As October winds down and November nears, a realization occurs: College football is about to be at full strength.
For weeks, we have seen the game trickle back into our lives, from the Sun Belt and Conference USA kicking things off in early September to the SEC getting into the swing of things toward the tail end of the month.
This weekend, another power conference, the Big Ten, kicks things into gear. So, too, does the Mountain West, two weeks before the last of the Power 5 conferences, the Pac-12, enters the fold.
No doubt college football has contributed to still-growing Colorado sports betting. And with local programs in the Mountain West and Pac-12 ready to get their feet wet, regulated wagering in the Centennial State will only grow stronger, especially as Colorado operators cash in on the pent-up demand for more local college football.
Don’t expect a singular spike in sports betting. Sportsbooks in Colorado sure aren’t. This will be a season-long upward trend.
Mountain West football ready to return, Pac-12 next
It almost causes a double-take to think that the Mountain West elected to postpone its fall season just two months ago, just before the Pac-12 decided to do the same.
Now, both conferences — which include three colleges in Colorado — will be among the last to resume their football seasons. (The Mid-American Conference is the only other conference not to have brought football back; it will do so the same week as the Pac-12.)
On Saturday, the Mountain West will make its 2020 debut with five games. The original schedule featured six contests, but the conference canceled the matchup between New Mexico and Colorado State in Fort Collins because of a COVID-19 outbreak in New Mexico.
Two weeks after Saturday’s games, the Pac-12 will make its return with a full slate of six games.
|Date||Mountain West Conference||Pac-12 Conference|
|Sat, Oct. 24||Wyoming at Nevada|
Hawai‘i at Fresno St
Utah St at Boise St
Air Force at San José St
UNLV at SDSU
|Thur, Oct. 29||Colorado St at Fresno St||---|
|Fri, Oct. 30||Hawai‘i at Wyoming||---|
|Sat, Oct. 31||Boise St at Air Force|
San José St at New Mexico
SDSU at Utah St
Nevada at UNLV
|Thur, Nov. 5||Utah St at Nevada|
Wyoming at Colorado St
|Fri, Nov. 6||San José St at SDSU|
BYU at Boise St
|Sat, Nov. 7||Air Force at Army|
New Mexico at Hawai‘i
Fresno St at UNLV
|Arizona St at USC
Arizona at Utah
Stanford at Oregon
UCLA at Colorado
Washington at Cal
Washington St at Oregon St
|Thur, Nov. 12||Colorado St at Boise St||---|
|Fri, Nov. 13||---||Utah at UCLA|
|Sat, Nov. 14||UNLV at San José St|
Fresno St at Utah St
Nevada at New Mexico
Hawai‘i at SDSU
Air Force at Wyoming
|Cal at Arizona St
Oregon at Washington St
USC at Arizona
Oregon St at Washington
Colorado at Stanford
|Thur, Nov. 19||Utah St at Wyoming||---|
|Fri, Nov. 20||New Mexico at Air Force||UCLA at Oregon|
|Sat, Nov. 21||UNLV at Colorado St|
Boise St at Hawai‘i
SDSU at Nevada
San José St at Fresno St
|USC at Utah
Washington St at Stanford
Cal at Oregon St
Arizona St at Colorado
Arizona at Washington
|Thur, Nov. 26||New Mexico at Utah St|
Colorado St at Air Force
|Fri, Nov. 27||SDSU at Fresno St|
Wyoming at UNLV
|Oregon at Oregon St
Washington at Washington St
Stanford at Cal
|Sat, Nov. 28||San José St at Boise St|
Nevada at Hawai‘i
|Colorado at USC
Utah at Arizona St
Arizona at UCLA
|Thur, Dec. 3||Air Force at Utah St||---|
|Fri, Dec. 4||Boise St at UNLV||Washington St at USC|
|Sat, Dec. 5||Fresno St at Nevada|
Hawai‘i at San José St
Wyoming at New Mexico
Colorado St at SDSU
|Oregon at Cal
Oregon St at Utah
Stanford at Washington
UCLA at Arizona St
Colorado at Arizona
|Fri, Dec. 11||Nevada at San José St||Utah at Colorado
Arizona St at Arizona
|Sat, Dec. 12||SDSU at BYU|
Fresno St at New Mexico
UNLV at Hawai‘i
Boise St at Wyoming
Utah St at Colorado St
|Washington at Oregon
USC at UCLA
Oregon St at Stanford
Cal at Washington St
|Fri, Dec. 18||---||Pac-12 Championship|
|Sat, Dec. 19||Mountain West Championship||---|
More college football means more sports betting interest
Certainly, state-regulated sports betting receives ample boosts in the fall, particularly from the NFL. But obviously, college football contributes in a big way.
A few months ago, we were unsure if the season would even happen. Since then, the game has slowly returned. And to no one’s surprise, sports betting handle has steadily climbed. The same trend will occur in Colorado over the next few weeks.
“As more conferences start their seasons, we are naturally seeing an uptick in our college football handle,” said Stephen Macken, risk and trading lead for college football at FanDuel Sportsbook. “With the start of the Mountain West and Pac-12, customers will have games kick off later than 6 p.m. Mountain Time, which is great for Colorado customers and provides more options for college football customers on the East Coast.”
Since the first games brought light into the college sports world in early September, the betting action has been on with regulated sportsbooks. But as most of the games only involved programs east of Colorado, the action essentially halted just after dinner in the Rockies.
Now, with both the Mountain West and Pac-12 coming back, college football will continue late into the night, as it rightfully should. And as a result, there will be more college football betting opportunities and more business for regulated sportsbooks.
College football betting not just a Saturday affair
And it’s not just that college football will extend its hours on Saturdays. It also will spill over into other days of the week. Lower-level conferences will have their time in the spotlight more frequently, as will the power conferences.
The Pac-12, for example, has scheduled eight Friday games during the regular season, complementing its slate of 28 Saturday games. The Mountain West, meanwhile, will feature eight games on Thursdays, eight on Fridays and 33 on Saturdays.
Such scheduling expansion, according to Johnny Avello, could lead to a rise in college football betting action.
“From reading what the Mountain West is going to do this year, it’s probably going to be a little more popular than in the past for some college football bettors,” said Avello, director of DraftKings Sportsbook. “The reason I say that is because some of these games are going to be on Thursdays and Fridays. It’s not like we haven’t had a Mountain West game on a Friday, but to have it every single Thursday and Friday, I think the Mountain West is going to get a little more exposure to some bettors out there.”
Avello explained that even with the Pac-12 two weeks out from getting going, and even with the Big Ten not yet underway, football handle has not necessarily taken a nosedive. After all, he said, people can’t wager on every single game.
“You can’t bet ’em all, right? You can’t bet ’em all, you can’t watch ’em all,” Avello continued. “So now the focus is on what we actually do have. By moving some of these games to Thursday and Friday, that helps. Even with the NFL, some of these games are being played on Tuesday, and that helps.
“When you start isolating games, [it’s] like Henry Ford said: ‘You can buy this Model T Ford in any color you want, as long as it’s black.’ Well, you can bet on any single game on Thursday night as long as it’s these three (games) or as long as it’s these two, or however many games are being offered. I just think the focus on betting goes on those particular games.”
Colorado college football betting spike will be sustained through fall
When major sports began to return in the summer, bettors’ pent-up demand emerged. Handle and revenue spiked across the country. A similar shift occurred when the NFL came back, and again with the first college football games.
Colorado bettors have not been able to wager on their local programs and conferences. Soon, they will. And that spike will become apparent.
But it likely won’t be a one-off trend. It could last throughout the remainder of the college football season.
“The key will be when fans start seeing meaningful games and rivalry games on their screens each Saturday,” Macken said. “The Georgia vs. Alabama game was a great example of this. … We didn’t see early action on games, with customers trying to better understand issues like how does a COVID-positive test on the coach earlier in the week impact Saturday’s game, but once you see who is on the field, game day is just as exciting for the trading team as it is for customers.”
Avello agreed and emphasized Colorado’s ties to the Mountain West (Colorado State, Air Force) and Pac-12 (Colorado), not to mention the countless other fans of regional programs.
“I don’t see any reason why this won’t be popular as in the past for people who like to bet Mountain West. And who likes to bet Mountain West? Well, people who follow the Mountain West, people who like the Mountain West and those teams, and people that think there’s an edge on the lines that these oddsmakers have put up.”