As another college football season is well underway, one question that comes to mind is how FCS teams have fared against FBS competition. We will look at this through the lens of betting, but also include the straight up records for the FCS teams.
The time frame covers game from the beginning of the 2013 season and all lines were taken from Vegas Insider’s “Consensus Six” lines.
Let’s begin with the fact that only one FCS team has played host to an FBS team. That was this past weekend when Army traveled to Yale. Yale won in overtime 49-43 in an exciting and wild game. Yale did so as 14.5 point underdog and at +450 on the money line.
2013 saw 111 games between FCS and FBS teams with 16 FCS teams emerging victorious (14%).
In those 111 games, 6 FCS teams were favored over FBS competition (5%). All six of those games were won by FCS opponents.
The average spread of the games was +27.8 points for the FCS teams. The average money line was +23555 for FCS teams. The average money line for FBS teams was -70904.
For those wondering what the ROI would have been in 2013 if they bet EVERY FCS, it would have actually yielded a profit. A $100 wager on the 111 games would have cost $11,100. The return would have been $17,953. That is an ROI of 61.74%.
As many remember, that was anchored by the massive upset by Georgia Southern over the Florida Gators. Georgia Southern was +8700 on the money line and were 28.5 point underdogs.
Of course, not everyone can stomach to put $100 on an FCS team that many times, so let’s take a look at how the FCS teams did against the spread.
FCS teams covered a total of 52 times for a win percentage of 46.8. The overall record was 52-56-3 against the spread. Not a bad record considering how “inferior” the FCS teams allegedly are.
2013 was an excellent season for FCS teams, but how have they done thus far in 2014?
There have been 95 games between FCS and FBS teams. So far, 7 FCS teams (7.4%) have won their game.
Two FCS teams (2.1%) were favored by Vegas to win their games. Only Bethune–Cookman against Florida International on August 30th won. Neither team covered.
The average spread for the FCS teams in 2014 has been +26.6. The average money line for the FCS teams has been +16,666. The average money line for the FBS teams is -41,232.
For those who saw the success of betting FCS teams on the money in 2013, this year has been very bad for them. An outlay of $9,500 would yield a return of $3,503 for an ROI of -63.13%.
How have FCS teams against the spread? FCS teams have covered 44 of the 95 games (46.3%). The overall record of FCS teams against the spread is 44-49-2.
The total outlay for betting FCS teams on the money line would be $20,600 through week 5 of the 2014 college football season. The return would be $21,456, which is an ROI of 4.16%.
FCS teams are 96-105-5 for a winning percentage of 46.6%. That is far below the percentage needed to turn a profit.
Yes, that is a profit of $856 if one bets only the money line, but that is hardly worth the outlay of $20,600. Most seasoned bettors would agree that picking and choosing your spots is a far better alternative. That would be a better idea, especially when a team like North Dakota State is constantly defeating FBS teams.