The day after the league championship games end in early December is a big day for college football bettors. That’s the day in which the bowl assignments are all announced and we know for sure which teams will be playing where. That’s also the first day that odds will be posted for those games. Smart bettors know that there can be some real opportunities when those odds are first posted, but only if you are prepared and know what to look for. Here are five things for college football handicappers to keep an eye out for when the bowls are first announced in order to spot the early value that can be found:
Games that appear to be mismatches – When the bowl pairings are set there are some that will appear to be mismatches based on the perception and reputations of the football teams involved. A lot of bettors will notice this and will never look at the games more closely than that – the opinion will stick. A very good opportunity can present itself in these situations, then. It is definitely worthwhile to look closely at these pairings to see if they are really as lopsided as they appear. If the perceived underdog is stronger than it seems then there could be some very attractive value in betting on it – especially if the mainstream media does little to suggest that the game isn’t one-sided. If the football game really is as much of a mismatch as it seems, though, then it could make sense to bet on the favorite early on because the line is very likely to move as the public money pours in on the favorite.
Teams that won’t be happy – There are going to be some college teams that are going to have their pride bruised because of their bowl assignment. It could be a team that was hoping to be a BCS team that didn’t make the cut as an at-large, a team that was picked behind other teams from their conference with worse records, or a high profile team that is stuck in a lower level bowl after a rough season. You need to be sure to avoid a very lazy mistake here, though – assuming that an upset team will play poorly. That’s what the public is likely to assume, but it isn’t always true. Sometimes a team will indeed quit because this happens, but other times they will use it as a motivating factor. Once you identify unhappy teams you need to look at the coach, the players, they way they have played this year, and how they have responded in the past to determine how they are likely to play, and what that means for the search for value. This can influence your football wagering.
Teams with coaching turmoil – Inevitably there will be several bowl teams with real coaching turmoil. There will be the teams that are playing for a lame duck coach, those that are playing with an interim coach because their coach has taken a new job, and those that have coached embroiled in rumors and speculation regarding other job openings. Each situation is different, and each team will respond differently. The trick for handicappers is to make the best guess about how different teams will respond. Who will be coaching? How have preparations been affected by the situation? Is the move popular or controversial? How has the team dealt with adversity in the past? Is it just the head coach that is affected, or have coordinators been impacted, too?
Good teams in spots people will ignore – There are a lot of bowls, and they fall during the holidays, so there are a lot that will inevitably get as much attention from the betting public as they probably should. What you want to look out for are the football games in which teams that you have liked all year, and which have performed well for bettors, are in spots that they likely aren’t going to get a lot of attention. The more ignored a team you like is, the better the chances of finding really attractive value when you bet on it.
Which games are on the same day – On several days during the bowl season there are multiple games played. In those cases there is often going to be one game that draws the bulk of the media and betting attention. Depending on your particular preferences that can preset an opportunity. If you like to bet underdogs in popular games then you’ll be drawn to the most popular game that day. If as a college football handicapper you prefer games with little public betting action then you’ll be drawn more to the less popular games.