We’re in a dead zone in college football – the two week gap between the conference championship games and the first bowl games. There’s an even longer gap between the conference championships and bowl games that most people care about. There is lots of other sporting action to occupy your betting time during that gap, but smart football bettors will also use the time to prepare to dominate the bowl season. Here are six things college football handicappers can be doing to make the most of the time off:
Look for the games where you know both teams well – The logical starting point for your handicapping of the bowls is the games where you know both teams well. Those games will be the least work to handicap, and you’ll have the best sense of what the line should be so you’ll be positioned to capitalize on value before the public jumps on the games. With more than 30 bowl games to handicap you have to start somewhere, and this is as good a place as anywhere.
Look for games with motivation mismatches – Some teams set out at the start of the season with the goal of just playing in a bowl game – any bowl game. Maybe they haven’t been there before, or their talent level means that they are lucky to finish at .500 or better. These teams are going to be very happy to be in a bowl and they’ll play like it. Other college football teams enter the season with high expectations, but disappointments stack up and they end up in a lesser game. Those teams aren’t likely to be particularly excited by where they are at, and they may not perform at full level. Successful bowl bettors have to be psychologists as much as handicappers because motivation can be such a big factor. Spending the time to look for games where one team will be significantly more motivated than the other – especially if it isn’t so obvious that the public will be all over it – can be time very well spent.
Look for coaching changes that affect teams – Even teams that are bowl bound can experience some coaching turmoil between the end of the season and their bowl game. Some coaches resign or get fired. Some move on to other opportunities. It doesn’t have to be head coaches, either – key coordinators can be poached for head coaching jobs. Sometimes a change isn’t specifically made but it seems obvious that one will be after the bowl game – especially once the NFL jobs open up. Any time a team faces a change to a coach there is a chance that things won’t operate as well as they have up to this point. This is a good time to look at the coaching changes and assess when they will have a significant impact. Sports bettors will also want to consider times where the situation isn’t likely to have as much impact as the public will think that it will – those situations can be packed with value.
Look for games that are in-season rematches – Teams in the same division play each other twice a year in the NFL, but in college football rematches in the same season are extremely rare. Most years, though, there is a bowl game or two that is a rematch of a season meeting. Because those games are so unique they need special attention. It’s always a good idea to pick out these games and figure out just how to deal with them.
Prioritize the games – As a handicapper, you probably can’t give every bowl game equal attention, so now is a good time to prioritize them so that you can focus on the ones with the most potential first and then go down the ladder from there. How you prioritize them is up to you. I like to break them down in terms of how initially intriguing I find them as a betting opportunity – the more interested I am in a game, and the more my gut says there is potential, the more focused and effective my handicapping is likely to be.
Determine your bankroll and betting approach – I like to start the bowl season with a new bankroll instead of carrying over the regular season college football bankroll. The regular season is very different from bowls, so I have found this a better way to go. During this break, then, I will assess how big that bankroll is going to be, how many games I am looking to play, and the types of bets I would ideally pursue. These plans might change depending on how the bowl games go early on, but it’s a good starting point as far a sports betting is concerned.