Examining the Home Field Advantage’s Impact On NCAA Football Odds

Posted by Alex Murphy on July 12, 2015 in

Just recently, we published an article about the toughest college football stadiums to visit, with the Tiger Stadium being listed as the most brutal place to visit in the nation. In this article, our focus will be on the importance of playing at home, commonly termed as home field advantage, with a few crucial ideas borrowed from that initial article and then blended with new information to illuminate the connection between playing at home and the potential effect on the College Football betting lines.

Examining the Home Field Advantage’s Impact On NCAA Football Odds

What is the True Value of Home Field Advantage?

Based on past studies carried out by various experts, the general consensus is that home field advantage in college football typically means “about three points” difference in the final score. In essence, this means that if two teams are considered to be identical in strengths and weaknesses, then neither of teams should be favored on a neutral ground, while the team playing at home would be favored by about three points if they played in their own backyard.

In the instance that a the team with home field advantage was already a clear favorite, let’s say by four points, then the eventual odds can go as high as favoring that home team by seven or eight points. The presumed three points is actually a rounded up general figure, as some stadiums could offer value as high as 10 points, while others home stadiums don’t offer any advantage.

Reasons Playing at Home Can Be Advantageous

There is no shortage of speculative reasons as to why playing at home can be advantageous. Here are some of the top reasons in favor of home field advantage:

Crowd Noise: This is an obvious reason behind most of the victories attained by teams playing at home. For example, playing at the LSU Tigers stadium that is filled by 100,000-plus fans screaming at you and taunting you to fail can be very intimidating, especially to small teams or inexperienced players that are used to playing in less crowded environments.

Travel Fatigue: The fatigue that comes with clocking serious miles during travels tends to have an effect on the visiting teams, as they are often tired, which makes it difficult for them to play to the best of their abilities. For example, Boston College traveled a whopping 15,500 round-trip miles in the 2013 season, a factor that was partly responsible to their 2-4 road record at the end of that season. In 2014, the travels were reduced as Boston College had fewer true road games, and as a result, the team finished with a 4-1 record on the road.

Biased Officiating: In the book Scorecasting written by Toby Moscowitz and Jon Wertheim, the researchers found out that home teams tend to get slightly preferential treatment from the officials during games. Whether the biased officiating is as a result of pressure from the home crowd or involuntary favoritism, the bottom line is that such calls often favor the home team, thus giving them some undue advantage over visiting teams.

Other factors such as unsuitable resting facilities (like locker rooms and resting lodges), or unfamiliar training grounds and playing fields can also negatively influence the efficiency of the visiting teams and favor the home teams..

NCAA Football Betting Takeaways and Final Remarks

All factors considered, home field advantage is a crucial element in NCAAF betting and it won’t be going away any time soon. After all, all teams in college football get to have their own fair share of home games, giving every team a chance to create its own home field advantage. For bettors, the biggest takeaway from all these is that, careful studies should be made about teams with the best and worst “home field advantages” in the league. By having the knowledge of such trends and combining it with other relevant aspects of college football betting analysis, we will be able to make well-informed betting decisions, particularly on the SU, ATS and total betting college football odds that are most affected by playing at home or on the road.