Most players sell themselves short when they concentrate on just the games of that particular week. Looking ahead can yield many gems and, with no point spreads, can remove any bias that can go hand in hand with a posted line. Not everyone can fast forward several weeks in a schedule and successfully predict winners. In most cases, this talent is an instinct and has to come naturally. However, the more you try to find these situations, the more these types of plays will start to appear in the schedule. In looking ahead, you have to be very careful not to let the line scare you once the day approaches. You may zero in on a particular game and figure the team you like may be favored by seven points, as an example. When the lines are set, the team may be actually as high as ten or eleven. Obviously, the oddsmaker has also recognized what you are looking at. One must always remember the lines are set to get fifty percent wagering on both sides. Therefore, stick to your guns and don't let that line difference sway your mind.
In my research, I have found a couple of games that illustrate my point:
September 13, Penn State at Nebraska
After a 40-7 thrashing last year at the hands of Penn State, revenge will weigh heavily on the minds of the Huskers. The Nittany Lions lost three of the four starters on the offensive line. They also lost a couple key linebackers plus the biggest loss could be that of All American RB Larry Johnson. Penn State plays their first two games at home against Temple and Boston College which should give them a 2-0 start. This start should give us a decent line if Nebraska is your choice. This is a big year for the Huskers and they have to get it turned around after last year's disappointing season. The talent is certainly there and although a lot of the coaching staff has been replaced, head coach Frank Solich is still there. I think this will be the biggest emotional game of the year for Nebraska, especially after last year's result. This game will set the pace for the Huskers whole season and they will want to make a statement.
September 20, Arizona State at Iowa
Last year was a big year for the Hawkeyes. In my opinion, this year's team will follow what Illinois did after the 200l year of which they won the Big Ten. The offense for the Illini lost heavy through graduation and 2002 became a disaster. This Iowa team is somewhat in the same situation. As I look ahead to the schedule, Iowa will have three games under their belt by the time the Sun Devils roll into Iowa City. The Hawks will be coming off a big road game against in-state rivals Iowa State. The Hawkeyes, who will play their first two games at home, lost to the Cyclones last year 36-31 and will bring everything they have into Ames. Iowa could be 3-0 or 2-1 by the time they face Arizona State. The oddsmakers may keep this line very, very low because of the home field advantage and record factors. Iowa is going to go against a very tough team in Arizona State, who may end up as one of the top teams in the nation after the season ends. In my opinion, Iowa will have a big let down here, and will especially miss last year's starting quarterback Brad Banks and the four offensive line starters. Team chemistry was so strong last year at Iowa and they just kept it rolling. Banks was such a huge part of that chemistry. This is going to be a tough year for them to repeat and going up against this team will definitely prove we are correct. They have an extremely tough schedule and the "flat spot" theory is really obvious after coming off that Iowa State game. Don't let the line scare you, this one should be all Sun Devils.
Take: Arizona State
While many factors go into being a successful handicapper, I have found this system to be one of the best. In the next few weeks look ahead and try to find some of these situations. I think you will be pleasantly surprised how high of a percentage you will hit. As I mentioned earlier in the article, the big key is not to let the line sway you in your choice. Over the years I have had great success looking for these types of plays. I think with a lot of practice and hard work you will find some of the same success.
Best of luck,