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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, December 31, 2018 at 12:00 PM

If you’re trying to pick winners in college football bowl games played on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, getting a read on the SEC is of vital performance. Even though they’ve already made several appearances, the SEC is all over the remaining card.

Early results:

Vanderbilt (-3.5) lost to Baylor 45-38

Auburn (-3.5) pounded Purdue 63-14

Florida (+4) mauled Michigan 41-15

South Carolina (-3.5) lost to Virginia 28-0

Alabama (-14.5) only beat Oklahoma 45-34

That’s 3-2 straight up, but 2-3 ATS because Alabama couldn’t fully protect an early 28-0 lead in the Orange Bowl. Well, they protected it enough to advance to the National Championship against Clemson, but not enough to protect bettors.

The two wins were extremely impressive. Auburn covered by 45.5 points even though the Tigers called off the dogs in the second half. Florida covered by 30 points even though it supposedly had no chance to score points on Michigan’s vaunted defense. Amazing how far Jim Harbaugh’s stock has fallen in terms of NFL interest in his coaching after the Ohio State and Florida debacles.

Vanderbilt and South Carolina were from the more mediocre midsection of the SEC, and were overpriced when it was all said and done. Both lost yardage stats by quite a bit despite being favored.

Perhaps that’s a guide for what’s left. Respect the top power-rated teams in the SEC, but be wary of the mediocre middle. Here are the remaining games, with the SEC team listed first…

Monday: Missouri vs. Oklahoma State

Monday: Texas A&M vs. NC State

Tuesday: Mississippi State vs. Iowa

Tuesday: Kentucky vs. Penn State

Tuesday: LSU vs. Central Florida

Tuesday: Georgia vs. Texas

I’m not going to get any more specific because I need to protect the information given to my paying clients. I will recap more of what I learned from games played since the last time we were together. I hope all of you students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting have been scouting those games and reading all the box scores afterward.

*The point of attack is still important, but rushing advantages can be trumped by turnovers or soft pass defense. Iowa State lost to Washington State despite winning rushing yards 200-28 because it allowed 299 passing yards and turned the ball over three times (still a cover for the Cyclones!), West Virginia outrushed Syracuse but allowed 303 passing yards. Arkansas State won rushing easily over Nevada, but had a million other mistakes including three turnovers and three failed fourth down conversions. Handicappers must try to incorporate risk/reward dynamics as best they can.

*The ability to throw the ball accurately downfield is a lost art. That means…any team that can still do it will win big and cash your tickets! If you’ve been watching a lot of bowls, you can see why there aren’t many quarterbacks creating NFL buzz. Limited accuracy beyond 5-10 yards downfield. Too many interceptions because defensive secondaries are coming up into the high strike areas. And, of course, difficulty cashing in red zone opportunities because of inexperience. Teams who know what they’re doing in this regard can crush teams who don’t. There have been a lot of bowl crushes!

*I wouldn’t say that “the market doesn’t matter.” But, handicappers who spent too much time worrying about the nuances of point spreads sure could have used that time better. The straight up winner has covered every bowl but Georgia Southern/Eastern Michigan, Iowa State/Washington State, and Alabama/Oklahoma. That’s 24 games out of 27 where the winning team covered. Nobody in the media is asking “How do those oddsmakers do it” regarding games landing near the point spread. Not many are! Double-digit covers have much more common. Bowls are volatile betting propositions. You need to try to recognize the keys that could put that volatility in your favor.

*I trust you’re seeing the value of studying PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS thus far in all the bowl telecasts. The era of “dink and dunk” actually makes this more important, because it’s the PLAYMAKERS who bust those short passes into long runs. Everybody can throw those little outs and slants, particularly against defenses sitting back protecting against the big play. The offenses that can evade tacklers and sprint through the secondary are the ones posting big victory margins. Sometimes that’s an underdog.

Best of luck to you do-it-yourselfers who are going it alone through this last batch of bowls. If you’d like additional help, 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 my office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours.

I’m very confident of the client plays I have posted for Monday and Tuesday. I’m already locked in on my NFL Wildcard Weekend selections, though I need to monitor line moves and injury news before posting those later in the week. And, of course, the Alabama/Clemson game coming up next Monday is likely to trigger a very big release, and possibly a big parlay. I know how important that game is to bettors who want to close out the college season on a winning note.

While it’s sad that football is winding down…it’s still a great time to be a football bettor.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping greatly appreciates your attendance and hard work during this holiday stretch. I’ll be back Friday to preview the NFL, and Monday to talk analytics for ‘Bama/Clemson. We’ll soon be transitioning to more basketball coverage. That isn’t likely to happen until a week from Monday because of all the important football still ahead. Given all the strong college basketball teams this season, the Road to March Madness is going to be very fun to bet!

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