College Football Betting Trends: 2020 Bowl Games

Ohio State Wins Sugar Bowl

College Football Betting Trends – Bowl Games: Bowl games are like snowflakes, no two are alike. Although, the Over has cashed at a much higher rate this year.

– Updated January 2nd

There are so many factors that go into handicapping a bowl game. Motivation, injuries, coaching changes, draft-eligible players sitting out, weather, travel, (most other seasons) home crowd advantage, etc. The 2020 bowl campaign is even harder to breakdown due to covid-19 restrictions preventing some teams from playing out a full season. Never the less, the sharpest of the sharpest, and the shmo-est of the joes get their money down on these games year after year in record numbers.

In recent years we’ve seen the trend of draft eligibles players opt-ing out of their post-season campaigns, in order to prevent injury. This will be even more prevalent headed into the second week of bowl games, as draft-eligible players may not want to risk what could be an injury or a covid-19 exposure. Due to this factor, while the ATS numbers seem to have the line-up changes baked into the lines, the same can’t exactly be said about the totals.

Now, a number of factors need to be weighed when betting on a college football bowl game total. Especially motivation. We’ve seen numerous times over the years, a game that is a blowout but staying under the total get out of hand and reach over the total when the second-stringers or seniors get into the game and the scores start to swell. What we’ve also seen is the market overreact to these types of situation, and games stay way under the total and staying close enough that the ‘blow out’ or ‘back door’ factor never ends up coming into play.

Key Bowl Betting Tip: There will be a number of games on the bowl schedule that on paper should easily go Under the total, but because of the ‘non-tangible’ factors, the market will push the number higher and higher towards the Over. The best way to avoid these uncertain circumstances, while holding on to a ton of value generated by the market’s reaction is to simply bet the 1H Total, rather than the full game. If a game should be lined at 58.5, but has been pushed to as high as 61.5 because of the ‘bowl game’ factor, you’re going to be able to get a few extra points betting that 1H Under, while having fewer variables involved while doing so. With that being said, let’s take a look at the 1H Unders in 2020.

2020 Bowl Games: 1H Totals

1H Over 1H Under 1H O/U
8/21 (38%) 12/21 (57%) 8-12-1

College Football Bowl Game Betting Trends

For the longest stretch of time in the early to late 2010’s, betting any bowl game under the total was a very risky proposition. We started seeing games with 40pt third and fourth quarters, and Under bettors were taking losses hand over fist. This trend seems to have been counteracted by more recent trends, whether it be the draft-eligible players sitting, or simply the ‘garbage time’ factor being baked into the line over time. Whatever it may be, the tide seemed to have shifted towards the Over in the ’40 bowl game’ era; however, in 2020 it seems as though the tide is shifting back towards the Over.

Since 2018 the Over has gone 50-48-2 in 100 Bowl Games, including two national championships. More recently, the Over is at 31-29-3 spanning from the start of the 2019 bowl season until now. It will be very interesting to see which direction this trend goes in this very unique 2020 bowl season. So far, the Over has hit in 13 of 21 bowl games in 2020. However, on a few occasions, the total has been pushed far beyond the opening number, only for the Under to cash easily. Whether or not this is a statistical anomaly or the market having a hard time adjusting remains to be seen over the course of the 2020 campaign.

Recent Bowl Game Betting Trends

Since 2020 Record Profit (Units)
Favorites ATS 12-9 (57%) +1.92u
Over 13-8 (62%) +3.83u

Recent Long Shot Bowl Game Upsets
From the start of 2018 until New Years Day 2021, we have had 100 bowl games played, the Underdog has won 34 of those 100 games, but on just 14 occasions has a 2-1 dog or higher cashed. Here are those 14 teams.

2020 Long Shot Upsets
Ohio State (+220) 49-28 over Clemson
Ball State (+256) 34-13 over San Jose State
Liberty (+210) 37-34 over Coastal Carolina
Hawaii (+230) 28-14 over Houston

2019 Long Shot Upsets
Kent State (+220) 51-41 over Utah State
Minnesota (+210) 31-24 over Auburn
Texas  (+210) over Utah 38-10
LA Tech (+205) 14-0 Over Miami
FAU (+205) 52-28 over SMU

2018 Long Shot Upsets
Texas (+405) 28-21 over Georgia
Oklahoma State (+285) 38-33 Over Missouri
Iowa (+235) 27-22 over Mississippi State
Northwestern (+220) 31-20 over Utah
FIU (+220) 35-32 over Toledo

Heisman Trophy Odds

Alabama 2021