As is the case with the NFL, college football futures betting opens shortly after the previous year’s champion has been crowned. There are nearly eight months off between the end of the college football season in early January and the start of the next campaign in late August. That means most of the year, the main way to bet on college football is through futures bets. Let’s take a look at some ways to make your futures bets winners.
Types of College Football Futures Bets
The most prevalent futures bets in college football are national championship bets. Everyone wants to see their team win it all, but unlike other sports, there are some teams that can be crossed off immediately. The College Football Playoff Selection Committee has shown time and time again that they will not consider Group of Five teams, so you can cross off roughly half the teams in the FBS. Although teams like UCF, Boise State, Houston, and Cincinnati have had some great years, none of those teams received any real consideration from the powerbrokers of the sport.
There are other types of futures bets available too. As the start of the season nears, you will find conference betting odds and division betting odds opening at various sportsbooks. These odds are particularly popular with teams in the power conferences, as regional supremacy matters more in this sport than others.
Additionally, sportsbooks will open Game of the Year odds. These highlight some of the biggest games of each college football season, and they are generally posted to see early action on rivalry games and big non-conference showdowns. You will find GOTY betting odds available starting in April or May.
Finally, there is Heisman Trophy betting. This is the only award for which there are futures odds available. Typically, you won’t find a lot of value in these odds, but it is interesting to note that the preseason favorite rarely wins these days. It’s almost a burden to be listed as the favorite that early, as it leads to absurd expectations from the media and fans.
How to Win Betting College Football Futures
When you are crunching the numbers in order to find value with national championship odds, it’s important to keep recruiting rankings in mind. You may have heard the saying, “It’s not about the X’s and the O’s, but the Jimmy’s and the Joe’s”, and that’s very true in college football.
Teams that don’t recruit at an elite level don’t win the national championship. Bud Elliott has referenced this when talking about the Blue-Chip Ratio, and it finds that teams must have 50 percent of their recruits be either four or five stars in order to actually claim a title. Although we have seen some teams make it to the College Football Playoff without passing the Blue-Chip Ratio, they have yet to win a game at that point.
Something else to keep in mind when making futures bets is a team’s strength of schedule. It’s much harder to win it all with a more difficult schedule seeing as how teams can typically only afford one loss in order to win the title. For instance, Auburn has significantly different futures odds from year to year largely because they host or travel to Alabama and LSU on the same rotation. In years where the Tigers have to go to Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge, they have much longer odds than when they host both teams.
Conferences have been better about protecting their top teams by spacing out their toughest games in recent seasons, but you will find some teams boxed into a corner with back-to-back difficult games too. Arkansas’ 2020 college football schedule is an example of that with the Razorbacks probably facing the toughest slate in modern college football history.
A team’s injury situation has a big impact on what to expect over the course of the season, as does depth at certain positions. One of the biggest indicators of success tends to be how many starters a team returns too. Experience is extremely important in college football, and senior-heavy teams can outplay more talented teams. In particular, an offensive line with a ton of career starts is extremely valuable.