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Is Home Field Advantage an Overrated Factor in College Football Betting?

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In our recently completed 7-part email series 7 Essential Tips for Betting on College Football, Go Sooners and I discuss in great length some of the Do’s and Don’ts to consider when wagering on college football road games.

We had contemplated a similar piece on how to bet on college football home games but didn’t have as much material on hand to work with.

However I thought I would toss out two ideas to keep in mind before placing a wager on the home side.

1. Home team lines are usually inflated. I believe this to be especially true with home favorites, particularly the traditional powers like Oklahoma, LSU, Oregon and even Boise State who have had exceptional home records in the recent past.

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In a study I recently read, Home Field Advantage – Stage 2, the author suggests that home field advantage is in fact real, but it isn’t as big a factor as most people make it out to be, especially for schools that play in those 80,000 to 100,000 seat “rocking behemoths that we love so much.”

The study points out that it was small, isolated stadiums that gave their teams the most boost on the scoreboard.

2. Home field advantage alone is NOT a good enough reason to wager on a team.

I find myself constantly being tempted by this scenario. You get a short line (2 or 3 points) and after you have capped the game you find that the majority of the numbers, angles, situations, etc indicate that these two teams are pretty even.

My train of thought at this point is that home field advantage alone is worth about 3 points – 3.500949 to be exact according to College Football By The Numbers. So why not wager the home team in this scenario?

However my past experience has demonstrated to me that this is not a good bet. So I did a little research at SportsDataBase.com and sure enough, wagering on home teams that are favored by 3.5 points or less is a negative EV (expected value) proposition.

Overall ATS: 850-918-44 = 48.08% (avg line: -2.4) **

2011 ATS: 29-32-0 = 47.54% (avg line: -2.7)

2010 ATS: 38-29-2 = 56.72% (avg line: -2.6)

2009 ATS: 22-30-2 = 42.31% (avg line: -2.4)

2008 ATS: 34-36-3 = 48.57% (avg line: -2.6)

2007 ATS: 33-43-2 = 43.42% (avg line: -2.6)

** 1980 thru 20111

In conclusion, home field advantage definitely exists in sports, especially in college football where 19 and 20 year old kids are playing an emotional game in massive stadiums in front of rabid fans. However as I have pointed out, the overall concept of home field advantage is probably overrated, and if you plan on wagering on a short home favorite, you better have a more compelling angle, edge or advantage than simply home field.

What other college football betting tips are important when considering a wager on the home team? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks.

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Get more great college football analysis over at Saturday Edge.