College football and the NFL have many of the same rules, but that doesn’t mean betting game totals are the same in both sports. Here are some golden rules when thinking about college football betting lines for the coming season.
Inside Look at the Golden Rules for Betting Totals in College Football
Both the NFL and college football use 15-minute quarters, but NCAA games usually take much longer, meaning there’s more time to score. For example, there are many more replays in college football while in the NFL coaches have a limited number of reviews. In college, the clock is stopped for a little bit every time a team gets a first down. That doesn’t happen in the NFL. Over the past six years, the average NCAA game was 11 minutes longer as scoring, plays and television commercials have increased.
You will rarely see a total higher than the mid-50s in the NFL. That’s because the players are faster in that league and it evens things out. In college, you can sometimes see totals as high as 80 when it’s a huge mismatch between a high-powered, fast-paced offensive team like the University of Oregon against a really bad small-school opponent. While some NCAA teams have a huge edge in talent in their offensive or defensive schemes or in home-field advantage with massive crowd noise, that’s just not the case in the NFL. For the most part, the talent level is equal and the crowd isn’t as much as factor (except maybe in Seattle).
Consider Baylor. The Bears have been one of the fastest offenses in college football the past few years under former coach Art Briles — but they might not be quite as much so in 2016 since Briles was fired for off-field reasons. The Bears averaged a national-best 48.1 points per game last year. They scored at least 56 points six times. Most NFL games don’t even get as high as a total of what Baylor averaged. The Bears had the better athletes and better system than most of their opponents.
You are also likely to see varying totals in certain conferences. They will be higher in Pac-12 games because that conference produces the most scoring and plays per game in the country — a style Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott has called so entertaining that it’s trickled up to the NFL with more passing. There’s also nice weather for the vast majority of those Pac-12 games. The Big 12 also has become a much more offensive conference.
The SEC, meanwhile, is more about good defense — think of teams like Alabama or LSU or Florida. The Big Ten is more about controlling the ball with a running game — teams like Ohio State or Michigan State. And Big Ten schools play in cold weather later in the year, which keeps totals down.
Finally, college football total betting odds are less predictable than the NFL because the pro games on a whole are less predictable. You will see a lot more unusual plays — defensive touchdowns, trick plays, kickoff or punt returns for scores — in college than the pros. The NFL guys are paid professionals and focus only on football all week. College kids have limited coaching time and also might be less focused on football and more on girls or studies or finances, etc.