Bettors Beware: College Football Preseason Rankings

Date | AuthorDave Essler


Last Updated: 2017-08-30

It’s been my experience that bettors pay too much attention to the polls, both preseason and during the season. To be fair, often times the sportsbooks do as well and the last thing we want is to use the same information they do. Remember, we are looking for things they don’t take into account as often as possible because that’s where we’ll find our edge.

For example, only the left is the 2015 final AP CFB poll, an on the right is the preseason poll. I uses 2015 because last year the AP and the Coaches polls were close, for the most part. That’s the exception rather than the rule.

As you can see before the season started there were no less than six teams in the Top 10 that at seasons’ end were nowhere to be found. What that also means is that there were six teams in the final poll that the pundits didn’t expect to be there. That tell us three things. First, there were six teams that better probably lost money on (the ones that weren’t there in the end. Secondly, there were six teams sharp bettors found early and had tremendous value with until the books caught up. Lastly, an perhaps most importantly, the pundits do not know enough to be basing betting information on. That goes for before and during the season. Remember, they get paid for an opinion, and often times they are justifying their opinions with information and highlights that are the same ones you and I see.

The lines are out for this years’ first week at some online sportsbooks as well as many Vegas shops, so the time to find the value is now. For me, there’s a classic error already. The Week One game in AT & T Stadium between Michigan and Florida jumped out as one. People remember what they saw last, and that was a Michigan team that many think should have beaten Ohio State and should have beaten FSU in the Orange Bowl. But, they’re first loss was more telling. They were beaten by Iowa, a team with a marginal offense and a great defense. Well, that’s certainly been the hallmark of the Gators the last few seasons.

It was that same Florida team that destroyed Iowa in the Outback Bowl, and that was the same Iowa team that beat Michigan. Yes, it’s a new year, but it’s also been my experience that unless teams lose an elite quarterback, they don’t change as dramatically from year-to-year as people think. Add that to the fact that some early polls have Michigan ranked 7-8 spots higher than Florida, so I see where they get that line, which sitting at +4.5 many places, may well have the wrong team favored.

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