College Football Betting

Have yourself a merry 3-sport parlay…

Friday, 25 December 2020 10:56 EST

Christmas football bettingOn first glance at the sports betting opportunities on Christmas Day 2020, bettors’d almost think that the schedule is purely a product of pandemic, but nope: The NBA on Christmas Day is yet another bit of David Stern’s legacy as commissioner, the squall of college football’s bowls started as usual in mid-December,  and Friday Afternoon Football, well … okay, the NFL would schedule primetime games seven nights a week if possible.

Not that we’re complaining, mind you: We’ve got some wacky recommendations from all three sports. NFLbets doesn’t usually recommend betting any serious amounts on non-NFL games, but the single football game on offer isn’t incredibly inspiring.

Minnesota Vikings +7 at New Orleans Saints, over/under 51 points

This line just looks too easy. In his well-publicized return, Drew Brees looked decent enough – particularly for a 40something with 11 broken ribs and all – and was helped along statistically by a Kansas City Chiefs defense that played slack in the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, the Saints took a second straight SU/ATS loss against KC and now most probably must win out to have any shot at a playoff bye week.

Speaking of playing slack, the Vikings officially played themselves out of playoff contention with a weak loss to the incredibly still relevant Chicago Bears with their second consecutive loss and third in five games. Said five-game stretch also included an overtime win after the Jacksonville Jaguars and has made for an 0-5 ATS record.

As if their tailspin weren’t enough, Minnesota will be facing a couple of serious mismatches. The Vikings offense has put up a middling amount of points this season and is in fact top-5 in yards gained, but Kirk Cousins & Co. have been a team of Santa Clauses, giving away the gift of turnovers all season long; the Saints defense – currently ranked no. 2 in defensive DVOA – could enjoy quite the merry Christmas, indeed.

But the real issue for Minnesota could come on special teams. The Vikings have been shockingly bad in this area this season, culminating in Cordarelle Patterson’s 104-yard kickoff return for the Bears on MNF and special teams coach Marwan Maalouf’s public dressing down at Mike Zimmer’s hands. Minnesota is currently dead last in both starting field position and opponents’ starting field position; they’re going up against a top-5 special teams unit on short rest, so not only should bettors be looking for special teams player proposition bets but also for the “Will Coach Zimmer’s Head Explode?” prop.

Again, though, NFLbets is not digging that +7 – too many possibilities for garbage time points, no pressure on the Vikings (well, except for maybe Maalouf’s guys). So we’re saying take the under on an O/u of 51 points. Overs have gone 9-5 in both Saints and Vikings games this year. With the former coming off a high-energy game against the Chiefs and the latter on a short week, we can’t imagine much scoreboard-spinning will be happening.

In college football betting, we’re going to take the Buffalo Bulls -5½ vs the Marshall Thundering Herd in the Camilla Bowl. The Bulls played an abbreviated schedule, torching five Metro Atlantic Conference opponents before losing to Ball State in the MAC championship; Marshall has twice had their season interrupted for Covid concerns and are backing into this Bowl with back-to-back SU/ATS losses.

The key for Buffalo is the state of Jaret Patterson, who left the final game with a knee injury. Patterson has been absolutely monstrous during the short schedule, with an incredible 1,072 yards and *19* touchdowns in the six games – that’s 178.0 yards and 3.33 TDs per game. Early Christmas morning reports say that Patterson will play, so the bet is clear.

Finally, among the slate of five NBA games, NFLbets believes the best bet is to take the Brooklyn Nets -3½ at the Boston Celtics. The Nets scored the biggest win of all the openers, topping the crushed Golden State Warriors by 26 points; there’s a reason Brooklyn went from 12/1 to 6/1 odds to win this year’s NBA title virtually overnight after the first appearances by Kevin Durant in the offseason hit the internet.

We believe the only reason this line is so low is the Celtics’ nice 1-point win over the Milwaukee Bucks with twin 30-plus point performances from Jalen Brown and Jason Tatum – a badass showing, to be sure, but these Nets may actually be better than the Bucks this season.

Good luck, and have yourselves a fruitful little Christmas…

–written by Os Davis

How to wager on the only proposition bet you’ll need for the 2019 college football season

Tuesday, 05 March 2019 13:28 EST

Betting on Clemson-Alabama againFrom a football betting perspective, you gotta love NCAA football. The BCS championship has become the most predictable in American sports, surpassing recent runs like the NBA's Warriors-Cavs or Warriors-anyone for that matter, not to mention Patriots-anyone in the NFL. And the college football playoff “tournament” has only assisted in helping out football bettors make money.

Take, for example, really the only proposition bet you’ll need this college football season: “To win the 2020 NCAA College Football Championship.” Here’s how the tables on this prop at two major sportsbooks look:


team sportsbook X odds sportsbook Y odds
Clemson Tigers +165 +230
Alabama Crimson Tide +200 +200


Aaaaand you can stop right there.

First off, under Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide have lost 15 games – including three to Auburn and two to Clemson – in 11 seasons while taking five national championships. And Nick Saban ain’t going anywhere.

Dabo Swinney, meanwhile, has been Clemson head coach for just 11 losses in the past seven seasons, got the Tigers to 15-0 in 2018 and may be considered the undisputed master of the college football playoff with a career record of 5-2. And Dabo Swinney ain’t going anywhere just yet, either.

Finally, just in case anyone’s forgetting, the last four national championships have been contested between these two.

So NFLbets feels that we don’t need to know about recruiting classes or even, apparently, the starting quarterbacks for these teams to exploit some advantageous lines here. If both teams again enjoy their customary dominant seasons, any underdog hoping to sneak in will have to get past both – and rarely these days do both Clemson and Alabama take a regular-season and a playoff loss each. Obviously, you’ll want to take Alabama and Clemson to win the 2020 College Football Championship in separate bets, and can certainly leverage the opportunity.

At sportsbook #2, the path to profit is simple. Covering Alabama at +200 and Clemson at +200 for, likesay, 100 Moneys (NFLbets’ preferred form of currency) each would net a profit of M100 if/when either takes the title.

At sportsbook #1, a little number-crunching seems to imply that the best bet would be to cover Auburn and Clemson at a ratio of 5:7. For example, covering Auburn for M50 and Clemson for M70 would net M95 or M135.50, respectively, in profit on a championship win.

But the best solution here is to shop around a bit and take advantage of the variance in offerings that still exists this far out from 2019 kickoff. Even in this small sample size, the enterprising football bettor can get both Tigers and ’Tide at 2/1 or better simultaneously – nice.

NFLbets usually doesn’t believe in making seriously wagers this far out from season’s beginning, but I this case, the odds on either Alabama or Clemson just might not get any better before their seemingly inevitable firth straight meeting in the championship game.

How do you say “Take the Hawai’I Rainbow Warriors -1” in Hawaiian?

Friday, 21 December 2018 11:13 EST

As NFL betting season slows in the final weeks of 2018 with a lot of meaningless/unplayable games, we get college bowl games to wager upon. However, the bowl season is one our favorite times of the football year to wager, as time allows just enough research to make things, as they say, interesting.

One of NFLbets’ perpetual favorites in the annual run of games is the Hawai’i Bowl, though we admit to some jealousy at these young whippersnappers getting to hang out in America’s most beautiful state and play football. We also insist that the name should be the Banana, Coconut or Pineapple Bowl (the latter of which was the 50th state’s bowl game for eight years in the 1940s and 50s). Come on, Idaho has the Potato Bowl and Arizona has the Cactus Bowl and – what’s that? The “Cheez-it” Bowl? Are you f*#&&@ing serious?

In any case, let’s talk

The Hawai’i BowlSaturday, December 22
Hawai’i -1 vs Louisiana Tech, over/under 61

The Hawai’i Bowl is traditionally a match of high-flying offensive attacks, and invites to this bowl are certainly geared that way, with a Mountain West team facing some high-scorer from the east. (Hey, compared to Hawai’i , everything is east.) Should the team not advance through the MWC into the Las Vegas Bowl or something similar, the home University of Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors are a default choice for this game. The ’Warriors are 4-3 SU in the 16-game Hawai’i Bowl history but haven’t appeared since ’10.

Did NFLbets say “high-scoring”? Check out these numbers: Ten of the 16 Hawai’i Bowls have seen 61 or more points scored – and last year’s score was Fresno State 33, Houston 27, for 60). All seven appearances in the Hawai’i Bowl have produced results of over 61. And the 2018 team is reminiscent of past Rainbow Warrior squads in the passing game, good for 321+ yards per game and the no. 9 ranking in ypg.

In fact, by Hawai’i Bowl standards, the 2018 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs are positively low watt: They’re averaging “just” 24.2 points per game. On the other hand, the Bulldogs do enjoy the passing game, averaging 246.8 ypg passing against a scanty 126.4 running; the latter ranks Tech 113th of 130 FBS teams in the stat.

Compounding the disadvantages for LTU is their current stumbling into the Bowl. The Bulldogs are 1-3 SU/ATS in their last four games; they’re 4-3 SU in away games but haven’t won as the visitor (which they essentially are in this game) since late October at Florida Atlantic. The only team with a winning record Tech has beaten this season are the North Texas Green Eagles, who recently got pummeled in the New Mexico Bowl.

Further, in four games against teams with winning records (LSU, North Texas, Mississippi State and Southern Miss), Louisiana Tech surrendered an average of 32.8 points per to teams averaging 31.8, 34.6, 29.1 and 26.2 respectively; the highest-ranked among these four offenses was UNT at 29th.

On top of this, Tech comes to Hawai’i not having traveled further west than Texas this season. Interestingly enough, travel didn’t seem to be a factor through the 2000s, but in the last five Hawai’i Bowls, the team traveling further west is 1-4 SU/ATS; teams from the Eastern time zone are 3-3 overall.

And yet, Hawai’i is just a 1-point favorite in this game, perhaps due to theirfour-game losing streak of October-November which destroyed a nice 6-1 mark to that point; in four games against western teams (at BYU, vs Nevada, at Fresno State, vs Utah State), the Warriors lost by an average of just under 29 points per game as the running game became next to non-existent. Freshman Miles Reed has steadily been picking up Dayton Furuta’s carries, and Hawai’i righted the ship (?) in winning their final two games by close margins.

So yes, that 1-point spread does make NFLbets a little nervous, but certainly not nervous to avoid betting the game. In fact, thanks to this line essentially making the Hawai’i Bowl a “pick ‘em”, the money line (ML) on Hawai’i may be had at 9/10 or 10/11 at some sportsbooks. NFLbets believes that the Warriors inherent advantages here will win them the game. We’re saying take Hawai’i -1 vs Louisiana Tech in the Hawai’i Bowl, and we’ll add the advice to take the over on an O/U of 61. Hopefully we can enjoy a nice romp.

Until next time, then, aloha!

NFLbets FBS bowl season betting record in 2018-19: 2-0-1.

Going bowling: Betting the Armed Forces Bowl (Army Black Knights -4½ vs Houston Cougars)

Thursday, 20 December 2018 17:47 EST

No more betting Thursday Night Football until next season? That’s somewhat unfortunate for NFLbets this year, but, let’s face it, relative lack of knowledge aside, betting on college football bowl games is about a zillion times more fun than ponying up cash to bet on TNF.

(For posterity’s sake, let the record read thusly: NFLbets’ record, Thursday Night Football Best Bets in 2018: 9-2-1, with both losing wagers placed on Carolina in the Panthers-Steelers game. For all the whinging yours truly does about betting TNF, we certainly had the gift this season.)

NFLbets does not at all advise betting every single college bowl game; that way lies madness (and a high losing percentage). However, the bowl season is one our favorite times of the football year to wager, as time allows just enough research to make things, as they say, interesting. Just don’t mortgage the Xmas presents to bet this stuff. Bet responsibly, and bet our choices in two bowls playing out this weekend.

The Armed Forces BowlSaturday, December 22
Army -4½ vs Houston, over/under 60½ points

The 2018 Armed Forces Bowl is an exemplar of what makes bowl games so fascinating for the football fan with above casual-level interest, a proverbial contrast of styles so utterly different as to make this game incredibly difficult to predict purely mathematically. Perhaps this is what accounts for the point spread and over/under line, completely contradictory as will soon be shown.

Houston brings a high-flying, quick-moving passing attack so representative of the American Athletic Conference and which runs up huge numbers. The Cougars offense generated some 529 yards per game (ranking no. 6 in the country among FBS teams), including 300.9 in passing ypg (good for 14th). This resulted in a whopping 46.4 points per game, fewer than only Oklahoma, Alabama and Utah State.

If you think Houston sounds like the college version of the Kansas City Chiefs or a poor man’s version of the Sooners, your instincts may be correct, right up to the, likesay, porous defense. The Cougars twice in 2018 put up 49 points and lost. This defense gave up 36 points to Navy, a team which otherwise averaged 20.9 per. It is upon gaudy statistics like these that the oddsmakers have created a scenario in which Army wins by a score of about 32-28.

Except that Army is good, very good. They’re even historically good, at least against the measure of the program’s history, in a couple of areas. Tops among these is time of possession: The deliberate and disciplined Army offense has held onto the ball for over 39 minutes per game – that’s some four minutes, or 11%, better than the next-best in the statistic – while turning the ball over just *seven times* in 12 games, second-best in college ball, and all while running the QB option offense.

This ball-control mastery has allowed the Black Knights to run up a 10-2 mark, including four Ws while scoring 28 or fewer. And, in case you think Army doesn’t face quality offenses as the rare independent college football team, check out their game 3 vs Hawaii and game 4 at Oklahoma, two matches against quality offenses. In the former, QB Kelvin Hopkins Jr. accounted for 272 yards of offense and two TDs while throwing just 10 passes in a 28-21 win.

In the following week’s 28-21 overtime loss to BCS Playoff tournament team Oklahoma, Hopkins Jr. was stifled, managing just 142 total yards and throwing two of his four interceptions of 2018 – yet the Sooners were held to their lowest point total of the season.

The conclusion seems pretty clear: If Army wins this game, they won’t need to score 32. If Houston wins, we’ll likely see more than 60 points in the Armed Forces Bowl. NFLbets believes that these Black Knights are special even beyond some incredible numbers – heck, they’re ranked no. 22 in the regular season ending AP poll. Take Army -4½ vs Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl and take the under on an O/U of 61½ points.

Hate the U.S. military-industrial complex, love the Army-Navy football

Saturday, 08 December 2018 07:53 EST

Army-Navy 1916This is probably a good place to put in the typical disclaimer. The opinions and attitudes expressed in this piece are solely those of the author, Os Davis, and do not reflect the views or philosophy of any member of the NFLbets staff or members of its affiliated partners’ staffs.

For a far-lefty like yours truly, the Army-Navy football game represents the ultimate in moral-ethical paradox. Concussions and the related CTE caused by football alone had turned its share of thinking people off to the game even before we get to scandals dogging seemingly every university football program in the country.

Bu those scandals, PED abuse and other wackiness that befalls other universities don’t touch the United States Military Academy’s Army Army-Navy 1924Black Knights or the U.S. Naval Academy’s Navy Midshipmen: These lads must maintain academic minimum standards and their schools are among the few with no need for illicit under-the-table bonuses. Army and Navy football players are disciplined, focused and certainly regularly drug tested.

Except ... well, these dudes as well as the boisterous and vociferous cadets filling the stands, kinda represent the biggest imperial army the world has ever seen. Upon leaving the football field, these young men will participate in the creation and maintenance of repressive states worldwide, becoming part of the daily problem of survival for greater percentages of the world’s population. And all in name of protecting the economic interests of the country’s 1% wealthiest – translated into popular parlance by news media as “defending our freedom.”

Army-Navy 1944So yeah, we’re appreciating the irony of enjoying with gusto the traditional Army-Navy football game.

But the Army-Navy football game is so much more than the American military-industrial complex’s favorite sporting event: Though simply an annual tradition along the lines of Harvard-Yale, Washington state’s Apple Bowl or Alabama’s famed Iron Bowl, Army-Navy nevertheless marks the literal kickoff of college bowl season – and betting on said bowl games.

As noted elsewhere on this site, NFLbets believes that sports bettors under the level of true college football expert should only bet on college football under one of three conditions:

• During bowl season;

• On regular-season games involving one’s alma mater, favorite team or local team, about which one has intimate
Army-Navy 1943knowledge; or

• One doesn’t mind throwing away money.

Bowl season is obviously NFLbets’ preferred time for betting on college football. In fact, we’re so geeked about the prospects of getting to see some future NFL stars, of enjoying the clashes of disparate styles, of crash-coursing into some knowledge about these teams, that we’re throwing caution to the wind with some crazy bets on the Army-Navy game. NFLbets will include our results in tallying up our mark during college football bowl season, but we don’t blame you for not getting on board with this one.

Army Black Knights vs Navy Midshipmen,
Army-Navy 1950over/under 40 points

NFLbets’ll handle the more defensible part of our nearly indefensible betting first: Take the over on the O/U of 40 points. Firstly, Army and Navy teams, like an NFL playoff side, tense to get more conservative in this game. Check out the results of the past four Army-Navy games – those in which Army was coached by Jeff Monken, current HC of the Black Knights – as compared to the season totals run up by these recently quite high-scoring teams:

• 2014: Navy, 17-10 (average during season: Navy, 32-25)
• 2015: Navy, 21-17 (Navy, 37-22)
• 2016: Army, 21-17 (Navy, 37-30)
• 2017: Army, 14-13 (Army 31-Navy 31)

Army-Navy 1967Expanding the scope back to 2009, when Ken Niumatalolo took over, we see these results in the traditional game:

• 2008: Navy, 24-0
• 2009: Navy, 17-3
• 2010: Navy, 31-17
• 2011: Navy, 27-21
• 2012: Navy, 17-13
• 2013: Navy, 34-7

These add up to the under going 6-4 in the last 10, including a 5-1 run.

So yeah, take the under.

Army Black Knights -7 vs Navy Midshipmen

Army-Navy 1979The above-listed Army-Navy game results should also indicate the close margin traditionally – even in the recent-term – in this game: Though the favorite is 9-1 SU, they’re just 4-6 ATS in the Niumatalolo Era, including a 1-5 run and an 0-4 mark since Monken came to West Point.

On top on this is the style which Monken has cultivated at Army, namely one highly concentrated on the running game, ball control and eating up clock. Army is no. 1 in the country in third-down conversion rate at 57.0%, no. 1 in time of possession at 39.2 minutes per game, and no. 2 in rushing yards at 303.1 per.

Luckily for the Midshipmen, in Army, Navy may finally have found an opponent whom they can play off. Though Navy is a dismal no. 11 in yards allowed per play, much of that naturally comes from passing plays in
Army-Navy 1980the pass-wacky American Conference – the AC includes UCF, Houston and Memphis, all of whom had offenses which averaged over *43½ points per game*. On the other hand, the 2017 Black Knights also came into this game as tops in third-down conversion and top-5 in TOP, yet the Midshipmen held Army to just three (of 11) conversions and 17 points fewer than their average output.

Ready to grind it out? Navy plays at nearly a deliberate pace as does Army: They’re ranked no. 5 in time of possession at 34.33 minutes per game and are ranked a stingy 16th in turnover differential at +8, including just eight fumbles lost and five interceptions thrown in 12 games. Remember that stuff about discipline?

In 2018, the Midshipmen may not be able to keep up
Army-Navy 1999with the American Conference’s high flyers, but we think they can hang with the Black Knights.

Note: The operative phrase there was “can hang with.” The truth is that Army is currently enjoying their finest football since the mid-1940s, no joke. Year 2017 saw West Point celebrate its first 10-win season since 1996. Should Army win either this game or the Armed Forces Bowl against recent Navy rival Houston, it would mark Army’s first-ever back-to-back 10-win seasons. If they win both, it would be the school’s first-ever 11-win season. And a top-20 finish (they’re currently at no. 22) would be Army’s first since 1958.

The point: This Army team is good and, as believers in the principle that talent usually wins out (again, the favorite in this game is on a 9-1 run SU), NFLbets is advising that bettors take the Army money line (ML)’ the odds are pretty crummy – we scored this line at 4/11 – but should be a good hedge, so scale up your bet on this, because we’re also saying to take Navy +7 vs Army and imagine how glorious that 20-19 Black Knights is going to be.

We are loving 2018 bowl season already, and the FBS Championship is still five weeks away!