Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: View of the line of scrimmage between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide
- Conference championship games are some of the most heavily bet during the college football season.
- Using the Bet Labs database, 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.
Alabama, the No. 1 team in the nation, is a perfect 12-0 and is beating opponents by an average of 35 points per game. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh has five losses, including a 24-3 blowout loss to Miami Florida in the season finale.
These two teams enter conference championship games heading in opposite directions, but will that 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.
It’s better to have won than lost
Bad news for Pittsburgh, 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 Panthers, have gone 6-12 SU in Championship Week. Few expect the ACC title game to be competitive as Clemson is a 26.5-point favorite over Pittsburgh.
Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, UCF, Oklahoma and Boise State have each won at least five consecutive games. Does a long winning streak matter? No, such teams are 36-35 SU in title games.
That makes sense as conference title games often feature two quality opponents like this year’s SEC championship between Alabama and Georgia.
If you remove games in which both teams were on long winning streaks, teams that have won at least five straight games have gone 20-19 SU.
Clemson, Oklahoma, UCF and Boise State are favored against opponents that aren’t on long winning streaks. There is a chance a few of these teams get upset.
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 good bets.
If a team that didn’t cover plays one that did, betting the team that burned gamblers the previous week has gone 22-16-1 (58%) ATS. Five teams fit this trend:
- Northern Illinois (+3.5) vs. Buffalo (Friday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
- Utah (+5) vs. Washington (Friday, 8 p.m. ET, FOX)
- UAB (+1) vs. Middle Tennessee State (Saturday, 1:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN)
- Fresno State (+2.5) vs. Boise State (Saturday, 7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN)
- Northwestern (+14) vs. Ohio State (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, FOX)
Of course, we are dealing with a small sample, so bettors beware. If you want a more tried and true strategy: fade the public.