NCAA Giants vs Dwarfs – Who Covers More Often

It happens every fall. When the college football games kick off the first week of September there are a few heavyweight contests played at neutral sites. This year you have LSU/Wisconsin (Lambeau Field), USC/Alabama (AT&T Stadium), Ole Miss/Florida St. (Citrus Bowl) and a few other home and home series that were scheduled a decade ago. For the most part you have a whole lot of games that you would only watch if you were a fan of the teams or have action on the game. The early season schedule resembles a non stop parade of David vs Goliath matchups. When it comes to the five major conferences (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12, and SEC) most of them have 9 conference games and their other 3 games will be full of cupcakes. Even though the new playoff format makes non conference strength of schedule worth more than ever, the scheduling hasn’t caught up to the current times as of yet. There are many reasons for these early mismatches. The most important reason is the NCAA doesn’t put a cap on the amount of home games you have to play in a season. In major conferences you are required to play 4 conference road games per season. For a lot of teams this means 8 home games per season and 4 or 5 of those home games will be played against conference opponents that are scheduled for them. For those other 4 home games it’s all up to the athletic department and who they want to schedule. Most get on the phone and schedule million dollar cupcakes. They pay lesser FBS schools or even lower division FCS schools a large sum of money to go on the road to get their teeth kicked in. The major conference school gets a free win and the lesser school gets a ton of money to help keep their athletic department afloat. Even though these games won’t be on national tv the big schools don’t care. They split tv money equally with their other conference members no matter what and selling out the stadium and staying undefeated as long as possible is the ultimate goal. For the smaller school, getting crushed is a small price to pay for a million dollar check that can pay for a third of the athletic budget for that full school year. The question is are these small schools also getting crushed when it comes to betting? We’ve noticed the past few seasons when a big time program is favored by 4 or more touchdowns, more times than not they don’t cover. Of course there are always going to be easy covers for the favorites, like Oklahoma St crushing Savannah St 84-0 in 2012 or more recently Georgia Tech rolling up Alcorn St and Tulane 69-6 and 65-10 respectively at home last year. But more and more we were realizing that the major conference schools were not covering these outrageous early season spreads vs non major conference schools. When we dug deeper our suspicions proved true. When it comes to the betting, the dogs were cashing in at a higher rate than the favorites. In the last 4 years the favorites in the 5 major conferences have only covered 46% of the time when favored by 28+ points against a non major conference foe. We took our research back 4 years since the way college football is played changes drastically every few years. Here are the ATS records the last 4 years for major conference schools favored by 28 points or more against non major conference schools. ACC [table “” not found /]
BIG 10 [table “” not found /]
BIG 12 [table “” not found /]
PAC 12 [table “” not found /]
SEC [table “” not found /]
[table “” not found /]

  • Only 18 of the 64 schools have a winning record and 7 of those are in The ACC.
  • The ACC had by far the best win percentage (60 percent) while none of the other 4 conferences had a higher percentage than 45%.
  • If you take the ACC out of the equation, the other 4 conferences have a winning percentage of only 42%.
  • The 3 teams that bucked this trend the most were Georgia Tech at 5-1 (83%) thanks to their punishing option offense that smaller schools can’t handle, Florida St. 6-2 (75%) with a big help from going 3-0 during their National Championship season and Baylor 7-3 (70%) thanks to putting up video game passing numbers in 2013 and 2014.
  • The last 2 national champs (Alabama and Ohio St.) and the runner up from 2 years ago (Oregon) were a combined 5-23
  • The Big Ten conference had only 1 team with a winning record, Illinois at 1-0
  • Only 4 times did a conference have a winning record for the season. The ACC in 2013 and 2015. The SEC in 2014 and The Pac 12 in 2013.
  • What was most shocking about all of this was just how bad the SEC did in these situations. No one will argue the SEC is by far the best conference top to bottom. For some reason when the opponent is overmatched the SEC coaches lay of the gas early and coast to victory. Especially Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide who have gone 1-11 against non conference foes while going 4-1 against conference foes while favored by 28 or more the last 4 years.

Here are the games in week 1 that so far has 28+ point spreads [table “” not found /]
So before you think these 6 games are going to be cake walks and you’re going to start the season with some easy wins remember, all 6 of these teams will win but chances are at least 3 and most likely 4 of them won’t cover.