Conference Championship Betting Tip: How to Handicap College Football Momentum
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Memphis Tigers players
- Conference championship games are among the most heavily bet during the college football season.
- Using the Bet Labs, we find straight-up and against-the-spread trends that bettors need to know.
Starting Friday, 20 college football teams will compete for 10 conference championships. While each program has a chance to lift a trophy, not all are created equally.
Ohio State, the No. 1 team in the nation, is a perfect 12-0 and is beating opponents by an average of 38.1 points per game. Meanwhile, Miami (OH) has five losses, including a 41-27 blowout in its regular-season finale.
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These two teams enter conference championship games heading in the opposite directions, but will it impact the outcomes of their respective title games?
The tables below show how teams have performed straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) since 2005 based on their previous game performance per Bet Labs.
Bad news for Miami (OH) — teams that lost the game prior to their conference championship don’t have a history of bouncing back.
It is a small sample but programs that lost by 10 or more points, like the RedHawks, have gone 7-13 SU in Championship Week. Central Michigan has moved from -3 to -6.5 against Miami (OH) in the MAC title game.
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Ohio State, LSU, Clemson, Georgia, Utah, Memphis and UL Lafayette have each won at least five consecutive games. Does a long winning streak matter? No, such teams have gone 40-38 in championship games.
That makes sense as conference title games often feature two quality opponents like this year’s SEC championship between LSU and Georgia.
If you remove games in which both teams were on long winning streaks, teams that have won at least five straight games still haven’t had much of an advantage, going 23-21 SU.
Buy teams that didn’t cover
The most interesting trend above is that teams off a cover have been overvalued while teams that disappointed bettors the week before have been profitable.
If a team that didn’t cover plays one that did, betting the team that burned gamblers the previous week has gone 25-18-1 (58%) ATS. Five teams fit this trend:
- Oregon vs. Utah (Friday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC)
- UL Lafayette vs. App State (Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN)
- Miami (OH) vs. Central Michigan (Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
- Memphis vs. Cincinnati (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
- Boise State vs. Hawaii (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Of course, we are dealing with a small sample size. It would be wise to let this be the starting point of your conference championship handicapping.