The BCS bowls get more attention from the media and the betting public every year than the other bowls combined, even though there are only five BCS bowls and almost 30 other bowls. The betting public is understandably drawn to these games far more than the rest, as well. Whenever there is more betting interest in a particular game you can be sure that there are going to be more betting mistakes made as well. Here are five big mistakes for college football handicappers to avoid when betting on BCS bowls:
Ignoring assistant coach changes – It isn’t that common that head football coaches change before a BCS bowl game is played, though it can happen. It is very common, though, to see a coordinator or other assistant move on to another position before a BCS game, or to have accepted another job that they will leave for after the game. The logic is simple – BCS games feature the best teams in the country, so other programs would be drawn to hire the coaches that have brought the success to those programs. If a head coach leaves then the public will pay a lot of attention to what happened, but they will be far less aware in many cases if an assistant leaves. At a lot of schools, though, the assistants are just as important as the head coach because they are the ones who work with the players and call the plays. If an assistant is absent, or is present but has a split focus, then it can have a huge impact on how a game plays out. That impact can be particularly significant if there isn’t a strong replacement, or if the college coach left in controversial circumstances.
Paying too much attention to records or rankings – The worst thing you can do when handicapping BCS games is to buy into the endless amounts of hype. The record of a team is totally dependent on who they played and when and where they played them, so it can be very misleading. Rankings are based more on reputation and hype than on reality, so they aren’t always an accurate indicator of how teams match up, either. It is crucial that you base your decisions on what the football teams have to offer on the field, not what people are saying about them or on other misleading factors.
Ignoring basic matchups – The single most important factor in any football game is how the players on one team match up with the players on the other team – both in terms of physical skills and schemes. It only makes sense, then, that that would be the biggest factor as well in a BCS game. Too often, though, people overlook this basic truth in favor of other things – the opinions of talking heads, speculation about motivation, hype, which team will have more fans in the crowd, and so on.
Ignoring public action – The more attention a football game gets from the betting public, the more aware you have to be of how they are betting and what impact that has on how the lines are set and how they move. The public bets enthusiastically on big games, but they certainly don’t always bet objectively. They can be swayed by things like what the media is saying, which team has the flashier or more talented players, which team has the more explosive offense, or which squad has the more established history and comes from the more prestigious conference. When the sports betting public is likely to be heavily on the side of one team oddsmakers will set the line to make that team less attractive, and the lines may move to attempt to balance the action somewhat. That can make it challenging for a serious college football handicapper to find value on the public team – at least more challenging than it otherwise would be – but it can also make it easier than usual to find value on the less popular team. If you aren’t aware of the public betting tendencies then you could find yourself making bets and accepting odds that don’t suit you.
Overthinking significance of BCS – The BCS games get a lot of attention, and college football teams fight all year to get into them. Ultimately, though, they are just football games like the hundreds of other football games that have come before them during the season. Successful football bettors will know what they have to do to pick the winner in any other game – the stats they need to pay attention to, the factors they need to consider, the players and coaches they need to focus on, and so on. Those are still largely the factors that matter in the BCS bowls as well. If in your college football handicapping you try to pick winners while ignoring what has worked in the past then you are not likely to succeed.