One of the challenging things that football bettors – and especially college football bettors because it is so common – have to deal with is very large point spreads in games. In college football it’s not uncommon to see spreads of four touchdowns or more in a game. When you see a game like that it is very clear who is likely to win, and in most cases you are fairly certain that the favorite could win by more than the spread if they wanted to. The trick is trying to figure out if they really will want to. In some cases college football teams won’t quit until the final whistle, while other times they will become content after they have a big lead and focusing on staying healthy and getting ready for their next challenges. NCAA handicappers need to apply a different set of skills to handicapping these games than they would to games in which the football teams are better matched. Here are six factors to consider in your college football handicapping when determining whether a team will be likely to cover a monster spread:
Does the team need a huge win for credibility? – Even at the beginning of a season college football teams have the postseason on their minds. They aren’t looking past the game at hand, but they are focused on what they need to do to make themselves attractive for the best possible bowl games down the road. For teams on the fringes – like teams outside of BCS conferences, or teams in major conferences that don’t have a strong reputation – they not only need to win, but ideally win decisively in ways that will impress viewers and make people think that they are worthy of attention. Playing against top level opponents is the best way to gain this credibility. When they can’t do that, though, they need to beat up on weaklings. That can lead to them being highly motivated to score as many points as they can, and to maintain intensity until the end of the game, which can affect your spread bet.
Pace of play – When trying to figure out if a team can win big you need to spend some time thinking about what the pace of play is likely to be. If both football teams like to be slow and methodical – running the ball often, and using up a lot of the clock on each play – then it is going to be hard to score a ton of points to cover a huge spread. In short, you have to make sure that the team is going to be able to get the ball a lot, and to score reasonably efficiently once they do get it, before you trust them to cover a very large spread.
How strong are the backups? – The strength of the backups at key positions – quarterback being at the top of the list – can have a huge impact on whether a team will cover a big spread. Ironically, this is more of a concern the better the starters are. If the starters are dramatically better than the backups then coaches could be nervous about what would happen if that player was hurt. That means that they would likely be looking to get their backup as much game experience as they can, so as soon as the game is in hand they will make the switch. That will almost certainly slow down the offensive production and will make it harder to cover the spread. If the starter isn’t particularly strong, though, or he is learning a new system, then he is more likely to stay in the game longer, and the offense is more likely to continue working at the same level as it did at the start of the game.
How well do they handle big spreads? – The best way to get clues about how a team will do against a big point spread is to look back at how they have done against big spreads in the past. If the team has regularly faced big spreads in the past and has been fairly successful against them then you might have faith in them here. If they rarely face these spreads, though, or if they have not covered those spreads consistently, then it might not be as easy to be confident in your spread bet.
Is the underdog getting enough respect? – There are two football teams in every game, so you need to consider both equally when looking at these games. Is the underdog as bad as the line would suggest they are? How are they playing recently? Do they have players who are growing and improving significantly in recent games? How have they done when facing massive spreads? Can they offer matchups that will challenge the favorites and make covering the spread more difficult?
What are the conditions of the game likely to be? – This is where you get to play amateur meteorologist. Poor weather conditions – like rain, cold, wind or snow – can impact the ability of a college football team to perform at their best, and can make it harder for them to realize their scoring potential. Use this ats tips in college football handicapping.