College football fans are fickle. It only takes a couple of wins to start the season for people to start to get impressed by a team, and it only takes one loss for a football team to get forgotten about. Before you get too excited about a team after they have opened their season with two wins you need to really evaluate what they have done. If you let yourself get carried away by the hype after a couple of wins then you can find yourself making bets with lousy value. Here are six questions college football handicappers can ask to evaluate whether a team that starts 2-0 is legitimate or if they have yet to prove anything:
Who have they played? – This seems like it should be the most obvious factor of all, but I am consistently amazed by how the media will completely ignore it. They will praise a NCAA football team with a couple of flashy wins even though they have played truly lousy opponents. You see this in early Heisman watch articles, and in articles and stories about college teams as well. Before you give a team any credit at all for any wins you need to make sure that they actually deserve that credit. If a team just beat teams that they absolutely should have beat then they don’t get any credit. If they didn’t look particularly impressive beating the outmatched teams then you should be concerned, not impressed. It’s only if a team has nice wins against impressive teams that they really should grab some attention and your belief as a sports bettor.
Have they beaten different styles of teams? – Matchups are so important in college football. If a team has favorable matchups then they can beat a more talented team because they can keep them off guard, and vice versa. Because of that you need to not only look at the quality of the teams they have beaten so far, but the style of play of those teams. If they have beaten two teams that play a similar style then you can’t be impressed because you have yet to see how they can perform against other teams. You would be most impressed if the football team’s two wins came against squads with very different styles of play.
Have they handled adversity? – No matter how dominant a college team has been they have faced some adversity of some sort at some point in the season. It could be an injury to a player, a series of plays that didn’t go well, an interception in the red zone, a quick early score by the opponent, or any one of a number of things. Good teams are able to deal with adversity quickly and effectively. Bad teams aren’t. If the 2-0 team has faced adversity and shone then they are potentially worth respect. If they have struggled then you could have cause to be concerned when considering your next bet on their next game.
What is their schedule like? – It’s not just important to look at who the football team has beaten so far but also at who they have left to play. It would be far easier to get excited about a 2-0 team that doesn’t have harder games left to play than they have already played than it would be to get excited about one that has essentially played two exhibition games before getting into the meat of a tough college football schedule.
How well coached are they? – Coaching is very important in college football, so you really want to take a look at how well coached they are. You don’t just want to rely on the reputation and the media coverage of the head coach here. You need to do your own research to get a more meaningful assessment. Are they committing a lot of penalties? A team committing a lot of penalties isn’t a very disciplined team, and that can indicate coaching issues. Is the team improved in problem areas from the year before, or are they still struggling with the same problems? If they aren’t improved then the coaches could be at fault. The more signs of concern there are about the coaching staff the harder it should be to get excited about the team and what they have done so far.
What is the public thinking? – It’s very important to get a sense of how excited the betting public is about a college football team. The more excited they are the more they are going to bet on that team, and the bigger impact that will have on how lines are set, how they move, and where you can look for value. There are a number of good ways to get a sense of what the public is thinking – the amount of media coverage the team gets, whether they are ranked and how quickly they are climbing the rankings, whether a player is getting Heisman hype, whether they are drawing an unbalanced amount of betting action, and so on. Understanding the hype and how it affects betting trends and point spreads can mean a nice payday for the smart college football handicapper.