High Profile Games vs Obscure Games in College Football
College football and the NFL are exactly the same right? Wrong. While the game is played in pretty much the same way, there are some notable differences that shouldn’t be overlooked. Understanding these differences is vital if you want to make the most out of the betting opportunities that college football presents. This becomes even more important if you’re used to betting on the NFL, as you’ll need to make significant adjustments to your approach.
We cover this thoroughly in our article comparing NFL handicapping to college football handicapping. One key takeaway from this article is that almost every single game in the NFL can be considered high profile. While some games have more coverage than others, none of them could be considered obscure.
Even the less popular teams have enough committed fans to help them stay relevant. Did you know that the league is actually structured to encourage some degree of equality among the teams? That’s why we doubt that any team will ever fall so far behind that no one cares about their games anymore.
College football has more than its fair share of high profile games too. A lot of the teams are extremely popular, especially those in the Power Five conferences. The top teams in those conferences have big followings, and their games almost always get a lot of attention. Not just locally, but on a national scale. The same is true for many other teams too.
On the other hand, there are many college football teams that get overlooked completely. They may get attention from their own school and from locals in their area, but that’s pretty much it. They have a chance of getting more publicity if they’re playing a more popular team or if they have any exceptional players. Besides that, they seem to be completely ignored by most football fans and, of course, by the media too.
Many college football games could easily be considered obscure, and the smaller conferences probably feature mostly obscure games. There just isn’t much interest in most of the teams in these conferences, apart from those who are directly involved with them.
When betting on college football, it’s important that you recognize the differences between high profile games and obscure games from a betting perspective. You can’t treat both types of games exactly the same. We’re not saying you have to choose just one type of game to focus on, but you must approach each type in the correct way. This article is designed to help you do just that.
We start by looking at the key differences between high profile games and obscure games. Then we look at the pros and cons of each type of game. We also offer some tips for betting on high profile games, and some tips for betting on obscure games.
The Key Differences
Let’s start by making one important point. High profile games and obscure games aren’t different in EVERY way. As a matter of fact, they’re not that different at all. What happens on the field isn’t really affected by whether a game is high profile or not. The only tangible difference that can have an effect on the way the game is played is that the crowds tend to be larger and more vocal for the higher profile games. This means that home field advantage tends to have slightly more weight. This shouldn’t have too big of an impact on the outcome of the game, however.
The differences are more about what happens OFF the field. Although these differences don’t have any kind of impact on the outcome of games or how they play out, they do have an impact on things from a betting perspective. This is why it’s important to be aware of them.
There are essentially three key differences that we need to consider. These are as follows.
- Media attention
- Bookmakers’ focus
- Betting action
It should be blindingly obvious that there’s a difference between the level of media attention that high profile games receive and the level that obscure games receive. The higher profile games always get more media attention. To what extent is this difference? Well, realize that some of the biggest college games get nation-wide media coverage.
Let’s compare that to the more obscure games that barely get featured in mainstream media. While they may get mentioned every once in a while, local media outlets are generally the only ones that cover them. This means that the amount of information available to us for research purposes is limited.
Less obvious, perhaps, is the fact that the bookmakers don’t pay as much attention to those obscure games. Most of them offer markets on these games, but they focus most of their attention on those higher profile games. This means tighter odds and lines for the higher profile games, and typically more betting opportunities too.
The third difference on our list is the main reason WHY the bookmakers tend to focus on the bigger games. There are significantly more people betting on these high profile games, so it makes perfect sense that the bookies will focus on them. They need to make sure they give their customers plenty of betting markets, and also that they don’t give away any value in their odds and lines. If they don’t keep things tight when there’s a lot of action, they stand to lose substantial sums of money.
Being aware of these three differences is the first step. Now, you need to know exactly how these areas will affect you as a bettor. Let’s take a look at the effects they have, in terms of the pros and cons they create for each type of game.
The Relative Pros & Cons
As we mentioned earlier, you don’t have to choose between betting on high profile games or betting on obscure games. There’s nothing wrong with betting on both. However, you should understand that the differences between the two types of games means there are some clear pros and cons when it comes to betting on them.
Let’s start with what the difference in media attention means for us.
- More information to work with
- EVERYONE has that information, including the bookmakers
- Less information to work with
- Better chance of finding value
- Less “noise” to contend with
The increased media attention for the bigger games gives us one clear advantage. We have more information to work with, and information is our livelihood when handicapping football. The more of it we have, the better our chances are of making informed predictions.
However, there’s a downside to this too. Because the information is so readily available for the big games, it all gets factored into the odds and lines. The bookmakers are aware of everything they need to know, and their customers will be betting based on the same information we have. This makes finding value in the betting markets extremely difficult. We have to really analyze the information in-depth in order to find angles that the bookmakers and other bettors haven’t considered.
When betting on obscure games, we’ll have to work a little bit harder to find the information that we need. This requires more time and effort, which is obviously a disadvantage. A positive here is that we’re more likely to uncover truly valuable information. If we know more than the bookmakers and the other bettors, then it will be easier to find value.
It’s also worth noting that high profile games generate a lot of noise. Although more information is generally a positive thing, it doesn’t help when some of that information is either irrelevant or conflicting. More media attention means more people expressing their opinions and their views. It’s very easy to get taken in by what the “experts” are saying, even when it’s not especially relevant or when it conflicts with the opinions we’ve already formed. We don’t have to deal with this when betting on obscure games.
Let’s move on to what the difference in the bookmakers’ focus means for us.
- More betting opportunities
- Tighter odds and lines
- Less betting opportunities
- Looser odds and lines
For the high profile games, bookmakers will typically offer a wider range of betting markets. They’ll almost certainly offer more props. Having a greater selection of wagers to choose from is a very good thing, as it means more opportunities for finding value. So there’s a clear advantage for betting on high profile games here.
However, with more focus on the high profile games the odds and lines are usually very tight. As with NFL games, the bookmakers know that they’re going to be taking a lot of money. So they pay extra close attention to how they set their odds and lines so that it’s very hard to find value. They’re going to make winning money extremely difficult for their customers.
With the more obscure games, the bookmakers are paying far less attention. They don’t just set their odds and lines at random, but they don’t put quite as much thought into them either. This gives us a much better chance of finding value after doing the necessary research and analysis.
Finally, let’s take a look at the pros and cons caused by differences in the volume of betting action.
- Weight of money can create value
- Value gets sucked up quickly
- Value is available for longer
Bookmakers always adjust their odds and lines based on the money they’re receiving. If they take a lot of money on a favorite, for example, then they’ll increase the spread and/or reduce the odds on that favorite. If they take a lot of money on the over, they’ll increase the totals line and/or reduce the odds on the over. By doing this, they will ultimately be limiting their exposure to excessive losses.
High profile games are known for attracting a lot of money from recreational bettors, who typically bet on the favorite and the over. To account for this, the bookmakers often have to significantly adjust their odds and lines. The spreads will get bigger, the totals lines will get higher and the odds will have to be modified as necessary. This often creates value on the other side, which is why betting the underdog and/or the under in these situations is often the best decision. The sheer weight of money means that they become more attractive propositions than they technically should be.
Obscure games don’t attract the same amount of action, so these scenarios don’t typically arise. That means when it comes to these types of games, we miss out on that potential betting opportunity. However, there’s a flipside to this. Weight of money can work against us too.
If we like the favorite or the over in a high profile game, but don’t get our money down fast enough, the odds and lines can move against us. Before we know it, the value will be gone. With obscure games, however, the odds and lines don’t move as drastically. Value is typically available for longer periods of time, which means we have a better chance of being able to take advantage of it.
We have hopefully made it clear that there are pros and cons to betting on high profile games and to betting on more obscure games. What we haven’t made clear is which type of game is the best from a betting perspective. This was intentional, and here’s why.
A lot of bettors focus almost all their attention on high profile games. Others prefer to spend their time handicapping obscure games. Either approach is just fine. Once you know the advantages and disadvantages that each type of game has to offer, it will be easier to decide which type is best suited to your specific betting style and strategy preferences.
Again, we’ll point out that making a decision may not be necessary at all. There’s no reason why you can’t bet on BOTH types of game. Want to know a little secret? That’s what we do, and it works out just fine for us. While we do favor more obscure games, since they tend to offer more value overall, we don’t ignore the opportunities that the high profile games present.
Regardless of whether you want to focus on one particular type of game or both, be sure to read the rest of this article. We’ve offered a few useful tips for betting on each type.
Tips for Betting High Profile Games
We have four tips to offer you for betting on high profile college football games. These are as follows.
- Look beyond the headlines
- Always factor in public opinion
- Bet favorites early and underdogs late
- Beware of rivalry games
Looking beyond the headlines is very important. The amount of information available for high profile games is insane. While you can expect that most of the information you come across will already be factored into the odds and lines, you can guarantee that any headline information will be. Injury reports are an excellent example. “Uncovering” this obvious piece of information won’t do you much good.
This means you need to analyze the quality of the relevant players and teams, and look closely at how they’ve been playing recently. Study playing styles, and think about how each team’s style might impact the way a game is likely to play out. Study the coaches’ tendencies and the kind of influence they might have. Basically, you need to consider anything and everything that can affect the outcome of the game. The more detail you go into, the more likely you are to make an accurate assessment of how the game is going to go.
Public opinion must also be factored in, for the reasons we outlined earlier. It has the potential to affect the odds and lines, and you need to know what the effects are likely to be. This makes it easier to determine whether there’s any value in the markets, and where that value might lie. If you know that the public is really behind one of the teams, for example, then you know that the weight of money is likely to be on that team. That doesn’t mean you can’t also back that same team, but we ask that you be cautious of strong line movements that diminish the remaining value.
Now here’s where our third tip comes into play; bet favorites early and underdogs late. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it’s certainly something to bear in mind. For a high profile college game, you can expect backing the favorite to get less and less attractive as kickoff gets closer. Since most of the money coming in will be on the favorite, the odds will gradually get lower and the spread will gradually get higher. If you want to back the favorite, get your money down early! When you’re backing the underdog, however, the opposite is true. The odds and lines are likely to move in your favor as the game gets closer, so waiting will usually mean better value for you.
Our fourth tip is very important. Every season there are several major rivalry games in college football. These types of games attract a lot of bettors, as they’re incredibly exciting games to watch. It’s hard to predict what’s going to happen in these games, seeing as how a lot of normal betting “rules” don’t apply. For this reason, they must be approached differently than regular high profile games. They can present excellent betting opportunities, so we wouldn’t recommend avoiding them completely. Check out the following article for more advice and information on the subject.
Tips for Betting Obscure Games
We have just two tips to offer for betting on obscure games. These are both pretty straightforward, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that obscure games are the easier ones to bet on. They’re not. We do prefer them, as we mentioned earlier, but they still present their fair share of challenges.
- Focus on just one or two “lesser” conferences
- Find useful resources
There are several so-called “lesser” conferences in college football. When you consider that there are several teams within each conference, that’s a lot of teams that will be playing in obscure games each season. It’s not realistic to think that you can study each team in enough detail to really get to know them. Knowing a team before you bet on them is crucial.
That is precisely why we suggest just focusing on one or two conferences. By narrowing your focus, it will be much easier to get to know all of the relevant teams involved. As long as you’re willing to put in the proper time and effort, becoming an expert on 10-20 teams is possible. This can give you a genuine advantage over the bookmakers when their games come around. Remember, the bookmakers don’t pay that much attention to these smaller teams. So as long as you do your homework, identifying clear value in their odds and lines becomes a very real possibility.
You can’t do your homework if you don’t know where to find valuable information though! This is where our second tip comes in. Finding useful resources for the high profile games is easy. As we mentioned earlier, they receive extensive media coverage. Finding the best resources for the obscure games is somewhat more difficult.
It’s not impossible though. Google is your friend here. Spend time looking through various websites in order to find reliable sources for news and other relevant information relating to the teams that you want to bet on. Ideally, you want to find dedicated fan websites or forums. These often provide real insight into the teams that you just can’t get from anywhere else.
We are about to reach the end of this article, but before we close we want to leave you with one final tip. This tip can be applied to both high profile games and obscure games alike.
We don’t mean to sound blunt, but you’re never going to make a profit if you bet on too many games. It doesn’t matter what strategies you employ, how much information you have at your disposal, or how good you are at interpreting that information. The key to successful college football betting is ultimately about identifying spots where you can make a genuinely informed judgment and take advantage of the value in the betting markets.
Please understand that it won’t be possible to identify dozens of those spots every week. It’s important to be selective. If you have any doubts about a wager, it’s always better to move on to the next opportunity. You might occasionally miss out on some profit that you could have made, but more often than not you’ll save yourself a loss. In the long run, it definitely pays to be patient.