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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, August 24, 2018 at 12:00 PM

If you’re only half-paying attention to the sports schedule, you may not be aware that college football starts this Saturday with a pair of games in my half of the country. Wyoming is a road favorite at New Mexico State in a game that’s been time changed to evening for ESPN2. Hawaii is a two-touchdown road underdog at Colorado State on CBS Sports Network.

Are you ready to pick those games? Are you ready to pick the games that will be played next week? The first full week of action runs from Thursday night through Labor Day evening. If you’ve been dragging your heels, it’s time to get up to speed.

We talked about handicapping college football earlier this summer here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping. I’m confident most of you have done that homework, and will be ready to go next week if not by tomorrow.

Do I have any homework to add to our prior coursework? I present the following new assignments.

*For teams who AREN’T returning their starting quarterback, track down media reports online for those teams. When the summer newsstand annuals came out, there was no way to know for sure who would be starting in many of those spots. Now, head coaches have made their decisions…or at least announced that two candidates will make their share of snaps.

There will definitely be some PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS in the mix of new starting quarterbacks, particularly at off-the-radar schools in the mid-majors. If you can get an early read on those, you’ll be way ahead of the oddsmakers. Not 1-2 points…possibly 1-2 touchdowns for a handful of talented newcomers. Again, you couldn’t do this work before…but you can do it NOW.

Also, keep in mind that any time a head coach goes with a senior who hasn’t started before, you’re likely to have a generic signal caller who lacks big play talent. True stars don’t have to stay on the bench that long! Prepare to fade these teams, or bet Under the total in their games.

*I’d also spend some time with the September schedules. You probably gave those a perfunctory look several weeks back. Now it’s time to really focus on how head coaches are likely to prioritize the early slate. Very few teams are talented enough to bring everything they’ve got…every week on the schedule. Some will get sky high for an important opener, then fall flat the next week. Some will be flat in the opener because a virtual bowl game is in Week Two.

Here’s what you should do. Spend a few moments with each team’s schedule. Put a star or an exclamation point or something by the most obvious high priority game or games. That helps create a short list immediately for possibilities to back them. Then put X’s or a downward arrow or something just before (unless it’s the season opener) and after that game to represent potential lookahead and letdown spots. Even though we’re dealing with young, energetic college kids, THE MOTIVATION FACTOR does loom large over September action. If you’ve already done similar work, refresh your memories. If you haven’t, be sure you devote time and energy to it this weekend. Understanding schedule dynamics is critical in every sport.

*Finally…and this is more advanced work that some of you may shy away from…try to build what I would call “turnover profiles” for each offense. One of the pot holes that trips up many casual bettors is that they love betting “high octane” offenses without realizing how turnover prone some of those teams can be. Sure, you may score 50 points some weeks. But, you also fail to cover some favorite prices because of too many turnovers in wins. And, those types of teams can really lay an egg when facing elite opponents because turnovers just kill them. Blowout city because that talented opponent keeps scoring cheap points on short fields.

Look at:

Giveaway totals from last season

Veteran quarterbacks’ interception counts

Giveaway tendencies for that style of offense (spread, run-based, etc…)

Experience and quality of the offensive line (huge “hidden” factor)

Weather for this week’s game

You should also assume troubles in this regard for any team starting a freshman quarterback. Make those young men PROVE to you they won’t turn the ball over. Never assume the best with the youngest players on the field.

Will weather be a factor at this time of year? Not in most spots. But, it never hurts to check for wind issues. And, thunderstorms are common at this time of year. Turnover-prone teams playing on wet fields should be avoided (or faded).

I’m going to have a busy weekend between the NFL dress rehearsals and possibilities in the two-game college slate. KELSO STURGEON’S top plays can always be purchased at this website by credit card. Questions about extended service and combination packages can be answered in the Vegas Sports Masters office by calling office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours.

I know you’re excited to have real football back on the betting board. The Dean of Sports Handicapping does his best to prepare you for the challenges ahead. I’m gratified that so many of you come back for the coursework autumn after autumn to sharpen and improve your approach. Handicapping is a real skill, not something you can fake with hunches and posturing. Anybody can sound impressive when talking football. Can you pick a winner? Can you beat the market? Thanks for the opportunity to teach you how.

Best of luck to you this weekend. See you again on Monday.

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