Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Sunday, December 28, 2014 at 7:00 PM
All the blockbuster bowl and tournament matchups you’ve been waiting for are finally here. That makes NOW the perfect time to discuss how to handicap the major bowls in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping
Since these games MATTER (to most of the teams at least), and feature the best athletes in the country, we can start very safely with our fundamentals.
PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS
These are the players who will be covering spreads and winning bets for you. Be sure you’ve evaluated the high impact potential of all quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers. Look for mismatches and bet accordingly. Keep in mind that PLAYMAKERS are even more important in bowl games because head coaches tend to open things up. There are more trick plays…more gambles…and a concerted effort to get the ball in the hands of players most likely to make something happen. Know who those players are! Fade the teams who don’t have any.
THE MOTIVATION FACTOR
Even though we’ve now reached the showcase bowls, you will still find examples of teams who lack motivation. I’m going to be very careful here because I don’t want to tip my hand regarding possible releases on my service. Let’s look at last year. Alabama barely showed up in the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma and missed the spread by 31 points (!). Baylor decided they didn’t have to worry about Central Florida, and also lost outright as a big favorite.
Once you’ve found teams with advantages in the area of PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS, ask yourself:
*Are they happy, or disappointed to be in this bowl?
*Are they visiting a city that will excite, or demoralize them?
*Do they respect their opponent?
The absolute WORST favorites to take are those who were expecting to play in a better bowl a few weeks ago, and who have a tendency to get arrogant and overconfident at the drop of a hat. The BEST favorites to take are those who are excited about their game and want to send a message to the world about how great they are with a blowout victory.
The next biggest factor for bowl games is to study how the field and weather conditions will either help or hurt the team with more GAMEBREAKERS. There’s a HUGE difference between backing a high octane team indoors on artificial turf vs. outdoors in the mud when a steady drizzle is falling. Teams with no GAMEBREAKERS can still win and cover with defense in poor scoring conditions…but they have little chance in great weather.
I really want to emphasize this point because the best teams in the country have the best athletes in the country. When the best athletes in the country are fired up to play at peak intensity…in conditions that magnify their edges on everyone else…they can electrify a scoreboard.
Over the number of games left, be sure you do whatever it takes to find qualifiers based on these three categories. I can assure you that any GAME OF THE YEAR caliber selections from KELSO STURGEON will grade out well in all three. Study weather forecasts. Research turf/grass information in the stadiums you’re not familiar with. Find out what will speed up or slow down the PLAYMAKERS.
Before wrapping up today’s discussion, here are some factors you shouldn’t pay too much attention to.
*Small line moves: line value arguably matters much less in bowl games because so few games land near the number. You’ve seen that already. Most pointspreads are close to the vest, but we’ve had a lot of teams win by seven points or more (even underdogs). Maintain some respect for line value, but don’t be intimidated by it. You’re trying to find BLOWOUTS where the line won’t matter anyway.
*Teams who finished “hot”: There’s a tendency for some bettors to believe that “momentum” will carry over into a bowl. Sometimes, that does happen. But, the extended break could just as easily be a momentum breaker. The offense gets rusty. Too many players read press clippings about how great they’ve been playing. Teams underestimate opponents who didn’t close well. Focus on PLAYMAKERS and MOTIVATION, and don’t try to turn football into roulette. Football isn’t roulette, and betting “hot” streaks in roulette doesn’t work anyway.
*TV pundits: it seems like more nonsense is spouted during TV coverage of bowl games than at any other time. Every team is full of “stars” even if they went 7-5 against a weak schedule. Every bowl is prestigious. Every senior is emotional because his college career is coming to an end. Do your own work. Don’t be swayed by something anyone says on a studio show. You’d think there were 50 “Coach of the Year” winners this season based on what I’ve been hearing the past week.
If you’d like some assistance finalizing your portfolio this week, you can purchase daily BEST BETS 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. Be sure to ask about “rest of football” packages that go all the way through the Super Bowl.
The Dean of Sports Handicapping will be back with you on Friday to talk about handicapping Wildcard Weekend in the NFL Playoffs. Since we won’t meet on these pages until then, allow me to wish you a very Happy New Year and a prosperous 2015. Please celebrate (and bet!) responsibly!
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