Situational Edges In First Quarter Lines


Every football coach plans out his team’s first series plays in practice during the week. Why? Because it’s imperative to get off to a fast start and put points on the board. Preparation is critical, and can pay off in the form of coordinated offense in the first quarter.

Accordingly, predicting a team’s first quarter performance can provide you with a winning payout without suffering the various end-of-game pitfalls that lurk every week – turnovers, backdoor covers, missed field goals, overtime, and even coaching miscues.

If your goal is to beat the book (or offshores), you need to identify every opportunity to gain an edge. And each week, there are edges to be found in first quarter lines.

Consider Utah State. Last season, the Aggies were a team of overachievers in oddmakers’ eyes. They nearly defeated Wisconsin on the Badgers’ home field. But most teams do not surprise opponents by delivering fourth quarter comebacks week after week. Instead, they come out swinging. And Utah State came out swinging with strong, resounding starts every single week.

Utah State’s out-of-the-gate starts resulted in a supreme first quarter edge for bettors in 2012 – the Aggies never trailed once at the end of the first quarter. And defensively, Utah State was just as sharp – they never allowed more than a single field goal in the first quarter.

Over the course of its 13-game season, the combined prodigious total score of the Aggies compared to its first quarter opponents was an insane 138 to 9. But, based on the end result of many of their games, one might not have recognized this strong attribute of the 2012 Utah State Aggies.

There are places you can go to see this level of in-depth detail, such as sportsbook online sites like These will provide all the key lines you seek.

When considering a first quarter line, there are several variables to look at before you dive in.

First, unlike the end of the game, or the end of the half, a team’s sense of urgency is not critical at the end of the first quarter. Once the clock hits that minute-and-a-half mark, an NCAA coach will usually call a conservative run play or two in order to reduce the time left in the quarter.

That’s important to remember because you can be sure that teams are not going to go for a field goal or lob a Hail Mary pass into the end zone just because the quarter is coming to an end. In fact, a team may be gearing up for a traditional third-and-goal play or taking their time setting up to kick a field goal on fourth down. So if the play clock is under 40 seconds, you may as well consider the quarter over.

Knowing a team’s red zone percentage is also a key factor. If a team lacks the weapons to score a higher percentage of touchdowns to field goals, it may be wise to skip that game for a first quarter line.

There are plenty of collegiate teams that can get the ball inside their opponents’ 20-yard line but are unreliable when it comes to scoring TDs. Syracuse was a prime example of this last season. With Ryan Nassib at quarterback, the Orange moved the ball and scored a lot of points. Its touchdowns-to-field goal ratio was one of the reasons the Orange won a lot of close games. But, a closer look reveals that during all the first quarters in 2012, Syracuse had a total of 14 scoring drives and 10 of those were field goals while only four were TDs.

While it didn’t make its mark as a first quarter scoring team, Syracuse did a great job protecting the football. Turnovers are critical in all phases of the game, and they need to be appropriately taken into considerations for first quarter lines. Remember that odds are created to cover both sides of the spectrum from a potential bettor. The half-point is there, and you can be sure it will come into play.

With all the fast-paced offenses in college sports, time of possession has seemingly become a non-factor. But you can’t allow yourself to constrain your thinking when it comes to sides or totals. The opposing team will come prepared on game day with a plan to try to nullify their opponent’s strength.
Handicapping is all about percentages. A large percentage of wagers are on full-game odds. That is where the oddmakers make the bulk of their money. So use a contrarian mind and find cracks available in a first quarter line, where attention is neglected from a regular handicapper.

The net result of this strategy is simple: If you want to win, don’t limit yourself to just betting on complete-game action. Instead, find new angles and different edges throughout all the odds that are offered through and at your local sportsbook.


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