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Betting on Important Games

College Football Betting: Important Games

By Loot, College Football Handicapper,

In college football, not all games are the same to the players and coaching staffs. Sure, when LSU is playing Florida International, you'll hear all the right things in the press from players and coaches. But if you think their mental outlook for that game is anything like how they feel when facing Alabama--think again.

That's an example involving national powers, but even the lower-echelon teams are subject to this dynamic. There are a number of different types of games that give way to a variety of different mindsets. There is nothing the coaches or players can do about it. These types of things run in a player's DNA and you can't think your way out of it. They very well be trying as hard as they can for the lesser match-ups, but there are just certain games that get in your blood and give way to better form.

You need to gauge how important a game is to a certain team. For heavy favorites, motivation is the sticking point. If you have a nationally-ranked team against an obscure team from a weak conference, it's fair to wonder how pumped-up the favorite can really be. Especially if there is a big game the following week. Could they be looking ahead?

There is a different mindset when facing an opponent that makes you worry. Or a conference rival. You can sort of categorize the level of urgency that teams will bring into games. When the season schedule comes out for any team, you can go down the list and isolate the games they will really care about, the ones where they will be sort of focused, and the ones where they might phone it in. It won't always work out, but when trying to cover spreads, knowing the mental aspects doesn't hurt.

Teams usually play a little harder in conference games. And within those conference games are a few games with genuine rivals--teams with long-standing feuds. Players, coaches, and fans alike are at a different level for these occasions.

And look at the results. There can be good information that could lead to you making a better-informed pick. If a good team was upset on their home field, keep your eye on the next time they play. Or if a key player was injured on a borderline play, you know they'll remember that the next time they play. Revenge is a big factor. Coaches play on it.

And there are some feelings of resentment that need to be taken into consideration. Maybe a coach is facing a player who had verbally committed to his school, only to leave them high-and-dry at the last minute. A coach was maybe fired by a team he is now facing. Watch out for transferred players facing their old college teams. Or maybe a quarterback is facing a team starring his old high school nemesis who got all the attention. There are a lot of little personal tidbits that could really enhance a player or team's edge.

Even with bad teams, there are certain games where they can play above their heads. Look out for homecoming games or senior days. These teams also feel the sense of revenge and redemption. Sometimes they can't do much about it, but if a heavy underdog is playing with a little extra edge--that can sometimes be a very good play.


We need to also pay attention to where players stand. Is a running back struggling? Is a quarterback not getting the job done? Sometimes that's a bad sign. Poor performance is certainly not a cause for optimism. But players have a lot of pride. They came into college with big hopes. A lot of them are even entertaining ideas of one day playing in the NFL.

So when struggling players are on the endangered list, where a change is imminent, you will sometimes see those players find another gear. Expect a young man to scratch and claw his way to stay in the lineup. Remember that the lines are set according to the past performances. He might not turn it completely around, but if a key player can play a little better than normal, that could be a big edge against the spread.

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