College Football Bowl Handicapping Tips
The college football bowl season is here and this year bettors have 40 games to sort through, which is an all-time high. Naturally, some less-than-deserving teams made it to a bowl game this year, but those teams could turn out to be good bets, depending on the situation they find themselves in.
Handicapping bowl games is a different process than handicapping regular season games. Teams have at least several weeks to prepare for a particular opponent, which makes coaching take on greater importance than it does during the regular season. If a good coach can get his team ready to play a good game in just a week, he should have his team primed for a good performance, especially if his team is going up against a squad that gets by on talent alone.
The mental aspect of the game takes on added significance, as there are some teams thrilled to be playing in a bowl game, such as Georgia State, which won its last four games to become bowl eligible, including a victory over Georgia Southern as a 21-point underdog in the regular season finale to get win No. 6. Their opponent, San Jose State, is one of the three 5-7 teams that received bowl invites on the basis of their schoolwork, not what they did on the field. The Spartans are guaranteed a losing season even with a win, so they may go through the motions or may come out with a chip on their shoulder trying to prove they belong in the post-season.
For others teams, it’s a bit easier to find a group of players who aren’t likely to be happy playing where they are. A team like Arizona, which lost four of its last five games, can’t be too happy about playing in the New Mexico Bowl, where they will be playing a Lobos team that will have a true home game. New Mexico definitely gets the motivation edge; the question will be if Arizona’s superior talent will be enough to overcome that.
A similar occurrence happens in college basketball each season, where some teams are left out of the tournament but believe they should have made it in. Some of the teams will set out to prove a point a point and reach the finals of the tournament they do play in, while others will go through the motions and often get knocked out in the first round by an inferior squad.
Unlike regular season games, where at least the home team is used to playing on the surface the game is being played on, in bowl games you may find both teams playing on a different surface than they’re accustomed to. Two turf teams playing on a grass field may lend itself to an under, while it may be worth looking at the over when you have two grass teams now playing on a faster artificial turf.
Neutral locations also lend themselves to one team having a definite advantage when it comes to fan support. It will be much easier for fans of Central Michigan to travel 155 miles to watch the Quick Lane Bowl than it is for fans of Minnesota to travel almost 700 miles to watch the game. And much like the players, fans are more interested in going to the big games than they are one of the minor bowls, making them less likely to travel for an unappealing bowl game.
With so many games on the schedule this year, don’t feel that you have to play them all. As with any schedule of games, some will be worth a wager, while others are better to sit back and watch. With 40 games on the schedule, there will be another one just around the corner.
For a current list of odds and the best lines for NCAA College bowl games I suggest you check out 5Dimes.