Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Appalachian State Mountaineers quarterback Zac Thomas
- College football bettors should be wary of wagering on ranked Group of Five teams such as Appalachian State in Week 9 of the 2018 season.
- Using our Bet Labs software, we analyze how bettors can profit from these situations.
In the latest edition of the AP Top 25 college football poll, the Alabama Crimson Tide are a unanimous No. 1, receiving all 61 first-place votes. Clemson is No. 2, Notre Dame is No. 3, LSU is No. 4, and Michigan rounds out the top five.
Power Five teams and traditional powers such as Notre Dame dominate the rankings, but a few Group of Five programs have snuck into the Top 25 among the big boys.
Central Florida is No. 10, South Florida ranks No. 21 and Appalachian State checks in at 25th.
App State is ranked for the first time in school history. The Mountaineers joined the FBS in 2014 and have gone 42-15 since transitioning from the FCS.
Appalachian State is just the second team from the Sun Belt conference to be ranked — Troy in 2016 was the other.
These plucky contenders have earned the respect of pollsters, but should bettors wager on ranked Group of Five teams?
Using the Bet Labs database, we find that Top 25 teams outside of the Power Five conferences have not been profitable bets (ignoring independents such as Notre Dame and BYU).
Since 2005, Group of Five teams have gone 278-296-11 (48.4%) against the spread (ATS) when ranked in the regular season.
It gets worse if these ranked teams are favored: 242-266-9 (47.6%) ATS, -35.06 units. The lower in the polls, the more money the Group of Five teams have cost bettors:
Fringe Top 25 teams such as South Florida and App State have historically burned bettors. Recreational gamblers tend to bet ON ranked teams, regardless of overall talent and coaching.
Knowing the public is influenced by the polls, oddsmakers inflate the lines.
Contrarian gamblers can profit by fading Group of Five teams ranked from 15-25. The most profitable situation is to bet against low-ranked Group of Five teams when the line moves against them as favorites:
Bettors have gone 56-38-1 (59.6%) ATS since 2005 fading these teams when the line moves by one or more points against them as favorites. One team matches this week: Appalachian State.
The Mountaineers take their new ranking on the road in Week 9. App State opened as a 9.5-point favorite in Statesboro Thursday against Georgia Southern (7:30 p.m. ET).
More than 70% of spread tickets are on the No. 25 team in the country, but the line has moved from App State -9.5 to -8 (see live odds).
When the line moves against the betting percentages, this is called reverse line movement.
Reverse line movement is an indication of sharp action. The pros and history are against App State on Thursday.