College Football Handicapping: Mid-Week Games
by Trevor Whenham - 10/02/2008
We are at the point in the college football season when we start to see Tuesday and Wednesday night games. Those games usually don't involve high-profile teams playing exciting games. On the other hand, they are football games, and any time there is a football game it's a good thing. If you are a bettor that finds the wait from Monday night to Saturday morning to be almost unbearable then you probably love these games. Playing the games well requires a bit of a different approach than other games, though. It's not like they are an entirely different sport, but you will do better betting on the games if you adjust your mindset a bit. Here's a look at five adjustments you might want to consider:
Look at how they have prepared - A team usually comes into a mid-week game either off of short rest, or more rest than normal. Each one will have a different impact on the team. Short rest will impact their health and preparation. Long rest will make them healthy and perhaps more prepared. Their last game is also significant. If a team has had a long rest, but they are coming off an upset win, then they may have had too much time to read their headlines and believe their hype. If they came off of a terrible loss then the extra time may have given them more time to feel sorry for themselves. By considering the scenarios you might be able to get some insight into how the team will react. You might be able to draw some insights based on how the team has responded to past bye weeks.
Past experience with strange preps - Athletes in general, and football players in particular, love routines. Playing on a mid-week evening disrupt their routines. Their practice schedules are different, their travel is different, they miss classes. For some teams that won't be a big deal, while for others it will really disrupt their rhythm and affect their play. It's hard to know how a team will react, but you may be able to get a hint from looking to see if they have played a mid-week game in the past, and how they performed compared to expectations. It might sound like a small thing, but the impact can be very real.
Extra prep time can give an edge - In most cases a team comes into a mid-week game off of a week and a half of rest. All other things being equal, this probably gives an edge to the team that is more talented or better coached. The extra time gives them more time to get familiar with their opponents, make adjustments for their strengths, and to develop ways to exploit their weaknesses. If you can figure out which team is more talented, or which coach is clearly better, than you might have an edge in the game. This is often the case even if both teams have had the same amount of rest - some teams are much better at making adjustments than other teams.
Get to know a bit about the conference - Mid-week games typically don't involve teams from BCS conferences. In fact, they often involve conferences that you probably don't know too much about. The nice thing, though, is that because there are usually only one or two games on a night you have more time to get to know the conference a bit. It often doesn't take much time at all to figure out which teams are good, which teams aren't, and how teams match up against each other. In many cases it's actually an advantage looking at teams you don't know much about. That way you can make your decisions based on what you see on paper, not on your particular biases or feelings based on watching teams or reading about them.
Don't be afraid to pass on the games - You don't have to bet on a game just because it's there. On a Saturday or Sunday you'll regularly pass on a game when you don't think you have an edge. Many bettors will throw their money away on a bad game on a weeknight, though, just because nothing else is going on. That's a great way to lose your bankroll. If you don't see an edge in a game, pass on it. If you need something to entertain yourself that night instead, just go to a movie or something. There's that cliché about how sometimes the best bet is the one you don't make. This could be one of those times.