 Auburn
- Appalachian State at Charlotte (6 p.m. ET): Lost by seven points to No. 10 Penn State
- Louisville vs. Indiana State (7 p.m. ET): Lost by 37 points to No. 1 Alabama
- Western Kentucky vs. Maine (7:30 p.m. ET): Lost by 31 points to No. 4 Wisconsin
- Oregon State vs. Southern Utah (8 p.m. ET): Lost by 46 points to No. 5 Ohio State
Note: Furman and Austin Peay lost to No. 2 Clemson and No. 3 Georgia, respectively. They play FCS opponents this week and won’t be betting options.