CFB Betting Tip: The Smart Way to Approach Ranked Teams in Week 2
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa
- Seven ranked college football teams started the season playing road or neutral-site games.
- Using Bet Labs, we analyze how top 25 teams perform in Week 2 home openers.
Alabama started the season away from home playing Duke in Atlanta. Auburn took on Oregon at AT&T Stadium in the only matchup of top 25 teams in Week 1. In a true road game, Georgia traveled to Nashville to play conference foe Vanderbilt.
In all, seven ranked teams began the 2019 college football season on the road or in a neutral-site game. Not counting the matchup of ranked teams, these programs went 5-0 straight up (SU) and 4-1 against the spread (ATS).
After a strong start to the season, casual bettors will jump on each of these teams … and why not? Following road games, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin will play their home openers this weekend.
Playing their second game of the season at home has its advantages — no travel and the support of fans. It is easy to see why the public would want to chase their wins in Week 1.
But ranked teams have not been good bets in Week 2 home openers. Since 2005, ranked teams that started the season on the road or played neutral-site games have gone 41-54-1 (43.2%) ATS in the first game back on campus according to Bet Labs.
Why have top 25 teams struggled in Week 2 home openers? My theory: Casual bettors overvalue ranked programs and home-field advantage.
Plus, oddsmakers are more likely to shade the lines for a top 25 team after a win, which is most of the teams in our sample since they still have their ranking following the first game of the season.
Fading ranked teams in Week 2 home openers has been a profitable strategy. Since 2005, gamblers betting against teams in this scenario have gone 54-41-1 (56.8%) ATS. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $955 following this tactic.
This is not a big sample and that is expected given our constraints, but the system has been a consistent winner over the years.
In addition, according to The Action Network’s college football power ratings these ranked teams have inflated lines in Week 2.
- Northern Illinois +22 at Utah (1 p.m. ET)
- Central Michigan +35 at Wisconsin (3:30 p.m. ET)
- Murray State +49 at Georgia (4 p.m. ET)
- New Mexico State +55 at Alabama (4 p.m. ET)
- Tennessee Martin +41 at Florida (7:30 p.m. ET)
- Tulane +18 at Auburn (7:30 p.m. ET)
- Nevada +23.5 at Oregon (7:30 p.m. ET)