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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, December 30, 2011 at 1:07 PM

I’ve been paying very close attention to how conferences are representing themselves in early bowl action. One of the fundamentals of Advanced Handicapping is that oddsmakers often misread the differences between one conference and another. If you can spot one of their errors early in the bowl schedule, it can help your performance in later games.

*Maybe you increase the number of units on a bet that already featured that conference.

*Maybe you go from passing a game to making a small play on a team from that conference.

*Maybe you back off a bet on an opposing conference and pass the game.

I don’t want to suggest that I would let conference strengths or weaknesses completely override my other methods. If a great team from a conference grades out well, I’m not going to back off a play just because lesser teams from that conference have struggled. But, I definitely take conference performances into account as part of my process. You should too.

The biggest news out of the gate has been the strong play of the Big 12. Heading into Friday afternoon’s Pinstripe Bowl in New York where Iowa State of the Big 12 was matched up against Rutgers of the Big East, we had these results:

*Missouri (-4) beat North Carolina 41-24

*Texas (-3) beat California 21-10

*Baylor (-9.5) beat Washington 67-56

That’s three wins, and three covers…with Missouri and Texas both having a relative stranglehold on their games in the second halves. I’ll admit Baylor was a bit lucky to cover. And, in Vegas terms they hit three 7s with 777 total yards! But, they did outgain their opponents by 157 yards and rushed for almost 500 yards in a mind-boggling display of offense. It was a win that spoke well of the Big 12 in terms of talent, led by the Heisman Trophy winner.

(UPDATE: Iowa State lost to Rutgers 27-13 Friday afternoon, suffering the first loss and non-cover for the Big 12 in bowl action)

Maybe those games are giving a false read, and bad outings are on the way. Maybe teams like Texas A&M and Oklahoma aren’t as fired up for their bowl appearances as Missouri and Texas were for theirs. For now, the market is underpricing the Big 12…and I’m going to monitor developments very closely before Oklahoma State faces Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl in a third meeting between the Big 12 and Pac 12.

Here are the games that are still ahead for Big 12 teams:

Oklahoma vs. Iowa (Friday night)

Texas A&M vs. Northwestern (early Saturday)

Oklahoma State vs. Stanford (late Monday)

Kansas State vs. Arkansas (Friday 1/6/12)

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the Pac 12 that’s 0-3 out of the gate in the bowl campaign. In addition to the two losses for Cal and Washington that I’ve already mentioned, Arizona State was routed by Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl. Is the Pac 12 going to be overpriced the whole way?

Ahead for the Pac 12:

Utah vs. Georgia Tech (early Saturday)

UCLA vs. Illinois (midday Saturday)

Oregon vs. Wisconsin (midday Monday in the Rose Bowl)

Stanford vs. Oklahoma State (late Monday in the Fiesta Bowl)

Quick thoughts on other conferences:


This conference is 2-1 straight up and ATS, but I wasn’t really impressed with wins by NC State and Florida State. They had good stretches and bad stretches. FSU barely got the money against Notre Dame. It’s probably best to think of the ACC as a coin flip conference right now, heading into performances by Wake Forest, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Clemson.


Louisville lost to NC State. Rutgers had an impressive result Friday afternoon in the Pinstripe Bowl. Cincinnati, West Virginia, and Pittsburgh play later in the schedule. I’ll admit that I’m not a big fan of the Big East this season, but I’ll stay open-minded until more results are in.


Iowa will be the first Big 10 team to take the field when they face Oklahoma Friday Night. You’ll be seeing A LOT of that conference between now and the Rose Bowl…so pay close attention to the early evidence.


Mississippi State will be the first SEC team to take the field when they face Wake Forest late Friday afternoon. Of course, they’ll be the LAST conference to take the field too when LSU faces Alabama in the BCS championship game. I’m interested to see if this conference is overrated or not once you get past the two superpowers. If they are, there will be plenty of opportunities to take advantage in the next few days.

This will be my last report on conference strengths before the schedule gets very intense. My College of Advanced Handicapping gives you material to work with…but it wont’ do the work for you! Be sure you’re studying the bowls at the conference level as the games play themselves out around the clock in the coming hours.

If you’re in need someone to make picks for you, I humbly suggest that KELSO STURGEON is the man for the job. You can purchase my selections every day right here at this website with your credit card. You can also sign up for the rest of football through the Super Bowl.

I’ll be back again for another installment from my College of Advanced Handicapping early next week. We have a lot to talk about in January with the NFL playoffs, the start of conference action in college hoops, and what’s already been a very entertaining start to the NBA season. Thanks for attending class today. I look forward to seeing you again in the very near future. Oh, be sure to check this website’s homepage for video updates regarding college and pro football through the New Year’s weekend. I’ll definitely be here face-to-face to wish you a Happy New Year online before the ball drops in Times Square.

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