Handicapping college football bowl games successfully requires a much different approach than during the regular season. In fact, almost every trend and situational play gets thrown out the window during these post season games. Let’s take a look at what trends have been successful in late December and early January college football.
This theory isn’t talking about Mom’s holiday dinners. There is a direct correlation between performance in bowl games and distance traveled. However, blindly taking the team traveling less is not a good strategy. This trend refers to two specific situations. First, look for teams playing in their home state or ideally their home city. These schools have been excellent point spread teams, hitting at around 70% over the last few seasons. The second part of this trend is to fade teams traveling very far distances to their bowl. These schools have several factors going against them. Because of the distance, not many fans attend the game, giving their opponent an emotional boost. Jet lag and adjusting to a new time zone are other obstacles that have to be overcome from the travel. Looking for an advantage or disadvantage in the bowl game location can provide several excellent betting opportunities.
One of the problems with betting bowl games weeks in advance is that several teams have either injuries or suspensions leading up to the game. Colleges have their first semester ending around middle December, meaning that academic results are released before these games. Consequently, if players have poor grades, then they can be kept out of a bowl game. In addition, players get in trouble leading up to their post season game either at their home campus or at the bowl site. Last season Florida State had several players suspended because of various misconduct issues. As a result, the Seminoles were extremely short handed in the Music City Bowl against Kentucky. The Wildcats were able to cover the spread in a seven point win. This season there has already been a key injury before the bowl games begin, as Demarco Murray, Oklahoma’s star running back, has been ruled out of the BCS Championship due to a leg injury.
Taking these large dogs have been tremendous point spread winners over the last few seasons. Bowl games with big point spreads usually feature an under achieving team against a team which barely made it to a bowl but is thrilled to be there. Another scenario is a team from a BCS conference facing a team from a non-BCS conference. Oddsmakers are forced to make these lines higher just because of the difference in talent. However, frequently these smaller schools relish the opportunity to show the world that they can compete with a BCS conference team. Last season East Carolina and Michigan were both able to win outright as double digit dogs. Look for large underdogs that have strong motivational edges over their favored opponent.