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College Football Time of Possession Betting System

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Updated August 03, 2012

College Football Time of Possession Betting System

Time of possession is one of the uncharted areas when it comes to handicapping college or pro football in my opinion. Very little has been written about time of possession and it's one area I believe sports bettors can gain an edge by studying.

It's somewhat common knowledge that in the NFL the team with the greatest time of possession in a game will cover the point spread roughly 63% of the time and if a team has a time of possession margin of 10 minutes or more, that number will increase to nearly 73%.

You could look at that and simply wager on the team you believe is going to have the ball more than their opponent, although that's probably over-simplifying things and will put you on every team with a solid rushing game, regardless of their ability to pass or how adept the defense is at stopping the rush.

Coaches love time of possession almost as much as they hate turnovers and penalties. A large time of possession advantage usually signifies that things are working well on the offensive side of the ball and that the team is either ahead in the game, or close enough where they don't have to employ some sort of no-huddle offense to play catch-up.

Large Time of Possession Margins

Since a large advantage in time of possession usually signifies things are working well offensively and college football teams tend to see either good or bad performances carry over to the following week more than the professional ranks, in theory, at least, a college football team that has a strong advantage one week should be a decent bet ATS the following week.

That premise has essentially held true to form over the past five years, as teams with at least a 15-minute advantage in time of possession are 119-97-2 (55.1%) against the spread and a profitable 217-181-6 (54.5%) over the past 10 years. Those numbers aren't bad for such a simple premise, but if we look to wager on these teams when they are underdogs, our winning percentage will jump several points.

Over the past five seasons, teams that were made underdogs the week after having at least a 15-minute advantage in time of possession were 61-45-2 (57.5%) against the spread, while these same teams went 100-78-4 against the number over the past 10 seasons.

If we break down the games into various point spread groupings, we'd get the following for the past five seasons:
Underdog of 2.5 points or less: 6-5
Underdog of 3 to 5.5 points: 15-8
Underdog of 6 to 9.5 points: 13-12
Underdog of 10 to 14.5 points: 13-9
Underdog of 15 to 19.5 points: 6-2-1
Underdog of 20 to 24.5 points: 3-3
Underdog of 25 or more points: 5-6

Looking at the past 10 years, we'd see the following: Underdog of 2.5 points or less: 11-11
Underdog of 3 to 5.5 points: 24-14-1
Underdog of 6 to 9.5 points: 24-21-1
Underdog of 10 to 14.5 points: 18-14
Underdog of 15 to 19.5 points: 11-6-1
Underdog of 20 to 24.5 points: 7-3
Underdog of 25 or more points: 5-9-1

One thing you'll notice is that the underdogs of 2.5 points or less are just 11-11 over 10 years and just 6-5 over the past five seasons, so it's best to apply a filter and drop those games from consideration.

Our system will now read "Play any underdog of three or more points that had at least a 15-minute time of possession advantage in its last game." The results would now be 55-40-2 (57.9%) over the past five years and 89-67-4 (57.1%) over the past 10 seasons, which are solid figures for such a simple concept.

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