College football bowl games can be a stern test for even the best handicappers
Handicapping college bowl games is very, very different from handicapping regular season college games. This is because the bowl games themselves are different from other games. All of the college bowl games have a national TV contract. For some of the bowl teams, this is their only televised game of the entire year. The teams desperately want to have a good showing in order to help with their recruiting. Let's face it, the best advertising for any college football program is playing on TV.
Another thing that sets bowl games apart from regular season college football games is that they are played at neutral sites by teams that have not faced each other this season, if ever. The bowl games feature teams from different conferences making it very difficult to get a read on who has played a better schedule. College bowl game matchups strongly resemble the number 8 versus number 9 seed matchups in the first round of the NCAA Basketball tournament. Those of you who follow the Big Dance know how difficult those games are to handicap. You also know that the underdog has a very good chance of winning the game outright.
Use Expert Handicapping Factors, Tips and Angles for Successful Wagering on College Bowl Games
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The layoff factor also plays a role in college bowl games. Many teams have a break of several weeks between the end of their regular season college football schedule and their bowl game. This is a key factor, for some coaches are much better than other at preparing their team to play after a long layoff.
During the college football regular season, coaches have their teams on a schedule. The players and coaches both have a fixed routine when it comes to preparing for an upcoming game. The times at which the players study, lift weights, practice and even eat are all planned out. This all changes during the time leading up to a bowl game. Some coaches are better than others at getting their team ready to play in a big game. When the legendary Don James coached at the University of Washington, other coaches would always remark before playing the Huskies in a bowl game, that they loathed giving Don James so much time to prepare for a game.
This coaching angle is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, angles you will find for handicapping a college football bowl game.
The big question is how do you exploit this angle for maximum profit? The answer lies in the past performances of coaches in bowl games. If a coach is taking a team to a bowl game for the first time, they should be greatly discounted. Examine the win/loss record of the coaches in their previous bowl games. Look at both the overall record and their record as an underdog versus their record as a favorite. When it comes to picking the winner of college bowl games, the coach really does matter.
No, we aren't referring to college pranks here. We are talking about teams that are streaking in either a good or a bad way. This is a very simple angle: Bet against teams that have won three in a row, and bet for teams that have lost three in a row against the spread. Underdogs simply bring so much value to the table that it is a no-brainer to play them whenever the scenario is right.
The public loves to bet on high scoring offenses. You may have heard an old saying that "a good defense always beats a good offense." Well, in most cases it is the stone cold truth. Let the public take the high octane offense. Take the value and go for a good defense.
What's this? Everybody knows that bowl games are played at neutral sites. Wrong! There are times when bowl games are played either in a team's home stadium (Hawaii and Boise State come to mind), or very close to their home stadiums (MAC teams among others). The home team advantage is huge in all sports all the time.
The public will be quick to bet against teams that are returning to the same bowl game that they lost the previous year. Teams are highly motivated to make amends for bowl losses and are, therefore, worth a look. This angle is particularly powerful if the team was routed in the same bowl game during the previous year. Schools on bowl losing streaks are better still. Remember, we're looking for 'live dogs."
Smaller schools have a Napoleonic complex when competing in bowl games against larger schools. Both players and coaches at the small school want to make a name for themselves by thumping a big time opponent. Big schools, conversely, are usually matched against these smaller conference schools because they had a disappointing (i.e. 6 win, 5 loss) season. They may be physically superior to the smaller school, but are often less motivated. For them, this is the Disappointment Bowl, while for the other team it is the Put Us on the Map Bowl. Bet accordingly.
Look for teams that ran the table (exception: team could have lost 1st or 2nd game of the season, then ran the table) up until the last game of the season then lost their final game. This would usually be the rivalry game or the conference championship game. Bet against these teams in their bowl game. This angle is especially powerful if the loss cost the team a BCS game. It is even more powerful if that loss cost the team a chance to play for the national title.
The Heisman Trophy is the biggest award out there, and that is the one we are really talking about here. Bet against the team with the Heisman Trophy winner in bowl games. It is a great way to find value since most non-value seeking sports bettors will be putting their money on the favorite.