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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Sunday, January 11, 2015 at 4:00 PM

The much anticipated college football National Championship game will be played Monday Night in Arlington, Texas. The Oregon Ducks…a team that’s been on the short list of potential champions all season...are favored to beat the Ohio State Buckeyes…a team that seemingly had no chance to play for a title after losing early in the season to Virginia Tech.

The brand new format allowed Ohio State, and possibly BOTH of these teams to play for the title given that the old format probably would have had undefeated defending champion Florida State facing Power Ratings darling Alabama. Monday’s finalists beat those teams…so we have a battle of excellence featuring two sides who are playing the best football in the country right now.

How do you handicap a game like this? I’m not going to post my selection because that wouldn’t be fair to paying customers. But, today’s coursework in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping should allow you to find an approach that puts the percentages in favor. (If not, it’s easy and affordable to bet what KELSO STURGEON’S betting!)

 

PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS

Oregon has the single best PLAYMAKER in the nation with Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. That was a deserved award. He might have won last year if he wasn’t dealing with injuries. Mariota mostly stayed healthy this season, and was an unstoppable force. Of course, Oregon has a lot more than just one GAMEBREAKER. They have a fleet of wide receivers (though their #2 man in yardage won’t be in uniform because he was suspended for flunking a drug test). They have running backs who find openings against spread out defenses. Be sure you’re aware of all the weapons Oregon brings to the table.

Ohio State has been extremely productive on offense this season as well. Be sure you know how they did it. Focus particularly on their most important games leading up to this (wins over Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Alabama). The players who made impacts there will certainly be getting the call again from head coach Urban Meyer. The media is spending a lot of time on the Cinderella story of third string quarterback Cardale Jones. Be sure you know who he’s been throwing to, and who he’s been handing off to since taking over the quarterback position.

Once you have your lists ready…take the next step of determining how those PLAYMAKERS match up against their opposing defenses. These defenses aren’t equal. You need to account for that as you make your final assessments.

 

THE MOTIVATION FACTOR

Both teams are obviously going to be sky high. Perhaps I should change the name of this regular feature of my approach to THE NERVOUSNESS FACTOR. I believe that one of these teams is going to have some uncharacteristic miscues (at least according to recent form) because the pressure of the moment is going to get to them. Now, don’t try to read my mind here. This could just as easily be the favorite as the underdog. The pressure is on Oregon to finally come through for the university. They didn’t hit on all cylinders until the second half vs. Florida State, and they won’t have the same margin for error here. Of course, Cardale Jones could wake up and feel the pressure at any moment himself. Spend some time thinking about how “intangibles” are most likely to affect Monday’s outcome. This Vegas pointspread could be off by more than a touchdown in either direction because of the way “intangibles” could manifest themselves on the scoreboard.

 

THE MARKETPLACE

This pointspread has generally been falling since first going up on the board. But the fact that Ohio State was a smart bet at +7.5 before an Oregon receiver was suspended doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a smart bet percentage-wise at the lower number you’re seeing today. The fan base of the Buckeyes is known to support their team with enthusiasm in Las Vegas regardless of price. Oregon doesn’t have quite the same longterm history. The line is dropping because of public betting rather than a consensus of “people who matter” about how the game is going to go. I know the people who matter. I’m one of the people who matter and my influence hasn’t hit the board yet!

My point here is that YOU need to bet based on the side and total lines you’re seeing right now. Don’t worry about what they used to be. Don’t worry about what “the public” is doing. There are “squares” on both sides of this game because “squares” have been winning big money with these teams in recent weeks. Focus on proven keys and make smart picks.

My championship releases (side/total/parlay) will go up Monday several hours before kickoff. You’ll be able to purchase them 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. Call during normal office hours Monday. With football winding down (only four more games left!), this is a great time to ask about basketball.

I’ll be back with you later this week to talk about handicapping Championship Weekend in the NFL Playoffs. The #1 seeds will be home favorites…but are far from sure things to advance to the Super Bowl. We’ll talk about that in a few days.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping greatly appreciates your regular attendance and hard work. Everything you’ve been doing all season has prepared you for these championship challenges!

 

Be sure to follow:

Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

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