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There’s a lot of factors that go into handicapping college football. One of the most important is bye weeks. This article takes a closer look at how the extra time off impacts a teams’ ability to cover the spread.

There are a lot of similarities to NFL bye weeks in the college game. However, there is one big difference. In the NFL, teams only get 1 bye week for the entire season. There are a number of college teams who get more than one.

The purpose of this article was to find out if there was any edge to playing with an extra week of rest/preparation. I only looked at teams coming off a bye that were playing an opponent on regular rest. This would exclude all Week 1 games and any matchups where both teams were off a bye.

If you are like me and can’t wait for the 2017 season to get here, be sure to take some time to check out our NCAAF win totals and Week 1 betting odds.

Betting All College Football Teams Off Bye Week (Since 2007)

Home324-238 (57.7%)280-269-13 (51.0%)250-295-17 (45.9%)
Away212-379 (35.9%)289-272-17 (51.5%)260-283-5 (47.9%)
Home Favorite270-77 (77.8%)184-154-9 (54.4%)159-178-10 (47.2%)
Home Underdog50-158 (24%)92-112-4 (45.1%)87-114-7 (43.3%)
Away Favorite123-49 (71.5%)83-84-5 (49.7%)88-83 (51.5%)
Away Dog82-316 (20.6%)201-185-12 (52.1%)168-197-5 (46.0%)
Overall548-622 (46.8%)579-547-31 (51.4%)517-588-22 (46.8%)

Unlike the NFL, where there’s clearly an edge for teams off a bye, that’s not the case in NCAA Football. As you can see, the teams with an extra week to prepare and rest have covered at just a 51.4% clip. While it’s better than 50/50, it’s not enough that you can bet it blindly and expect a profit.

There is one scenario in which this appears to be profitable. That’s home favorites. They are hitting at a 54.4% rate since 2007. Just make sure you only take favorites. Home dogs are a miserable 45.1%, which means you could fade these teams blindly and show a profit long-term.

Closer Look at Home Favorites

7 or less61-50 (55%)48-60-3 (44.4%)48-62-1 (43.6%)
7.5-1465-20 (76.5%)49-35-1 (58.3%)37-45-3 (45.1%)
14.5-2169-6 (92%)39-35-1 (52.7%)34-36-5 (48.6%)
21+75-1 (98.7%)48-24-4 (66.7%)40-35-1 (53.3%)

We were able to do just that. Favorites of 7.5 to 14 have cashed 58.3% of the time, while big favorites of 21 or more are hitting at a 66.7% clip. The biggest takeaway from this, is to stay clear of small home favorites of 7-points or less.

Sweet Spot: Undefeated Home Favorites -8 or more

48-5 (90.6%)35-16-2 (68.6%)22-28-3 (44.0%)

I wanted to share with you a specific situation to look for that has profited big time over the years. The key is to look for home favorites off a bye who are listed as a favorite of 8-points or more. These teams are an impressive 35-16-2 (68.6%) against the spread.

Closer Look at Road Underdogs

4.5 or less51-48 (51.5%)59-38-2 (60.8%)50-46-2 (52.1%)
5-1453-161 (24.8%)100-110-4 (47.6%)91-118-2 (43.5%)
14.5-2111-90 (10.9%)52-47-2 (52.5%)48-48-1 (50%)
21+1-162 (0.6%)78-77-8 (50.3%)72-66-2 (52.2%)

In the previous section we learned that small home favorites are a bad option. They are just 48-60-3 (44.4%) against the number since 2007. When it comes to playing road teams, we want to focus on small underdogs. Teams that are listed as a dog of 4.5 or less are 59-38-2 (60.8%) against the spread.

NCAA Football Bye Weeks System: Conference Breakdown Over Last 3 Years

SEC16-18 (47.1%)18-15-1 (54.5%)12-22 (35.3%)
ACC21-16 (56.8%)23-14 (62.2%)10-26-1 (27.8%)
Big Ten24-25 (49.0%)26-22-1 (54.2%)28-21 (57.1%)
Pac-1210-9 (52.6%)9-10 (47.4%)6-13 (31.6%)
Big 1218-11 (62.1%)17-10-2 (63.0%)15-14 (51.7%)
American Athletic18-13 (58.1%)15-16 (48.4%)10-20-1 (33.3%)
Mountain West18-15 (54.5%)17-16 (51.5%)20-12-1 (62.5%)
MAC5-13 (27.8%)4-13-1 (23.5%)10-8 (55.6%)
C-USA19-18 (51.4%)19-17-1 (52.8%)18-18-1 (50.0%)
Sun Belt19-19 (50.0%)15-21-2 (41.7%)16-22 (42.1%)
Independents8-3 (72.7%)5-6 (45.5%)6-5 (54.5%)

The last thing I looked at is the overall numbers for each conference in the FBS.

Due to all the conference realignments that have taken place, I only looked at the results over the last 3 years. The results were interesting to say the least.

It turns out that there appears to be a much bigger advantage to bye weeks in the Power 5 conferences (SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12). The only one of the 5 that wasn’t profitable was the Pac-12. Though it also had the fewest number of games.