Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 5:00 PM
We’re not quite to the point where everyone is playing conference games in college football. But, you can tell from the schedules Thursday (where all three matchups are conference games), Friday (where both matchups are conference games), and Saturday (where league action is all over the place) that it’s time to transition your handicapping mindset to the challenge of analyzing high intensity matchups in the major and mid-major conferences.
Nobody is flat for their league opener!
You will see some ugly teams play well this week because they realize a “new season” is starting with the completion of their non-conference schedule. If they score an upset this week against a league foe, all is forgotten! Powers who are thinking about winning their conference and qualifying for the national championship tournament are definitely focused on getting the job done
Here are some keys that you regular students in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping should keep in mind this weekend…
MANY COACHES GET CONSERVATIVE
Most college coaches are conservative by nature anyway…choosing to “play NOT to lose” rather than playing to win. This is really exacerbated in high pressure situations. Nobody wants to lose their conference opener…particularly coaches who have high expectations from the alumni about this particular season. The coach has been thinking about this game all summer even if his players are just focused on their assignments and making plays through their first months of action.
Look for more rushing. Look for exchanges of punts in field position games. Look for teams with a lead trying to run out the clock in the fourth quarter. That means DOGS and UNDERS are slightly more likely to cash than you had probably been thinking. Some favorites will still get there if they have dynamic edges in PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS. The margin for error is less because of the coaching dynamics that are in play. (Also, be aware that weather influences like rain or high winds can make this particularly class of coach even more cautious)
MANY QUARTERBACKS GET NERVOUS
I already suggested that THE MOTIVATION FACTOR isn’t a differentiating element this week because everyone gets fired up for their conference openers. But, the CHOKE FACTOR definitely is a very important issue. If there are quarterbacks with a proven history of playing nervous in big games in prior seasons, or quarterbacks who have already been mistake prone in the first month of action, you definitely want to bet against them in their conference openers.
If butterflies started to go away for these kids in non-conference action, THEY’RE BACK! Things will calm down again next week or deeper into October. But, right now, you have to recognize how pressure impacts both head coaches and quarterbacks. Panicky quarterbacks will have early mistakes, then will throw interceptions as they frantically try to get their teams back in the game.
MANY HOME FIELDS BECOME STRONGER
If the coaches and players are focused on the excitement of a conference opener, you know that the local fans are too. Home field advantage can become stronger for certain programs, particularly home dogs facing a high profile opponent. Even lesser programs who might only get 1-2 points for home field normally will play to 3-4 points as a home dog in their conference opener.
And, a “blow-and-go” team performing for a coach who DOESN’T get conservative a quarterback who DOESN’T play nervously in big games can really run up the score in front of a crowd that laid the points! This is where you’ll see double digit favorites double the spread. That’s why it’s so important for you to know the long term histories of head coaches, and the recent “poise” histories of starting quarterbacks.
I can assure you that my college card this weekend will be heavily influenced by the factors we’ve discussed today. I’m not going to be any more specific than that. I trust that many of you hard working students can find those opportunities on your own. If you’d like additional assistance, you can purchase my daily BEST BETS right here at this very website with your major credit card. Questions about full season packages can be answered personally by one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155.
As I’ve hinted for awhile, the first web feature in October will concern the start of the Major League Baseball Playoffs. Most of our coursework involves football in the Fall. But, I do touch on the bases for the road to the Fall Classic. The Dean of Sports Handicapping will be back with you on Monday to lead that discussion. Thanks again for all of your hard work. Let’s go make some money!