The bigger they come, the harder they fall is not an expression that applies to Week 1 college football.
It turns out that the bigger the point spread, the harder it is for the underdog to cover the spread, according to the NCAA odds database at OddsShark.com.
“It’s a weird stat but it proved itself again in 2011 and should be a cautionary tale for bettors looking at North Texas and Hawaii this weekend,” OddsShark.com handicapping analyst Jack Randall said in an interview.
There were 26 games last year where the Week 1 point spread was 28 points or more (including many games involving FCS schools where only select sportsbooks offered betting). Favorites were just 14-12 ATS in those games.
But when the spread got really big – 39 points or greater – the favorites were 6-2 ATS, including Alabama’s win over Kent State as 39-point chalk. When the spread was smaller last year, the dogs were 10-8 ATS.
This week, North Texas is +43 at LSU, and the Warriors are +40 at USC. Those are the two biggest spreads in Vegas.
There are plenty others involving spreads of 20 points or more, including three teams that are favored by at least three touchdowns on the road.
“Central Florida lays 24 points at Akron, Tulane gets 21 points hosting Rutgers and UTEP is a whopping 31-point home dog against Oklahoma,” said Randall. “Big home underdogs have not performed very well in recent years generally and they were just 10-21 ATS last season.”
The problems experienced by underdogs do not extend to Bowling Green. The Falcons are 18-9 ATS in 27 games as a road underdog since 2006. And they are a big dog this week at Florida, getting 29 points currently at most shops.
Other Week 1 underdogs (lines courtesy of Odds Shark)
Buffalo +38 at Georgia
Texas State +36.5 at Houston
Arkansas State +35.5 at Oregon
Wyoming +29.5 at Texas
San Jose State +25.5 at Stanford
Bowling Green +29 at Florida
Marshall +24.5 at West Virginia
Miami (Ohio) +22.5 at Ohio State
Southern Miss +20 at Nebraska