So far this college football season we have already seen some truly demoralizing, soul crushing losses. I’m talking about games where a team goes in with high hopes, yet comes out trying to figure out how they lost by 20. Or 50. If the football team that gets blown out is a generally lousy team then it’s not that hard for bettor’s to deal with them going forward. It’s when a team seemed decent going into a game and then gets blown out, though, that really makes handicapper’s head hurt. How do college football handicappers deal with those teams next time out? Here are six questions to ask yourself as a football bettor when you face these situations:
Who was the opponent? – Any massive loss is humiliating and tough on a college team, but it’s easier for a team to cope with it and rebound when they know it’s coming. For example, when Duke signed up to play Alabama in the third week of the season they knew it wasn’t going to go well. The Blue Devils would be favored if it was basketball, but on the football field they are smaller, much slower, and far less talented. You don’t have to expect much of a negative impact from a loss like that, then. On the other hand, if, for some totally incomprehensible reason Duke had blown out Alabama then you might have expected a whole lot more backlash for the Tide in coming weeks then we will see for Duke.
Why did it happen? – If a team can put a finger on exactly why a big loss happened – and it’s something they can either fix or that they won’t face again – then a team isn’t going to be nearly as traumatized going forward than they would be if there was no clear reason why they lost. For example, though UConn was obviously frustrated and disappointed that they were no match for Michigan in their opener it was easy for them to figure out what had happened – Denard Robinson. The Michigan QB had a career day, and he just torched the Huskies. UConn isn’t going to face a lot of guys like Robinson in future weeks – because there aren’t a lot of guys like Robinson. That means that it isn’t an issue they have to worry about. UConn went out and laid on a beating of their own in week two.
Was it isolated or has it happened before? – When a big loss happens once because your opponent can exploit a particular weakness then you can get over it. If it happens more than once, though, and if the opponents are able to exploit the same weakness each time, the team is going to have a serious confidence issue surrounding that weakness. For example, if a college football team gives up 400 passing yards two games in a row and loses both badly then their confidence in their secondary will be non-existent, and problems can arise.
What was the mental state of team heading into game? – If a team wasn’t feeling particularly confident heading into a game then a bad loss might not be that much of a surprise, and sports bettors don’t have to read too much into it. On the other hand, if a team is talking and acting like they are feeling great before a game and they get blown out then you really need to take a close look at what happened, why it happened, and what it will mean going forward.
Does this matchup look like the last one? – If a college team is coming of a blowout loss then you need to look at whether the matchups were the issue as we said. Once you have done that the next logical step is to look at the matchup for the next game. Do the same problems exist? Or is the nest opponent a totally different style of team – one that the team matches up better against?
What is the team saying? – Athletes are notoriously hopeless when it comes to interviews – they usually stick to a script and say little with real meaning. When a football player is feeling more emotionally raw, though, they might say something more significant. You can read a lot into how a team is doing and what to think about their ability to rebound by listening closely to their post-game comments and interviews. Also, it’s very interesting to see of those comments change during the week. If a player is very negative after a game but more positive as the week goes along then the team is probably feeling okay and he has seen his attitude and optimism improve. On the other hand, if the comments remain negative and frustrated then the times around the team probably aren’t happy, and the rebound might not be impressive. Smart college football handicappers will be able to analyze these signs to help them make winning sports picks.