College Football Betting Trend: Film Advantage Outweighs Game Experience in 2020 Season Openers

Credit:

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: Isaiah Graham-Mobley (8) and Ty Mason (15).

Historically, college football teams have had an edge in their season openers when facing an opponent that has already played at least one game. Betting those teams has hit at about a 55% clip coming into 2020.

Some may be surprised by those results, thinking teams would get a leg up by shaking some of the rust off and getting a game under their belt. That theory could have some validity, but the advantage of getting film on an opponent has historically outweighed any benefit game action has provided. High staff and roster turnover in college football makes it even more difficult to prepare for an opponent’s opening game of the season.

The 2020 College Football Season Has Defied Expectation

That trend notwithstanding, I originally came into this unprecedented season thinking that teams who get a game in before their opponent would have a much more significant advantage after shortened springs and summers than in normal seasons.

Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

So far this season, we have seen 28 teams play their season opener against a team that has already played at least one game. Those 28 teams playing their first game have gone a ridiculous 22-6 against the spread (ATS) for a gaudy clip of 78.6%.

Take a look at the staggering results:


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Even crazier, those teams have covered by an average of over nine points per game.

There’s obviously some noise in a sample set this small, but it’s clear that playing a game before an opponent isn’t providing any sort of advantage in this unique year.

Situational Betting Opportunities in Week 6

For Week 6, we have two examples of teams starting their season against teams they will have film on:

  • Houston -6.5 vs. Tulane (Thursday, Oct. 8 at 7:30 p.m. ET)
  • Temple -3.5 vs. Navy (Saturday, Oct. 10 at 6 p.m. ET)

Not only has Temple had plenty of time to prepare for Navy’s triple option, it now knows that Navy can actually throw the ball a bit with quarterback Dalen Morris, who should be back under center this weekend. Morris didn’t travel with the team last week to Air Force in order to avoid the extreme altitude due to an underlying medical condition.

Meanwhile, Houston has had time to prepare for Tulane and new freshman quarterback Michael Pratt, who provided quite an offensive spark after taking over for Keon Howard in Tulane’s last game against Southern Miss.

In contrast, neither Navy nor Tulane have tape on Temple or Houston in 2020.

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