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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Sunday, December 27, 2015 at 4:00 PM

As we start the second big week of bowl action…the week EVERYONE has been waiting for because it includes the Final Four and all the big New Year’s Day games…this seems like the perfect time to review and evaluate what’s happened so far.

I’m very pleased that my big plays have been winning. Just a tune-up for what’s coming up this week! So far, games rated 50-units and up…

100-units: Nebraska (+6.5) beat UCLA outright 37-29

50-units: San Jose State (-1) beat Georgia State 27-16

50-units: Western Michigan (-4) beat Middle Tennessee State 45-31

Your lines may have varied depending on when you bet the game. I was bucking the market in a couple of spots. CORRECTLY! At those prices, all three were double digit covers. Can’t ask for better than that on your biggest releases.

With lower-rated games…it’s been choppier waters. You just never know for sure who’s going to show up and play hard in every single game. You take your best guesses and hope the percentages work out for you over the long haul. Plenty of margin for error when your top plays are up 200 units in the first week!

In terms of on-field performance, I have to say I’m most surprised by the 0-5 start for the American Athletic Conference. It’s true that they were mostly underdogs in early action. But, the record is just 2-3 against the spread. Cincinnati no-showed in Hawaii against San Diego State. Temple was very unimpressive in their loss as a favorite over Toledo. South Florida allowed over 600 yards in a loss to Western Kentucky.

Even the two covers weren’t that impressive. Connecticut barely got there despite scoring only 10 points (on 213 yards) against Marshall. Tulsa did play a thriller vs. Virginia Tech, but allowed almost 600 yards to a horrible offense in the process.

Here are the remaining AAC teams in action…

*Navy plays Pittsburgh Monday in the Military Bowl

*Memphis plays Auburn Wednesday in the Birmingham Bowl

*Houston plays Florida State Thursday afternoon in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl

Let’s see if the league’s elite can turn the tide.

I won’t run through all the conferences. You should be doing that already. Do your own homework! I will say that I’m impressed with the Mountain West. Boise State looked awesome in absolutely crushing Northern Illinois. San Diego State did the league proud as conference champs with that blowout of Cincinnati in Hawaii. You know I had San Jose State as my first big play. Through five games, the Mountain West is 3-2 straight up and 4-1 ATS (also a cover for New Mexico as a big dog, but a poor outing as a favorite for Utah State).

Your homework for the bowls at this relative midpoint…

*Break down the results (straight up and ATS) by conferences

*Set up an active “conference standings” page you can update on the fly

*Read the boxscores so you know what “really” happened in each game

*Notice what’s happening to soft defenses (very important!)

*Make sure you know of player suspensions in coming matchups

We can’t lose sight of our fundamentals…PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS along with THE MOTIVATION FACTOR. I trust you’ve done well thought out preliminary work there. That additional homework might help you realize which conferences have more or fewer PLAYMAKERS than you had realized. The boxscore review will help you understand what happens when teams don’t show up…or when soft defenses face potent attacks who have had a few weeks to get ready!

Most handicappers…and I’m assuming that many of you fall into this category…have already mapped out initial plans for the rest of the bowls. You’re not waiting until game day to consider OU/Clemson and Alabama/Michigan State in the Final Four, or Ohio State/Notre Dame on New Year’s. Today’s homework will help you tweak those initial opinions. At the very least, your unit ratings may change. Maybe you’ll go from “liking” a team to “loving” them. Maybe you’ll go from a lean to a play. Or, maybe it will work in reverse…and a team you had penciled in for a 50-unit type investment falls back to 15 or 25-units.

Wining handicappers never stop learning. The nature of the bowl schedule lets you learn throughout. Take advantage!

If you’d like some help pinning down the best investments on the board, KELSO STURGEON’S best bets can always be purchased right here at the website with your credit card. Questions about extended service and combination packages can be answered in the Vegas Sports Masters’ office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155. If you’ve been struggling on your own, I think you’ll be pleased with my combination package that takes you through the college championship and the NFL Super Bowl.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping will be back with you in a few days to talk about the National Semifinals and the New Year’s Bowls. Then, over the weekend, we’ll talk about the particular challenges of Week 17 in the NFL. It’s a great week to be a football fan and a Las Vegas sports bettor! Thanks for you attendance. See you again midweek.


Be sure to follow:

Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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