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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 8:00 AM

The last time we were together, I talked about some of the early steps sports bettors must take as they prepare for the bowl games that begin this Saturday. In short, readers were advised to count up PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS for each team, to monitor news on injuries and suspensions, and to stay on top of the coaching carousel that seems to spin faster with each passing day.

Outside of athletic advantages, the MOTIVATION FACTOR is the most important thing you must evaluate for every game. Some would argue it’s at the very top of the list because unmotivated athletes aren’t going to win your bets for you. Personally, I want the combination of tangibles and intangibles before I consider putting 50-units, 100-units, or 200-units on a bowl game.

We talked about how coaching changes can influence motivation last time. Here are other keys to consider when evaluating a team’s mindset.

*Is the team happy to be in this bowl, or disappointed about being in this bowl? Every college postseason features some motivational mismatches where an unheralded team is excited to be in a lower run or mid-level bowl because it’s a new experience…and they’re matched up against a bigger name team that’s disappointed to be in that exact same spot. This is at the heart of bowl upsets! If you follow college football closely, it’s not hard to make the right determinations. I advise you right now to put a big PLUS sign in your schedules by every team who’s excited about their bowl (maybe two plusses for some teams), and a big MINUS sign in your schedules by any team that is likely disappointed about where they ended up.

*Did the team use up its emotion in a dramatic regular season finale or conference championship game? I don’t like asking teams who just won a huge emotional game against a bitter rival, or who otherwise scored a big upset at peak intensity to play well for me in a bowl. Well, maybe for a 5-Unit or 10-Unit play if there are other indicators pointing their direction. It’s much better in my view to have a team that’s gearing toward THIS game than one who was gearing toward their prior game. I think many public bettors make the mistake of overreacting to regular season finales. They’re constantly disappointed when a team that looked so great in their last game comes out flat in a bowl. Learn to expect flat efforts!

*Does the team have a lot of seniors at skill positions and on the offensive line? This is the college career finale for seniors, who would like to go out on a high note. Sometimes younger players are just happy to get to a bowl, and they get distracted by the pre-game festivities (both official and unofficial). Seniors have much more perspective on what it all means. They will be focused and motivated to win in impressive fashion.

If you’re lucky, you can find some harmonic convergence possibilities where senior heavy teams, who didn’t use up all of their motivation in their last game, and are excited to be in this particular bowl, will be playing for their regular coaches instead of an interim coach, against an opponent that lacks motivation. This is where your BET OF THE YEAR possibilities will come from. This is not something you should wait to figure out on game day. Get to work now!

I’ll talk more about bowl preparation this week in my College of Advanced Handicapping. My bowl package is affordably priced if you’d like some help finding the best plays on the board through the postseason. You can also purchase my top plays daily online with your major credit card.

If you missed my first article on bowl preparation, you can read it right here in its entirety. See you again soon.  

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