College Football: Evaluating Returning Starters

When it comes to NCAA football betting, we constantly hear about the importance of returning players. In past years, the number of returning starters and players on a team has been a significant tool for handicappers. A team with a large number of returning players may be able to stand their ground against a more talented but less experienced team. Additionally, when two teams are equal in terms of talent, the more experienced team will usually prevail. In this article, we’ll take a look at how to evaluate returning players and starters and what to make of this.


While there are some positions that benefit far more from experience than others, the most obvious position is the quarterback. If the quarterback isn’t used to the speed and complexity of plays at the college level, he’s going to flat out struggle.

Offensive And Defensive Lines

Additionally, both the offensive and defensive lines tend to benefit more from experience. Experience offensive linemen know how to better protect their quarterback while defensive linemen take a while to learn how to get past the offensive linemen.

Running Backs

On the flipside, running backs tend to not be affected by experience as much as other positions since running backs are capable of gunning out of the blocks, especially if they don’t face too heavy of a burden to begin with.

Length Of Advantage

While more experienced teams will have a sizeable advantage in this department at the start of the regular season, this advantage tends to erode over time as the season progresses and other players on opposing teams gain more experience. When it comes to handicapping and sports betting, the tricky part is to figure out when a team has gained enough experience so that this is no longer a detrimental aspect. Here are a few things to look for when trying to do so.

#1 – Consistent Improvement

Young football players have a lot of improving and growing to do and there will be bumps along the road. However, when players have shown solid statistical progress game after game, this tends to be an extremely positive sign.

#2 – Handle Pressure Situations

High pressure situations may include playing in a huge rivalry game, a nationally televised game, a game in a hostile environment, a game against a top ranked opponent, or being down by a point with under two minutes to play. The better young players are able to perform in these high-pressure situations, the more confident you can feel in their ability to adjust to football at the college level.

#3 – Shine Against Outmatched Opponents

When young players are matched up against inferior opponents, they should be able to outperform and shine. If these young players aren’t able to outperform their inferior counterparts, this is a sign that they’ll likely take a bit longer to adjust than usual.

#4 – Risk Taking From Coaches

It takes a certain level of consistent performance to earn the trust of coaches, especially when all eyes are on your decisions and how they end up panning out. As a result, if it seems that a coach is getting very aggressive in calling plays for his younger players, this is a good sign that these players can be trusted and have gained enough experience.

#5 – Playing Above Expectations

While many young players will come into the regular season filled with expectations, they may be under a lot of pressure to meet or exceed these expectations. When young players are able to meet or exceed expectations, this often comes with more experience and shows that they are truly ready to play at a high level.