Can we bet pro football and college football the same way?
An extremely easy answer to that headline. Absolutely NO, no way Jose, forget about it. We only could wish all questions in life were so simple to answer.
Unfortunately, so many bettors approach both NFL football and NCAA football with a similar mindset. It's a tragic mistake as both games have an entirely different set of rules and wagering customs. Making it even more difficult, all Nevada and top online sportsbooks have a proven system to assign odds, point spreads and totals for games in an entirely different manner. To think of them as equal is like saying fishing in New Jersey or Florida is the same. All one Atlantic Ocean.
College Football Logic and Illogic
The last few weeks of the college football season were a perfect example. Two weeks ago, according to industry leader on statistics StatFox, Alabama was listed as a -48 favorite over Tennessee-Chattanooga. A virtual warm-up game for their annual showdown the following week in the Iron Bowl against Auburn. There are no "-48 favorites" in the NFL. Nobody sits around, turning on the television in only the 4th quarter to see if their wager will cover in the pros. Alabama slept through the game resting many key starters in spots, winning easily 31-3 but also easily losing against the spread.
Another popular custom is playing a parlay within the same game in the NFL, especially on a singular game night as in Thursday, Sunday or Monday Night Football. Imagine if that was the case on September 24th when Alabama took on Kent St. in Tuscaloosa. The Tide were a -42 favorite at most preferred offshore sportsbooks with a mere 49 O/U Total. They won 48-0!!
The odds are 292M-1 to hit Powerball but I'd rather meet the guy who bet and cashed that Crimson Tide and Under parlay. Can't imagine an audience tuning in outside of Alabama to watch it, only bet on it. Not to say there aren't some good -42 plays in college football to consider. But perhaps only the Cleveland Browns or San Francisco 49ers would get more than 16 points on their worst day with no NFL Over/Under Total likely running over 56 points.
It's not Under till it's Over
Last week's Michigan-Ohio State game was not only a college football classic, but a textbook wagering classic as well. If you were on the wrong side, I apologize for bringing it up and feel for your pain. It reminded all how potentially dangerous the overtime rules of college football are where wagering interests are involved.
Ohio St. was a rigid -3.5 favorite at most leading offshore sportsbooks, including BetOnline, Bovada and Diamond Sports. They may have leaned toward -4 at kickoff time. The Total was 46.5 with the Over/Under perhaps tilted toward 47 at game time.
An incredible first half defensive struggle that ended with Michigan leading 10-7, it surely seemed a lock for your Under bet. All tickets were alive both sides for the spread but the way both defenses were playing a bettor felt confident of cashing their Under wager. However, this is College Football, which carries the school books compared to the NFL.
As if scripted, the regular game clock ended a 17-17 tie. Uh oh. In the NFL, we know the math we're facing and the simple rules ahead for overtime. Even worse in this situation was a -3.5 spread, making field goals, touchdowns and touchdowns without extra points an adventure. Not to mention, how many TOTAL POINTS could be added to erase that easy Under feeling.
Sure enough, trading touchdowns and extra points made it 24-24 after OT Number One and locked an OVER win for Totals bettors. Then the excitement began for whether either Ohio State or Michigan would cover. And who has the ball next on the 25-yard line? All this is not the way you might plan it betting the average Raiders-Chiefs game on a Sunday afternoon.
Luckily for Wolverine bettors, Michigan had to settle for a 37-yard field goal in Overtime #2 to put them ahead 27-24. Subsequently, RB Curtis Samuel of the Buckeyes danced 15 yards into the end zone next for the winning 30-27 score, insuring Ohio State a College Football Playoff spot. How many were waiting for the extra point, covering the 3.5? Surprise...too bad the Buckeyes didn't score first.
In the NFL, Safety & Safeties come First
The next day a very interesting play ended the Cincinnati Bengals-Baltimore Ravens game that DID NOT affect the point spread whatsoever. But IF it did, how many bettors would still be grieving today?
All major offshore sportsbooks had Baltimore a -3.5 favorite over Cincinnati. Bovada and BetOnline moved the game toward -4 before kickoff. The O/U Total on the game was 42. Leading 19-12 the Ravens had the game won and needed to punt at 4th and 12 from their own 20-yard line with :08 seconds left in regulation. Instead of risking some TD punt return, coach John Harbaugh wisely elected to have his punter dance around for eight seconds and walk backwards into the end zone for an intentionally safety to end the game.
The two-points counted toward ending the game with the final score 19-14. As I know it, it did not affect -4 point spreads, teasers or 46 Over/Under wagers. But if it had, I cannot imagine anyone involved getting any sleep. Many LED smart televisions may have been sacrificed with objects thrown through.
This kind of professional strategy and other customs are rarely employed in College Football. Along with more simplistic NFL overtime rules to affect outcome and wagering results. Whether you prefer one or the other is subjective and opinion oriented. Kind of like fishing for yellowtail snapper. If you're looking for it, I'd charter a boat off Key West in the Atlantic Ocean, not Atlantic City.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, inlcuding previews and picks from Glenn, click here.