Bet Team with More Wins in Bowl Games

Bowl season is almost here and that means we will have a flurry of action and a lot of opportunities to make some money.  People come up will all kinds of ideas about which teams to bet and why.  Today, I am tackling a common one: betting on a bowl team with more wins than their opponent.

The premise here is that the team with more wins is likely to win their bowl game.  My biggest issue with this idea is that not all wins carry the same weight.  Team conferences are a major factor.  For example, eight wins in the SEC is not equal to eight wins in Conference USA.  Similarly, strength of schedule certainly matters when you are talking about a team’s wins.  If Team A played five Top 25 teams, and Team B only played one during the regular season, it is not hard to see that their wins are not equivalent.  I would also like to know if the losses were close or blowouts.  If a team is losing close games, especially to good opponents, some of their losses may be more valuable than some of their opponent’s wins.

Betting on Teams With More Wins in College Bowl Games

I took a look at every bowl game since 1980 in which one team had more wins that their opponent.  The results are fairly unspectacular against the spread (ATS):

  • Bowl Teams w/ More Wins Than Opponent:  318-320-11 (49.8% ATS)

Teams in this situation cover the spread less often than they do cover it.  With that being said, it might be useful to look at how many more wins the team has, rather than just lumping them all in together.

  • Exactly 1 More Win:  190-172 (52.5% ATS)
  • 2 More Wins: 76-87 (46.6% ATS)
  • 3+ More Wins:  52-61 (46.0% ATS)

There isn’t a ton of variance here, but teams tend to do worse against the spread the more wins they have than their opponents.  This is counter-intintive, but I would reason that oddsmakers recognize the potential for these types of teams to be wagered on heavily and adjust their lines accordingly.

Winning Betting System: Conferences to Bet on This Bowl Season

The major factor I mentioned above is conference.  As you will see in the results below, the conference the team is coming out of makes a tremendous difference in terms of if their greater number of wins means anything.  Here is the breakdown by conference:

Bowl Teams With More Wins Than Their Opponents by Conference

ConferenceATS WinsATS LossesATS Win %
SEC462862.16%
C-USA181456.25%
Independents211853.85%
MWC211952.50%
ACC333151.56%
WAC333250.77%
Big 12373650.68%
AAC7750.00%
Big East192147.50%
Big Ten263344.07%
Pac-12243342.11%
MAC192741.30%
Sun Belt5838.46%

Teams to Target This Bowl Season

From these results we can see that SEC wins are in fact more valuable than those in other conferences.  SEC teams with more wins than their opponents cover an impressive 62.16% of the time.  Conference USA teams may also be worth a look, but the smaller sample size doesn’t make them as appealing.  It also looks like teams out of the Pac-12 and MAC with more wins than their opponents should be bet against.  Here is a breakdown of who to bet based on this system this season.

Bet on SEC Teams

  • Texas Bowl – Play on Missouri -1.5 vs Texas

Bet Against Pac-12 Teams

  • Foster Farms Bowl – Purdue +3.5 vs Arizona

Bet Against MAC Teams

  • Quick Lane Bowl – Duke -4 vs Northern Illinois
  • Dollar General Bowl – Appalachian State +7.5 vs Toledo
  • Idaho Potato Bowl – Wyoming -1 vs Central Michigan