Bowl Game Betting: Does A Travel Advantage Help A Team Cover The Spread?

Staying near home could provide an advantage in bowl games (Photo by Aaron Gilbert/Icon Sportswire)

Do college bowl teams playing virtual home games (presumably, in front of a strongly partisan crowd) provide betting value?

At first blush, the answer seems to be no. If you define a “virtual home game” as a bowl game being played in the same metropolitan area as where a team plays its regular season games (even if it’s not at the exact same stadium), teams playing in virtual home games are 14-13 straight up and 14-13 against the spread since 2008.

So it would seem as though the betting market properly prices the impact of teams playing in their home cities for bowl games.

Dig a little deeper, though, and there is some evidence that teams with a regional proximity edge might provide value to college bowl bettors.

Teams Playing a Bowl Game in the Same State or a Neighboring State

We divided every bowl team since 2008 into four categories:

  1. Playing in its home metro area
  2. Playing in its home state
  3. Playing in a state that neighbors its home state
  4. Playing in any other type of bowl game

Home State Game vs. More Distant Opponent

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