College Football 2021 Ultimate Betting Guide & Strategies
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The college football season doesn’t simply “arrive” as much as it lives in the collective conscious of sports fans and bettors. It’s a year-long enterprise with recruiting, the transfer portal, coaching changes, conference shake-ups, rehashed rivalry games and, of course, college football futures betting.
Playoff odds for the following season go up as soon as the national championship ends. Same goes for Heisman Trophy futures and a few other markets. Watching those markets play out all offseason provides a general outline for the fall slate, the most-informed speculation and data-based predictions available until the games begin and the dominos begin to fall.
Real answers and results will begin to roll in soon. And we should be back to a mostly-normal game day experience for ticket holders and viewers across the country. That means disregarding certain strategies or tweaks that worked in 2020 but might not apply this season.
The top of the college football betting board is filled with the usual suspects – Alabama is favored to repeat at +250 on sports betting apps and betting sites, and we get an electric matchup right out of the gate with Clemson playing Georgia Week 1 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. The playoff implications start immediately, but we’re just as interested in betting the board every Saturday throughout what promises to be another incredible fall on the gridiron.
2022 College Football Title Odds
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College Football 2021 Betting Tips For the Season
Home, Sweet Home
We almost needed to treat every 2020 game like a bowl game. There was a ton of roster uncertainty, crowds were severely limited and almost every game had a unique set of circumstances.
This year should mark a return to normalcy. The stands will be packed, the bands will be loud, and the fans will be tuned up at every tailgate. Teams will need to adjust to the hostile environments again, dealing with the magnitude of home crowds at places like The Swamp, Death Valley and Beaver Stadium.
Those are known crowd factors. For betting purposes, we’re more concerned with teams that consistently beat college football spreads at home or away. We’ve already compiled a look at teams with the best cover percentages at home and the best cover percentages on the road over the past five years. Keep that in mind when weighing home-field advantage from week to week.
BIG TEN BETTING GUIDE: Check Out The Latest Odds, Tips & Picks In The Big Ten
The SEC and Big Ten rule the college football narrative from week to week. But successful bettors know the real value lies in the more low-key conferences. The lines aren’t quite as efficient in the MAC and the Mountain West because the handle is so much smaller.
For example, let’s look at the five best teams against the spread over the past five years.
Fresno State (63.6%), Eastern Michigan (63.2%), Temple (61.7%), Liberty (60.5%) and Buffalo (60.3%) have been cash cows for a while now, as bettors can be slow to catch on when these types of teams consistently get it done at sportsbooks.
Same goes for the bottom half with East Carolina (37.5%), Akron (37.5%), Arizona (35.9%, Connecticut (33.3%) and Bowling Green (30.2%). Something to keep in mind for Wildcats fans, who will be able to back their team for the first time when Arizona sports betting goes live on Sept. 9.
When looking for a team you can ride every week or fade all season, look beyond the Power Five conferences to find those hidden gems.
ACC BETTING GUIDE: Check Out The Latest Odds, Tips & Picks In The ACC
Slow and Steady Wins
There’s so much excitement when betting that first week of college football, it can be easy to get caught up in the hype and lose sight of strategy early in the year.
For example, Notre Dame was ranked 10th to start the 2020 season, behind teams like Oregon, Florida, Penn State and LSU. Few people were incredibly high on the Irish early in the year, but they reeled off win after win and proved to be a great futures bet to make the College Football Playoff.
As for the Heisman Trophy, Alabama’s DeVonta Smith was barely even on the betting radar early in the year. He was still available at a whopping +5000 on Nov. 30, with just two games remaining in the regular season. But other top contenders melted down the stretch and the dominos fell just right for Smith.
Just remember that it’s a long season and things never shake out exactly how they look on paper.
PAC-12 BETTING GUIDE: Check Out The Latest Odds, Tips & Picks In The Pac-12
Top NCAA Football 2021 Futures Bets
Here are a few of our favorite futures bets we’re jumping on before the 2021 season gets underway.
Oklahoma to Win the Big 12
Odds: -180 at DraftKings
We’ve been high on the Sooners ever since they finished 2020 with a 55-20 win over Florida in the Cotton Bowl. Starting quarterback Spencer Rattler is the Heisman Trophy favorite and Oklahoma should have an electric offense once again with three returning starters on the offensive line and a deep group at the skill positions.
BIG 12 BETTING GUIDE: Check Out The Latest Odds, Tips & Picks In The Big 12
The college football schedule is also very favorable with the Sooners getting Texas and Iowa State at home. And a defense that didn’t get enough credit in 2020 should be even better this season. We think these are good odds that won’t get any better in the early weeks as Oklahoma looks like a lock to start the season 5-0. We’re getting on Oklahoma to win the Big 12 now.
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Alabama -16.5 over Auburn
Odds: -110 at DraftKings
We always like to jump on a big game line or two. Last year at this time, for example, we got Alabama -2 over LSU for the Dec. 5 game in Death Valley. The line was Alabama -25 by the time kickoff rolled around.
This year we’re looking at Alabama in the Iron Bowl against an Auburn team with a new head coach, a brutal schedule and plenty of questions. The Tide dominated in a 42-13 win last year and we don’t see the Tigers keeping this one within three scores when they meet on Nov. 27.
SEC BETTING GUIDE: Check Out The Latest Odds, Tips & Picks In The SEC
Breece Hall to Win the Heisman Trophy
Odds: +4000 at PointsBet
We’re looking deep down the Heisman futures board these days. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow and Alabama wideout DeVonta Smith were barely on the radar and we’ve seen a ton of surprise candidates emerge in recent seasons.
Hall was sixth in Heisman voting last year and should put up some big numbers this season after tallying 1,572 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2020. If the Cyclones can compete for the conference title as expected and maybe even sneak into the CFP, we think Hall will be the star generating Heisman buzz down the stretch.
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Western Michigan to Win the MAC
Odds: +750 at BetMGM
If the Broncos can take a step up and capture the competitive West division, they’ll be poised for their first conference title since 2016.
Midweek “MACtion” is always a blast because this is an offense-first conference. Probably offense second and third as well, with defense usually an afterthought. And the Broncos should have as much firepower as anyone in the league with a bunch of returning talent from an offense that averaged 41.7 points per game and ranked fifth in the nation at 7.34 yards per play.
Defensively, the Broncos return all four starters in the secondary and have some talent in the front seven. They won’t win with defense, but they should have enough of it to let the offense take control and win a lot of ball games.
This will be a battle-tested team after nonconference matchups at Michigan and at Pittsburgh, and we think they’ll hang with Toledo and Ball State in the West to set up a spot in the title game.
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Key Dates For 2021 College Football Season
Marquee Week 1 Matchups
Sept. 4: Georgia vs. Clemson (ABC)
Sept. 4: Penn State at Wisconsin (FOX)
Sept. 4: Alabama at Miami (ABC)
Sept. 5: Notre Dame at Florida State (ABC)
Conference Championship Games
Dec. 3: Pac-12 Championship Game
Dec. 4: SEC Championship Game
Dec. 4: Big Ten Championship Game
Dec. 4: Big 12 Championship Game
Dec. 4: ACC Championship Game
College Football Playoff
Dec. 31: Cotton Bowl (Arlington, Texas)
Dec. 31: Orange Bowl (Miami Gardens, Fla.)
Jan. 10, 2022: National Championship (Indianapolis)