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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 7:00 AM

The last time we were together, I gave you specific homework for each of this weekend’s college football conference championship games. In this resumption of my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping, we’re going to talk general big picture strategies that you should be applying to those games set for Friday night and Saturday.

I won’t ever post my official selections here in a web discussion. That’s not fair to my paying clients. My goal is to help you do-it-yourselfers make better choices. If you’d like additional help on game day, further assistance is always just a few clicks away.

First, I want to talk about THE MOTIVATION FACTOR. You might think at first blush that there’s no meaningful advantage in a championship game. Obviously all the teams are motivated to win their conference championship! But, I’ve found over the years that it doesn’t always work out that way.

*Some teams get a boost from REVENGE based on a regular season loss. Oregon is in the unique position of being a big favorite that lost the first meeting. Fresno State lost its first go-round with Boise State, and will get a second chance on the same field to beat the Broncos. Situations like this can allow “motivated” to become “super-motivated.”

*Some underdogs embrace an US-AGAINST-THE-WORLD mentality that carries them through the championship game. Georgia Tech may be that kind of team in the ACC this year. Nobody was giving them a shot several weeks ago. Now they will try to take out undefeated Florida State. Ohio State may be able to channel that energy knowing that they have to go all out with their backup quarterback. Arizona might have used that in their initial upset of Oregon in Eugene. Is there any left in the tank? Missouri has a chance to apply this factor as well. I’ll bet any underdog that pulls off an upset will talk about this in the postgame interviews. Can you figure out in advance which teams will benefit, if any?

*Some favorites get hurt by LOOK-AHEAD possibilities in the national championship race. This year’s tournament structure could prove quite the distraction for #1 Alabama, #2 Oregon (off-setting their revenge motive?), and #4 Florida State. College players tend to get starry eyed about what’s coming up soon, rather than focusing on the task at hand. Alabama and FSU both had shaky first halves last week before rallying to win. Alabama even rallied to cover. Will those victories cause ‘Bama and FSU to relax too much this week?

So, handicappers are actually dealing with some very complex MOTIVATION issues this week even though, technically, “everyone should be motivated” with a championship on the line.

You longtime students know that my main other point of emphasis is always PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS. Be sure you pay attention to that again this time around. Make the following major points of focus…

*The HEALTH of high impact players

*The number of high impact players on DEFENSE

*The tendency for this group of QB’s to make high impact mistakes

*Which stars will be helped playing indoors in Detroit, Atlanta, and Indianapolis

*Which stars will be hurt by playing on worn down NFL surfaces in Santa Clara and Charlotte

I can’t ever recall a season quite like this where so many highly regarded teams had erratic and mistake-prone quarterbacks! Alabama and FSU couldn’t stop throwing interceptions last week before settling their respective ships. Wisconsin has had uncertainly at the position all season. Oregon’s Marcos Mariota is a virtual shoe-in for the Heisman because he’s the only trustworthy quarterback. He’s also laying a huge price this weekend.

I love handicapping CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND because it’s really in my analytical wheelhouse. All the fundamentals I preach during the season come into play in dramatic fashion. And, those same fundamentals will apply to some of the games in the Big 12 and American Athletic Conference games that will be closing out the season for those leagues. A very exciting weekend is on tap on both the colleges and the pro’s. As I write this, there’s a good chance we’ll have at least one GAME OF THE YEAR caliber selection on the service.

You can always purchase BEST BETS from The Dean of Sports Handicapping right here at this very website with your major credit card. Questions about extended service can be answered personally by one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155. The month of December is a great month to try out combination packages that include early season basketball and the college bowls. I will do my best to make it a December to Remember!

I’ll be back with you early next week for our next class. I haven’t yet decided if the topic will be basketball or football. College football will go on hiatus until the first bowl games begin on Saturday December 20. That opens a window to talk hoops…which is a sport all of you should be taking advantage of in these early days. As always, I greatly appreciate your attendance and hard work. It’s humbling that this web feature has grown so large over the years.

Now…get to work!


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Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

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