College Football Betting: Teams With Extra Motivation This Week
by Trevor Whenham - 11/27/2008
For many teams this is the last week of the college football season. That means the start of the postseason for some, but for a lot of players the only thing happening after this weekend is a return to the life of a normal student. The finality of this weekend can create some opportunities for bettors, though. There are inevitably going to teams that are going to be motivated to play their best, but which will fly below the public's radar. That means that they present real value. Here are five teams that could fit that bill:
Auburn - The season has been a total disaster for Auburn. They were expected to be a contender, but they have been so bad that much of the public has probably forgotten that they exist. There are at least two reasons, though, to think that they might play beyond themselves this weekend. Both require the assumption that the team has pride - not necessarily a safe assumption for a team that is just 2-8 ATS. As long as you are aware of the risks, though, let's look at the reasons. First, the team is just a win away from bowl eligibility. More significantly, that win would come against Alabama. The Iron Bowl is one of the most intense, bitter rivalries in the country. Auburn should have no trouble getting up for this game, especially when they have the chance to destroy the Tide's championship dreams. It doesn't look good for the Tigers based on the season, but Auburn is riding a six-game wining streak against Alabama, so anything could happen.
Vanderbilt - This is another one that would have to come down to pride. After a huge 5-0 start, the Commodores have gone just 1-5 since. Their 6-5 record has them bowl eligible already, but 6-6 would be a terrible way to end the season given the start. They have a winnable game against Wake Forest, and it certainly seems possible that they will be especially motivated to win it. At the very least, Vanderbilt has one thing going for it in this game - they are a much better ATS team than the Demon Deacons.
Colorado - Dan Hawkins needed to build on his 6-6 season last year. After a big win over West Virginia left them at 3-0 it certainly looked like they would. They have just two wins since then, though, and they are desperately in need of a win to become bowl eligible. To get there they have to get past a big rival in Nebraska. The Huskers are in a rebuilding phase of their own, but the stakes aren't as high for them. That plus the huge spread could combine to give Colorado an opportunity to put together a big performance here. Colorado just needs to look back to last year for inspiration - they came out ahead in a crazy 65-51 shootout. That game was the last straw in the Nebraska career for Bill Callahan. Hawkins surely hopes this game doesn't lead to the same fate for him.
Akron - I'll admit that I picked this team partly because I like saying "Zips". There is more to it than that, though. Akron is sitting at 5-6, and so one more win would make them bowl eligible. Given that they have had only four wins each of the last two years that's a big deal. The MAC only has four bowl eligible teams now, and a maximum of six could be, so there will be a bowl for Akron if they get that sixth win. That should be more than enough motivation for them to have a big game against a pretty uninspiring Temple squad. There is also a payback angle here - Temple upset Akron as 12-point underdogs last year, so revenge would be sweet.
UTEP - UTEP's story is virtually identical to Akron's - a 5-6 team in a top-heavy conference that really needs the boost a bowl would give them. Mike Price's squad has just nine wins the last two years, and the program seems to be spinning its wheels. The Miners have a tougher task than Akron, though - they have to get past East Carolina, the former media darlings who have fallen hard to 7-4. The two programs have only ever played once before - East Carolina won in overtime last year. UTEP has covered their last three, and three of their last four at home, so they are capable of a good performance. They'll need one here, but that bowl game could be a big enough incentive to get one. The Miners have one thing going for them here - a big edge at QB. Trevor Vittatoe is having one of the most under-appreciated seasons in the country this year. He has 31 touchdowns against just six interceptions, he'll pass 3,000 yards passing in this game, and he is averaging almost eight yards per attempt.