College Football Handicapping – Betting Off a Bye

In NCAA football, a bye week later in the season can be a real positive for teams looking to freshen up and make a final push towards year end goals and bowls.

Evaluating College Football Teams And Late Season Bye Weeks

As we move into late season college football, we continue to evaluate the adjustments and betting lines along with stats, match-ups, injury reports and motivation levels as some teams push for a bowl bid and conference title while others try to play through a losing or lost season. Some teams are super surgers and others are towel tossers. Injuries have an impact, as does the weather at this time of year, which must be evaluated more closely. Scoring and yards are up again this season, so the weather can have an impact down the stretch and teams also show some wear and tear while playing week after week.

Thus, a bye week later in the season can be a real positive for teams looking to freshen up and make a final push towards year end goals and bowls and also give them an edge against an opponent perhaps seen as better. This is also true in the big motivational rivalry games which highlight the November NCAA football schedule.

That was the case for Penn State this past Saturday at home in Happy Valley, as the Nittany Lions rose to the occasion and were rested and ready as a very big home 'Dog (+19.5). In front of a white-out crown of over 100,000 frenzied fans, Penn State delivered the knockout in the upset over No. 2 Ohio State, a big play winner for us.

So, I've outlined the bye schedule for the remainder of the season below and noted each team's opponent both before and after their bye week. In college football, a bye can be a real benefit to the rested and prepared team and especially later in the season. When playing at home, it becomes an even greater advantage.

In past seasons I've used a base situation favoring the home team off a bye with solid ATS success. In conference action, this becomes even stronger and especially in week 8 or later of the season. If the home team is coming off a win and/or playing with revenge from last season, the sub-set situation provides even greater strength for the home team to deliver a win and reward their betting backers.

This past weekend, big 'Dogs off a bye versus top-ranked teams delivered the money in the a pair of games with Oregon State (+37) at No. 5 Washington and No. 2 Ohio State at Penn State (+19). No. 5 Michigan was off a bye and rolled easily over Illinois 41-8, but could not cover the inflated line that steamed to -40 at kickoff. The other non-cover was a tough one for us and Texas A&M backers, as Texas A&M (+18) lost at Alabama, 33-14. I analyzed that game and match-up right here at OSGA, and unfortunately, A&M blew a second half lead and a key turnover and fumble return TD by Alabama turned the 'Tide and cost us in the Aggies defeat.

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Other teams that won and covered at home off a bye last week were Auburn, Kentucky, Cincinnati and SMU (+17), who pulled the shocker over Houston as a 23-point home puppy, North Texas also won outright as a big 17-point 'Dog off their bye at Army, and struggling UTEP won in overtime on the road as a double-digit 'Dog.

Overall last week, teams playing off a bye went 11-10 ATS with home teams off a bye 5-5 ATS. Many of these games had big and often inflated point spreads on the high-profile and ranked teams, as the bookmaker makes adjustments also based on public perception. So continue to evaluate the point spreads, match-ups and recognize the situations and motivation for teams as they play down the stretch.

This is another piece to add to your handicapping arsenal, but know that you still must evaluate the motivation, match-ups, injuries, statistical profiles and betting lines before you blindly bet on these rested and ready teams off a bye. The linemaker has made more adjustments in recent seasons to the bye week situation, but there is still good opportunities available when you factor in all the information above.

Teams playing Saturday, Oct. 29 off a bye include: (home teams in bold)

Tennessee, Arizona, USC, Baylor, Iowa State, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Notre Dame, Florida Atlantic, Southern Miss, Arkansas State. Also, the following six teams are also off a bye and play each other: Florida vs Georgia, Clemson at Florida State, Duke at Georgia Tech

Bye Team Conference Pre Bye Post Bye
Oct. 29 Alabama SEC Texas A&M at LSU
Arkansas SEC at Auburn Florida
LSU SEC Ole Miss Alabama
Vanderbilt SEC Tennessee at Auburn
Iowa Big Ten Wisconsin at Penn State
Rutgers Big Ten at Minnesota Indiana
Colorado Pac-12 at Stanford UCLA
UCLA Pac-12 Utah at Colorado
North Carolina ACC at Virginia Georgia Tech
Syracuse ACC at Boston College at Clemson
BYU Independent at Boise State at Cincinnati
Colorado State Mountain West at UNLV Fresno State
Nevada Mountain West Wyoming at New Mexico
No. Illinois MAC Buffalo Bowling Green
Charolotte Conference USA at Marshall at Southern Miss
Idaho Sun Belt at Appalachian State at UL Lafayette
UL Lafayette Sun Belt at Texas State Idaho
Texas State Sun Belt UL Lafayette at Appalachian St
Troy Sun Belt at South Alabama Massachusetts

Nov. 5 Arizona State Pac-12 at Oregon Utah
Utah Pac-12 Washington at Arizona State
Houston AAC UCF Tulane
Central Florida AAC at Houston Cincinnati
South Florida AAC Navy at Memphis
Tulane AAC SMU at Houston
UNLV Mountain West at San Jose State Wyoming
New Mexico State Sun Belt at Texas A&M at Arkansas State

Nov. 12 Kansas State Big 12 Oklahoma State at Baylor
TCU Big 12 at Baylor Oklahoma State
Massachusetts Independent at Troy at BYU
Connecticut AAC Temple at Boston College
Temple AAC at Connecticut at Tulane
Fresno State Mountain West at Colorado State Hawaii
San Jose State Mountain West at Boise State Air Force
Ball State MAC Eastern Michigan at Toledo
Ohio MAC Buffalo at Central Michigan
Eastern Michigan MAC at Ball State No. Illinois
Western Michigan MAC at Kent State Buffalo
Florida Int'l Conference USA at Western Kentucky Marshall
South Alabama Sun Belt at Louisiana Monroe at LSU

Nov. 19 Navy AAC Tulsa at SMU
East Carolina AAC SMU at Temple
Akron MAC Bowling Green at Ohio
Bowling Green MAC Kent State Buffalo
Kent State MAC at Bowling Green No. Illinois
Louisiana Tech Conference USA UT San Antonio at Southern Miss
Western Kentucky Conference USA North Texas at Marshall

Nov. 26 Oklahoma  Big 12 at West Virginia Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State Big 12 at TCU Oklahoma
Geogia State Sun Belt Georgia Southern at Idaho
Louisiana Monroe Sun Belt at Appalachian State UL Lafayette

FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay

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