When people set out to handicap college football games there are predictable factors that they look at – the quality of the offenses and defenses, the matchups, the head coaches, and so on. Those are obviously significant and relevant. They are also what most people will be doing. One of the ways you can get an edge in your handicapping is by considering factors that most other people aren’t. There are countless underrated factors in college football handicapping that you could look towards to find that edge. Here are five for you to consider:
Coordinators – Head coaches in college football are often rock stars. They get paid big money, they have high pressure positions, and their comings and goings are carefully watched and the source of much speculation. We generally spend far less time and effort looking at the assistants in college football, though. There are some high profile coordinators who get a lot of attention, but the vast majority of offensive and defensive coordinators operate in relative obscurity. While the changing of a head football coach will rarely escape attention a coordinator can change without making a lot of headlines. If the new coach brings a new scheme or approach with him, or if he generally prefers a different type of player or style of play, then the impact can be significant – especially early in the season. If the head coach has lost a coordinator he was comfortable with and now has to work with someone new then there will be a big adjustment required there as well. The potential for finding an edge here is particularly string at lower profile schools. People might not have noticed that the offense is likely to change significantly if they haven’t noted the change of coordinators at the college football level.
Strength coaches – In college football strength coaches are crucial. Football players come out of high school with juvenile bodies, and they don’t often have the knowledge of what they need to do to get strong and fit. A good strength coach will have the players ready for the start of the season after their summer workouts, and the players will be better prepared to give a top effort late in the season when less fit teams are hurting. It’s well worthwhile to get to know which teams have really good strength programs and which ones don’t. This can have a particular impact on the effectiveness of the freshmen that will be playing. You will also often see a significant step forward taken by a team that has gotten rid of an underachieving strength coach and replaced him with a new program, or a team that has invested significantly in their workout facilities.
Quality of kickers – In the NFL, the difference between the very best kicker and the worst often isn’t that significant in real terms. In college football the difference can be massive and that can affect your bets. Some teams can confidently kick field goals from 40 yards and further while others won’t feel any confidence kicking from 15 yards out. It’s actually quite shocking how bad some teams are at kicking the ball, and it is good for you to get to know which teams are the struggling ones and which ones have a strong leg to rely on. This can be a huge factor if a game is otherwise likely to be close.
Actual home field advantage – In the NFL the strength of home field advantage is more or less consistent. In college football the difference can be the equivalent of a field goal or more between the advantage of the team with the best fans and that of the team with the worst. Remember, the biggest reason there is a home field advantage is the impact the crowd can have on the officials and their decision making process. If the crowd is massive, knowledgeable and rowdy then they are going to have a significantly bigger advantage than they will if the crowd is small, disinterested, and quiet. Lazy bettors make general assumptions about the impact of home field advantage. Smart college football bettors look at the actual situation to understand what the actual impact is of the home stadium and if it could be more or less than people might expect.
Effect of travel – Travel is typically not a big factor in college football but it occasionally can be. Teams typically don’t make long road trips, and those that they do make are often against conference rivals that they play regularly. If a football team an unfamiliar trip that is beyond the range of what is normal, though, then they might feel a strong impact as a result. These players aren’t the seasoned travelers that the pros are. Of interest to college football bettors are games that are played well out of their own timezone, games played in particularly intimidating environments that the team isn’t used to, travel that was particularly onerous because of distance and the poor infrastructure, travel to challenging and unfamiliar climates, and so on.