College Bowl Predictions
by Robert Ferringo - 12/15/2009
Loyalty can be one of a gambler's worst enemies. That's why bettors should never - or at least rarely - wager on their favorite teams. They lose objectivity and are sometime blinded by their feelings about their teams.
Well, no time on the sports betting calendar puts loyalty to the test like college bowl season. This time of year I'm certain that college bowl predictions are more commonly made with the heart than with the head. In fact, I think that's what the books are counting on.
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Betting on your alma mater is rarely a good idea. I mean, I miss college as much as the next person. I miss having sex in the Syracuse University quad or puking in an alley down on Marshall Street (actually, come to think of it, I might have those backwards). But that doesn't mean that if my Orange were playing in the Dow Chemical Humanitarian Bowl that I would drop a $100 down on them just for the sake of it. Yet, as ridiculous as that sounds, I'm sure exactly that type of "loyalty" wager fuels plenty of the action on college bowl betting.
Producing winning college bowl predictions involves a lot more than your feelings about different teams. Judging things like motivation, matchups, the true strength of teams based on their schedule and performance, travel and timing, and also trends and past performances are all key parts of making profitable college bowl predictions.
So you may not want to make a wager against Rutgers because your jerk of a brother-in-law went to school there and you want to root like hell against them in front of him. Instead, it would be more prudent to know that Rutgers has covered four straight bowl games and that Central Florida is a pathetic 13-27-1 against the spread in its last 41 nonconference games. And thinking about that girl from Alabama with the huge, um, personality that you, um, met on Spring Break shouldn't be the foundation of your bet on the Crimson Tide to beat down Texas. Not when the team entering the game ranked No. 2 has won four straight BCS Championship Games and six of the last seven.
Now, you may be able to get away with winning a game or two betting like that. But that's a losing strategy in the long term. Instead, I've listed three pretty basic things here that you should consider before making a college bowl prediction. And if you take into account these three factors I think that your odds of earning some cash this holiday season are better than your odds were of talking those campus security guys into believing that the stuff really wasn't yours.
The USC Trojans are accustomed to playing for national championships and in BCS bowls. Now this year they are playing in the Emerald Bowl. USC's bowl is the day after Christmas - the same day as the big Ohio-Marshall game in the Meineke Car Care Bowl - against a ho-hum Boston College team. How 'up' for this game will the Trojans be? They certainly don't want to lose in their backyard (the game is in San Francisco) but will they have enough juice (or talent, I mean, they are in the Emerald Bowl for a reason) to cover the spread as a double-digit favorite? How excited for this game will the players, fans and coaches be, and how could that impact their preparation. That is an example of gauging a team's motivation.
The Armed Forces Bowl will take place on Dec. 31 and pits Air Force against Houston. The Cougars spent most of the year as a potential BCS-buster and are the clear-cut favorite in this game at -4. However, I'm not sure if everyone is aware of the extreme contrast in style here. Houston is a pass-happy team that loves to throw the ball. Well, they are facing the No. 1 pass defense in the country. Air Force, on the other hand, wants to pound the ball with their option running game. Well, they are facing the No. 112 rushing defense in the league. Both of those mean a severe matchup edge for the underdog and that means value.
Small variations in the spread shouldn't be a determinant in your final call on whether or not to place a wager. The outright winner of a bowl game covers the spread an overwhelming majority of the time so the most important thing you can do is try to determine who you think is going to get the 'W' first. But it's still important to keep an eye on line moves and find the right spot to bet in.
Middle Tennessee plays Southern Miss on Dec. 20 in the illustrious New Orleans Bowl. Southern Miss opened as a 6.0-point favorite but that line has since been bet down to just -3.5. If you had liked MTSU clearly the best time to get on them would have been right when the number came out or when you first saw it moving. But now if you think that Southern Miss is the play it may be better to wait to see if you can get the Eagles at 3.0 because that is an important number in football betting. Again, pick the winners first. But make sure to get the top line value that you can when you make your plays.
Those are three basic tips that you can use to objectively handicap any game this season. And that way when you're laying your money out your college bowl predictions will give you a chance to stay loyal to the one thing impacted the most by the outcome - your bankroll!
Robert Ferringo is a professional handicapper and has gone 8-2 ATS in the last 10 BCS National Championship Games. You can pick up one of his football packages here.
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