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Betting on Teams That are Due

College Football Handicapping: Betting on Teams Being Due

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper,

When handicapping college football games, a ton of different factors enter the equation. We watch the games, look at numbers, study the line, and look for edges. Sometimes, however, a different form of observation enters the equation: our sense of “feel.” We can look at all the hard data we want, but sometimes we are overtaken by a more visceral element--a little voice telling us a team is “due.”

We have all seen this happen in our own wagers. Our pick seems solid, then a team’s performance is way outside its normal range. We might have had a voice telling us that would happen, but we ignored it because all the hard info was pointing to a cover. If this happens enough, we start to pay more heed to that little voice.

Not all bad teams are the same. A lot of bad teams have truly earned that billing, while others have just caught one bad break after the next. Every year, there is a 5-7 team sitting at home in the postseason that easily could have made a bowl game if not for a few different twists. In other words, look in between the lines a little bit. Don’t let a team’s record tell you if they’re good or close to being a good team.

When a team seems to be in the dumps, take a closer look. Are the games close? Is a 1-3 team a few weird holding calls and a quirky special teams play away from being 3-1? Has a team been getting snake-bitten--with tipped passes, bad calls, and uncharacteristic miscues spoiling the games? Any number of things can stop a good team’s season in its tracks.

If the lines come out and the snake-bitten losing team is being regarded as simply another bad team with no allowances made for how the team has been losing, you can find some good spots. Many times, the public’s interest in a team is equivalent to a team’s won-loss record. A team with a 2-6 record is considered to be bad-- simple as that. In some situations, a team is a lot better than their record suggests.

The exact same thing applies to some winning teams. They always get a call to keep drives alive. They always seems to get the deflection and the ball just generally bounces in their direction. That type of mojo could keep going or it can all end. Real skills hold up, good bounces don’t. And usually by the time you notice a pattern, it’s close to ending. Not all winning teams are legit. Winning is winning, but the stars just might have just been lining up right lately and when it ends, you’ll wish you were paying attention.

You’ll know it when you see it. The box scores won’t tell the story. You’ve seen teams with precarious holds on success--depending on things that simply aren’t going to happen every week. The teams they’ve been playing have been flatter than normal. They have been converting unlikely 3rd downs on carnival plays and penalties. Normally-sure-handed receivers on the opposing team are dropping touchdown passes. Kickers are yanking 25-yard field goal attempts. Failed 3rd down pass plays are bailed out by suspect pass-interference calls. A team like that might be over-valued by the point-spread and when the stars stop lining up so well, you can cover some spreads against them.

Sometimes it won’t be so obvious. You don’t see a pattern of a team catching undue breaks to get over, yet you still have a feeling that a reversal of form is about to take place. We don’t want to disregard all our handicapping to sign off on a feeling that might or might not be just the typical pangs of hesitation associated with making a bet. With more experience, you will be able to tell the difference and when you smell something truly fishy in the air--it gives you pause before going against it.

In college football betting, things will constantly happen in games that defy any reasonable handicapping. There will be simply no way to predict it because the game was won for reasons that exist on another realm of reason that normal handicapping doesn’t include. Sometimes, you will actually be able to key-in on it. It was something you felt--it defied explanation. It’s like when you walk into your house and something’s wrong. You don’t know why yet, but you just sense something is askew. When you get that feeling as you are about to wager on a college football game, think twice.

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