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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, December 5, 2011 at 2:13 PM

The bowl matchups were just announced Sunday Night. If you’re like most football fans and Las Vegas sports bettors, you’ve already started perusing the lineup and making initial notes about the games. I believe these early hours after the announcements represent the perfect time to evaluate MOTIVATION for all teams headed to the postseason.

You have their season finales fresh in your mind, so you know who’s playing well and who lost their spirit weeks ago.

You can tell at a glance whether the game and locale is going to get the juices flowing for the teams involved.

You’re reading the daily headlines about coaches getting fired for teams who barely qualified for a bowl, or coaches getting hired away from the big success stories.

While this is all fresh in your mind…RIGHT NOW…you should go through and make notes on your schedule for every single game. One of the hallmarks of Advanced Handicapping for bowl games is an understanding of the role motivation plays in determining results. I don’t mean to suggest that talent, gamebreakers, size, speed, and other meaningful edges become irrelevant. They surely become less relevant for teams who could care less about their bowl game. And, on the other end of the spectrum, a talented team that’s also sky high emotionally can do amazing things. Motivation is a magnifier for better or worse in bowl games. Take time now to give this theme its just due.

Here’s a shortcut for making notes on your schedule…

*Put a check mark by any team that’s been playing very well to end the season. Bowl teams who end well often keep their good form and good spirits rolling right through their bowl appearance.

*Put a big X by any team that’s been playing poorly to end the season. Teams like this usually go to minor bowls in non-marquee cities. There’s just nothing that’s going to inspire a turnaround emotionally from a disappointing finish.

*Put a check mark by any team that’s clearly excited to be in a bowl. Maybe they won their season finale to qualify. Maybe they were expected to lose this year and a bowl appearance caps off a breakthrough season for the program. Whatever. If you follow the sport, it’s not hard to figure out who’s excited to be in a bowl game this year.

*Put a big X by any team that would consider their bowl appearance a step down from earlier expectations. There are usually a lot of these. Teams who thought of themselves as conference champs won’t get fired up for a mid-range or lower tier bowl. The list of disappointments is going to be very long this year in my view.

*Put a big question mark (?) by any team that’s in the news because of coaching developments. These teams are going to require further study. In my many years in the business, I’ve seen all sorts of extremes when there’s a coaching change. Some teams love the interim head coach and get fired up for him. Some teams hate that their beloved head coach was fired and they don’t bring any spirit. And, some of the best teams really lay eggs when their head coach gets hired up the ladder and leaves the program. They feel abandoned, and miss expectations in their bowl by one or two touchdowns. You’re going to need to do additional work with the question mark teams right up until the morning of kickoff to try to get a read on their mindset.

There will be games this year where this preliminary work is already enough to isolate some very strong big play opportunities. Of course, I still advise you to complete the full game handicapping process so you’re not getting gung-ho about a team with a soft defense or inexperienced quarterback. I’ll talk more about additional Advanced Handicapping strategies once we get closer to kickoff time for the full bowl campaign. I wanted to step in here today because this work on motivation is best done when the season finales are fresh in your mind.

The work you do TODAY will continue to pay off for the next month!

If you’re reading this online Monday afternoon, I hope you’ll join me here at the website for my Monday Night play in the San Diego-Jacksonville game. The next football pick will be Thursday in Cleveland-Pittsburgh on the NFL Network. Of course, I have basketball posted every night of the week for credit card purchase as well.

Be sure to check the home page of this website for video updates through the week. My next written lecture from my College of Advanced Handicapping is scheduled for this weekend. I greatly appreciate all off you taking time to consider and utilize my home study tips.

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