College Football 2020 Ultimate Betting Guide & Strategies
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College football season has finally arrived. An unprecedented offseason saw leagues including the Big Ten and Pac-12 postpone the season, though they may still kick off later this fall or in the spring. Otherwise it’s full steam ahead for the SEC and other power conferences.
The LSU Tigers must replace Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow as it prepares to defend the national championship. The Clemson Tigers, who lost to LSU in the title game, begin the season No. 1 in the Associated Press poll while the Bayou Bengals open at No. 6.
Crowds will be limited or nonexistent for most games. Starters could be scratched at the last minute due to a positive COVID-19 test. Overall, there is more to consider than ever before from a college football betting perspective.
That’s why we’re looking at college football betting from all angles in 2020, providing strategies and tips for the fall football season along with futures bets, championship contenders to consider and much more.
5 College Football 2020 Betting Tips for the Season
Every Game is a Bowl Game
All right, that’s not exactly true. But bettors will need to treat every game like a bowl game to have an informed wagering opinion. Bowl games include outside factors one doesn’t normally consider during the regular season. Things like NFL-bound players sitting out and how teams will perform in a neutral environment.
Several top college football players, including Georgia quarterback Jamie Newman, have already chosen to opt out of the season due to coronavirus concerns. More could follow. So, bettors will need to stay on top of the depth charts even more than usual and make sure to know which players are suiting up.
Players could also be forced to sit out if they test positive for coronavirus before a game. This could have a huge impact on late line movement and will be something to monitor each week throughout the season.
College football crowds have perhaps a bigger impact on the outcome than any other sport. From the raucous student sections to marching bands and decades-long animosity among fan bases, environment can make all the difference, especially in conference games.
This year will look and sound a lot different. College football fans will be allowed to attend games in some capacity, but it’s safe to say we won’t see massive crowds and noise levels will be far, far lower than normal.
The immediate impact here could be the over/under. Jam-packed bleachers in places like Death Valley and Gainesville can make it really tough on opposing offenses in the red zone. Communication is far more difficult. And you get more players jumping offsides when they can’t hear the snap count.
This year, games should be played in more muted environments. Road teams should be able to stay better composed on offense as a result. And kickers won’t have to deal with the pressure or distractions of thousands of students waving signs and jumping around in the background.
We’re thinking the over will be a strong play in the early weeks as a result, as offenses don’t have to deal with all the noise.
LSU embraced the “offense wins championships” moniker with one of the most electrifying seasons in college football history in 2019. The Tigers led the nation with 568.5 yards per game, nearly 30 yards more than any other team.
The College Football Playoff field was certainly all about scoring. Each of the final four teams – LSU, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma – finished the season top-5 in total offense. Bettors that identify elite offenses early in the year should do well on futures bets.
But on a week-to-week basis, bettors might want to look closer at the other side of the ball. Because the top-10 defensive teams in 2019 covered at an elite rate.
Teams that finished the season top-10 in total defense went a combined 85-51-1 against the spread, cashing in at a 62.4% clip. All 10 teams had a winning record against the spread and were at least two games over .500 against the spread.
Teams like Utah (9-5 ATS), and Minnesota (8-4-1 ATS) may have missed out on the CFP, but they covered like champions all season.
Betting the top-10 offensive teams every game would have been profitable as well, by a significantly smaller margin. Teams that finished top-10 in total offense were a combined 76-62 against the spread (55%).
While all top-10 defensive teams were profitable, that wasn’t the case on offense. Teams like Washington State (4-9 ATS) and Oklahoma (5-9 ATS) put up a ton of points but consistently failed to cover.
Elite defensive teams were undervalued throughout the 2019 season. Identifying the top defensive units early, especially for off-the-radar teams, will prove highly beneficial for college football bettors.
Top NCAA Football 2020 Futures Bets
As bookmakers and college football fans adapt to the new reality, there are only limited college football futures odds available. It’s not clear what a bowl schedule or playoff would even look like. Still, there are a few bets you can jump on now.
Georgia to Win the SEC (+300)
We like the Bulldogs’ chances even with expected starting quarterback Jamie Newman sitting out. USC transfer JT Daniels has starting experience, at least, and they still have playmakers on offense. The Bulldogs should have the best defense in the country and return almost every starter from a unit that finished third in the nation in total defense. Georgia should be the class of the East division and return to the conference championship game. Joe Burrow won’t be there to spoil the title chances this time. Check out the best SEC championship odds at DraftKings.
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Oklahoma State to Win the Big 12 (+900)
There appears to be some value on the Cowboys here. First-team All-American running back Chubba Hubbard returns and Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year Spencer Sanders will be under center. The defense returns 10 starters from last year and the Cowboys figure to be very competitive in any conference game. This is going to be an unusual season, so you might as well look for some value picks with conference championship futures. Find the best Oklahoma State conference odds at FOX Bet.
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Clemson to Win the ACC (-350)
While there might be value in other conferences, we’re going chalk in the ACC. Clemson has won the league five years in a row. This year’s addition of Notre Dame (+500) won’t be enough to dethrone the Tigers. Not with Trevor Lawrence returning to a highly motivated group coming off last year’s national championship loss. We don’t expect to see these odds go any longer once the season starts. Get the best Clemson conference championship odds at BetMGM.
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Alabama -2 Over LSU
Looking at early point spreads on marquee games, we like the Crimson Tide to avenge last year’s home loss to LSU and return the favor in Death Valley. LSU won’t have anything close to its usual home field advantage and has to make big replacements on offense. The Tigers also lost offensive guru and play caller Joe Brady to the Carolina Panthers. Alabama returns quarterback Mac Jones, who stepped in midseason and showed promise with a 350-plus yard, four-touchdown showing in a loss at Auburn. The Crimson Tide also bring in the nation’s top quarterback recruit in Bryce Young, who could compete for time. Alabama looks loaded again on offense and should get a revenge cover against the Tigers. Get the best Alabama-LSU point spread odds at PointsBet.
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What Kind Of College Football 2020 Bets Can I Make?
You can expect these kinds of college football odds on every game day.
Moneyline: Moneyline bets mean wagering that a team will win the game. It’s that simple. No point spread or anything. The risk/reward fluctuates based on the matchup. For example, LSU moneyline could be -240 against Auburn – that means a player risks $240 to win $100 if LSU wins the game by any margin.
Point Spread: Point spreads handicap college football games to create equal wagering on both sides. Let’s say Florida State is a 7.5-point favorite over Georgia Tech. If you make a point spread bet on Florida State, you’re wagering the Seminoles will win by at least eight points. A bet on Georgia Tech means you’re wagering it won’t lose by more than eight points. If Florida State wins the game 35-28, Georgia Tech bettors would win their wagers on the +7.5 point spread.
Totals (Over/Under): Totals are bets on the combined number of points scored in the game. The winning team is irrelevant. Let’s say the total for the Florida-North Carolina game is 48. Bettors then wager on whether the combined score will be more or less than 48. It doesn’t matter if North Carolina wins the game 28-21 or 49-0. The over would hit in either scenario.
Prop bets: Sportsbooks offer a ton of college football prop bets throughout the season. You can bet player props on things like whether Auburn quarterback Bo Nix will throw over/under 2.5 touchdowns or go over/under 78 rushing yards in a given game. There are also game props like whether or not there will be a special teams touchdown or the teams will combine for more or less than 3.5 made field goals.
Parlay betting: Parlays are a series of bets packaged together for a bigger potential payout. Let’s say you want to be Alabama -2, Notre Dame +3.5 and Oklahoma -220 moneyline on a given Saturday. You could place three individual wagers. Or you could parlay all three for a potentially bigger payout. The key is that all three bets have to hit. If Alabama and Notre Dame cover but Oklahoma loses outright, that parlay would go bust.
Typically, you can expect these kinds of NCAA football futures before and during the season, though given the unique nature of 2020, not all markets will be available.
Team wins: Typically, bettors can wager on over/under team win totals. If Ole Miss’ team win total was 7.5, you can bet whether they will win more or less than seven games that season. These may not be available early in the season due to the uncertain scheduling in 2020.
Conference: Bettors can get action on which team they believe will win the conference championship throughout the season, with odds adjusting each week. Alabama, for example, began the season with -143 odds to win the SEC. That means a bettor can risk $143 to win $100 if Alabama wins the SEC title game. Georgia is +300, meaning a bettor can risk $100 to win $300 if Georgia wins the conference.
National Championship: Same idea as conference betting here – National Championship odds are listed for each team and updated from week-to-week throughout the season. Again, these odds will be harder to come by so far in 2020 with leagues such as the Big Ten and Pac 12 postponing the starts of their season.
Season Player Props: These are wagers in which bettors can predict season-long stat totals for individual college football players. It could be anything from over/under 3,700 Trevor Lawrence passing yards to over/under 20 Chubba Hubbard rushing touchdowns.
College Football 2020 FAQs
Will there be fans at college football games in 2020?
This will vary from school to school and could change on a weekly basis. Some schools have already announced they won’t allow fans for the first game, while others like Tennessee and Texas A&M will operate stadiums at 25% capacity and allow around 25,000 fans.
Can I bet on the 2020 college football season?
Yes. While some leagues and teams have postponed or decided not to play in 2020, point spread, moneyline, total and future bets will be widely available throughout the season on all competing teams.
Will there be a College Football Playoff this season?
Yes. The College Football Playoff will go on as scheduled with teams and conferences that choose to play the 2020 season. Semifinal games will take place Jan. 1, 2021 at the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl. The National Championship is set for Jan. 11, 2021 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Will there be college bowl games in 2020?
It appears most bowl games will be played in some form this year. But with so many teams sitting out, including major conferences such as the Big Ten and Pac 12, things will certainly look different. Many bowls will have to scrap longstanding conference affiliations. And the NCAA may need to do away with bowl eligibility altogether and include teams with four or fewer wins.