This article is part of our College Football Picks series.
College Football Week 1 Betting Roundup
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Barking Dogs Featured Upsets in Week 1
The Duke Blue Devils, who had not defeated a Top-10 foe since 1989, pulled off the upset over No. 9 Clemson Tigers, sending my Week 1 betting record to an outstanding 9-3 ATS for 75% winning bets. I was on Duke, who, as 13-point underdogs, represented great betting value.
A total of 55.5 points and Clemson favored by 13 points implies a 34.25-21.25 Clemson win. However, my predictive models showed a high probability that Duke would score 27 or more points and average 6 or more yards per play. In past games in which Duke scored 27 or more points and averaged 6 or more YPP, they went on to a highly profitable 12-3 SU and 11-4 ATS for 73% winning bets over the past five seasons. If they score 27+ points and gain more YPP than their foe, the record goes to 16-2 SU and 15-3 ATS for 83% winning bets.
In my ACC Betting Preview, I detailed why FSU is the team to beat, and they got out of the gate with a big-time 45-24 win over the then-No.-5 ranked LSU Tigers. Florida State dominated LSU, outscoring them 31-7 in the second half after trailing 17-14 at the break. The North Carolina Tarheels are my dark horse, and they did not disappoint with a solid 31-17 win and an 11.5-point ATS cover over the South Carolina Gamecocks. Under the leadership of the legendary head coach Mack Brown and quarterback Drake Maye, who completed 24 of 32 passes for a 75% completion rate and 269 passing yards, and a 153.7 quarterback rating, the Tarheels will emerge as a roadblock to a potential Florida State ACC Championship.
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How Did Big Underdogs Perform in CFB Week 1?
To start, dogs went 11-83 straight-up (SU) and 49-44 ATS (53%) in Week 1 action. Of the 94 games played, there were 11 home dogs, who went 5-6 SU, 7-4 ATS (64%), and 5-6 Over-Under. Road dogs went just 5-73 SU, but 40-37-1 ATS (52%). Dogs of fewer than 10 points went 7-15 SU and 11-11 ATS. Double-digit underdogs went 4-68 SU, but 38-33-1 ATS (54%). So, overall, the market had priced the week 1 slate of games fairly based on the closing line.
There were four double-digit underdogs who won the game outright in Week 1 action.
Double-Digit Underdog Week 1 Winners
|Date||Week||Season||Team||Opp||Site||Final||Line||Total||SU Margin||ATS Margin||O-U Margin|
To add perspective to these results, the most double-digit favorites to win the game outright in Week 1 action since 1989 was nine, which occurred in 2016. The 2006 season marked the last week 1 action that did not see a double-digit underdog win outright. The point is that there are far more double-digit dogs that win the game outright than most realize, and I make it a point to search for these big-time dogs, especially ones of 17.5 or more points that are in the perfect storm to pull off the shocking upset.
Since 1989, there have been 322 dogs of 17.5 or more points that won the game outright. There were 26,627 games played since 1989, and 6,820 17.5 or greater underdogs representing 26% of all games played, and of these dogs, 4.72% of the 6,820 won the game outright. So, the odds are better than finding a needle in a haystack and significantly better than winning the power ball.
Since 1989, the most frequent occurrence for these upset-minded dogs has been between weeks 1 and 12, with Week 1 having the most with 34 games.
Double-Digit Underdog Winners by Week
|Games||ATS Margin||Avg Line||Avg Total||SU Margin||Week|
As the chart above shows, the average line has been between 20 and 24 points trimmed by frequency, with only week 15 averaging a line less than 20 points and an extremely small sample size of five games. The average totals for these games have been between 53 and 56 points, which is our first meaningful discovery to identify potential monumental upsets.
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College Football Betting Algorithm
Betting on underdogs of 17.5 or more points facing a ranked conference foe coming off their first loss of the season between weeks 1 and 12 has earned a solid 40-31-2 ATS mark for 56.3% winning bets since 1989. If our dog is on the road, their record improves to 34-22 ATS for 61% winning bets.
Now, our 17.5 or greater-point underdogs that won the game are coming off a game in which they lost straight-up by an average of 10 points and failed to cover the spread by an average of 3.51 points. So, this situation is one I look for during the game to bet on these dogs in-game.
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College Football Live Betting Strategy
So, dogs of 17.5 or more points that scored in the first quarter and are leading after the first quarter are 86-424-1 SU for 17% outright wins and 408-93 ATS-10 for 81% winning bets based on the closing line. Now, if our team is priced as a 20-point dog is leading after the first quarter, the live betting line is not going to be much more expensive than the closing line. For instance, if our dog is leading 7-3 after the first, the line may be reduced only to 19.5 points, reflecting the public's opinion that the big favorite will get their football act together and respond well over the remainder of the game. That is not the case, and many times, these big favorites begin to freeze up and make far more mental mistakes than usual.
Now, if our dog is winning 14-7, the live line may be adjusted lower to potentially 17.5 points but still representing excellent value, knowing that the average cover has been 12.3 points based on the closing line. Unless our dog is winning by double-digits after the first quarter, I will pass on the Live bet opportunity. However, I will look to get a line that matches the closing line during the second quarter of action.
College Football Best Bet for Week 2: Wisconsin Badgers -6 (BetMGM) over Washington State Cougars
Line: Wisconsin -6 (BetMGM) | Total:59 points (DraftKings)
This is a matchup between the Big Ten and PAC-12 in week 2 that will be televised nationally on ABC. Wisconsin got off to a low start in week 1 under new coach Luke Fickell before the offense took flight in a 38-17 win over the Buffalo Bulls. Wisconsin failed to cover the spread priced as 27.5-point home favorites. The Bulls trailed by only four points at the half but were outscored by 24-7 in the second half.
Wisconsin inexplicably lost 17-14 at home to Washington State in Week 3 priced as 17.5 point favorites, so revenge is a factor that will prevent them from overlooking them a second consecutive year. Washington State has played in a bowl game seven straight seasons and eight of the past nine. However, the coaching staff has its third different offensive and defensive coordinator in as many seasons. Despite the fact that they have former OC Ben Arbuckle, who developed the 8th-best offense in college football that averaged just under 500 yards per game, it takes time for any offense to learn a new system without any game experience.
On defense, the problem worsens for Washington State, having just five returning starters from a unit that allowed seven foes 20 or fewer points. So, it is not realistic to expect a rebuilding defense to have the potential to stop a Wisconsin air raid offense that returns 10 starters, including quarterback Tanner Mordecai, who passed for 72 touchdowns in his past two seasons. Wisconsin has three outstanding starting receivers (Chimere Dike, Bryson Green, and Will Pauling) and added 13 quality players from the transfer portal.
From my predictive models, expect Wisconsin to score 28 or more points and gain at least 6 yards per play in this game. In past road games, when they have met or exceeded these performance measures, it has led them to a 24-2 SU record and a 22-3-1 ATS mark since 2006. Since 2018, over the last five seasons, they have gone 8-0 SU and ATS.