There are arguably more popular college football betting strategies than there are for any other sport. There are people married to the Look-Ahead strategy where you bet against a team the week before they play their biggest rival, assuming they will overlook their opponent. So, you would potentially bet against both Ohio St. and Michigan the week before they play each other.
The opposite of that strategy could work too, the Letdown strategy, where you bet against teams the week after they play their top rival. One issue with that strategy is the college football schedule which puts many major rivalries as the last game of the regular season, like The Game, which Ohio St. vs. Michigan, or The Civil War, the battle of Oregon vs. Oregon St. This makes it particularly hard to even bet that theory, since those team’s next games might be a bowl matchup three weeks later.
There is a related NCAAF betting strategy that does work very well, and has zero scheduling issues, however. Let’s call it the Post-Upset Letdown strategy. The strategy calls for betting on a team that is coming off a major upset, and it really works for two reasons. In addition to the letdown factor, a major upset will inflate the next week’s spread, making it much harder for the team doing the upsetting to cover their next game.
Let’s look at some examples. One of the biggest upsets of the 2020 college football season happened when the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns went into Ames, Iowa and stunned the Iowa St. Hawkeyes 31-14. Louisiana entered the game as 13.5 point underdogs and in hindsight it was an incredible result, as Iowa St. won seven of their next games, beating both Oklahoma and Texas. So, what happened to Louisiana the next week after winning by 17 as a 13.5 ‘dog? The oddsmakers made them whopping 17.5 point favorites going to Georgia State, and they only won by 3, failing to cover by two touchdowns.
Arkansas State pulled off the other major upset of the early 2020 NCAAF season. The Red Wolves went into Kansas St. as 15.5 point underdogs and won outright, 35-31. So, what happened in Arkansas State’s next game? They were installed as 3.5 favorites against a good Coastal Carolina team, and lost 52-23. This was a classic letdown game, Arkansas St. even bounced back to top 50 points in their following two games.
In their first game of the 2020 season, Rutgers grabbed one of their biggest wins in years, going to Michigan State, and winning 38-27 as 9.5 point underdogs. What happened the next week? Rutgers went to Indiana and failed to cover, even as 11 point underdogs.
So, those are the biggest upsets of 2020 and the theory seems to work very well for them, but what about historically, can we see if the theory holds up?
The biggest non-conference upset of 2019 was The Citadel going into Georgia Tech as 26.5 point underdogs and beating the Yellow Jackets outright, in overtime. What happened to Citadel the following week? They won by only 9 at home in a game where they were favored by nearly double that number.
Sometimes the team that gets upset can do some upsetting over their own. A few weeks after Georgia Tech was stunned, they themselves pulled off one of the year’s biggest upsets, going to Miami and winning as 18 point underdogs. The following week Georgia Tech suffered their own letdown, failing to cover in a sluggish loss to Pitt.
In 2019, Missouri pulled off the incredible feat of losing twice as a massive favorite, once as a 17.5 favorite to Vandy after having lost as a 21 point favorite to Wyoming. Vandy suffered the typical letdown, failing to cover against South Carolina the following game. However, in the interest of full disclosure, Wyoming followed up their win over Mizzou by narrowly covering against Texas State. It’s important to list the losses because of course no strategy works 100% of the time.
What about the “Post Almost Upset Letdown,” does that work? The thinking is that teams will be so devastated after narrowly failing to get their best result of the season that a more typical game the following week will feel like a major let down.
Take Texas State as an example. They nearly stunned SMU as 24.5 point underdogs. The next week,they not only fail to cover, but they lose outright to UTSA at home. Two weeks later they almost spring another massive upset, losing by 3 to Boston College who was favored by 21.5 points. The next week? They lost at home to Troy by 20.
You should keep tracking the “Almost Letdown” theory while actively betting using the Post-Upset Letdown strategy. Remember, no strategy is ever perfect, or even close, but if you actively track the Post Upset-Letdown strategy you will see it pays off far more often that it fails.