USFL betting: Bettors love unders in league's first ever week of action

The USFL kicks off its inaugural season on Saturday night as another spring football league gives it a go. While it's not the NFL and likely never will be, betting on football is something that certainly appeals to most bettors. As action starts coming in on the USFL, one trend is impossible to ignore.

Bettors love unders on opening weekend

Let's be honest and admit that we don't know what the USFL will look like. We can guess which players and teams will be good based on recognizable names and coaches, but we don't know how that will translate onto the field in 2022. Some of these coaches haven't coached in years and some of these players have been out of our minds for years.

Sportsbooks are also protecting themselves for that reason. All of the spreads for this weekend are under a touchdown and three of the four spreads are under a field goal. Tampa Bay has gotten 89% of the bets against Pittsburgh, pushing that line up to 5.5 points.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 08: Clayton Thorson #8 of the Philadelphia Eagles warms up before a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans at Lincoln Financial Field on August 8, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)
Clayton Thorson is one of many notable names playing in the USFL this season. (Corey Perrine/Getty Images)

While we try to figure out the teams, bettors do have conviction on just how high scoring these games will be. Currently at BetMGM, at least 88% of the betting handle is on the under in each of the four games. We've also seen the totals come down across the board.

  • The New Jersey vs. Birmingham total moved from 43.5 to 41.5 points; 92% of money on the under.

  • The Houston vs. Michigan total moved from 44.5 to 42.5 points; 89% of money on the under.

  • The Philadelphia vs. New Orleans total moved from 45.5 to 43.5 points; 88% of money on the under.

  • The Tampa Bay vs. Pittsburgh total moved from 45.5 to 41.5 points; 92% of money on the under.

History suggests unders might be a good bet

We can't compare the USFL to the NFL or even college football. For the most part, the coaching talent and player talent in those ranks are better. We know NFL totals on average are in the high 40s while college football totals are in the mid-50s. That data helps, but it's not something I would overly rely on.

Over the past few years, we've seen the AAF and XFL attempt spring football leagues. Those leagues are likely more applicable when trying to figure out the USFL. The talent level is similar and while the coaches and rules might be slightly different, it's a good baseline.

In 2019, the AAF played eight weeks before shutting down. In those 32 games, scores averaged just 39.9 points. The average total for this weekend in the USFL is 42.5 points. Back in 2019, 19 of 32 AAF games went under that total.

In 2020, the XFL played five weeks before the pandemic forced it to shut down. In the 20 games we saw of XFL football, the games averaged 41 points. In total, 11 of those 20 games finished under the total of 42.5 points.

While betting unders might not be fun, there's a reason that all of this money is coming in and projecting low-scoring games during the first week of USFL action. History tells us that these spring leagues don't have quite as many points as the NFL and college football. This might be one angle to take advantage of before the world (and oddsmakers) figure out what exactly the USFL might look like.