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College Football Injuries

Handicapping College Football Injuries

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

It’s important to know about the impact of injuries for teams you are betting on and against in college football. It used to not be a very easy proposition. Your local newspaper probably didn’t have very detailed reports on how banged-up UTEP’s secondary was. With the Internet, you have access to a plethora of reports on injuries--thorough injury reports and links galore to local newspapers who pay close attention to teams you otherwise do not hear much about.

After getting the scoop on the injury situation, it’s time to make sense of it all. It’s a fickle topic, especially considering all the kids we’re dealing with. Players in pro ball have a researchable resume. In college ball, what are you going to do--scour the web for high school footage of an offensive lineman? It can be quite dicey trying to get a handle on it.

The position most people focus on is the quarterback and rightly so. A change at that position can really change the whole complexion of a team. But when a team loses a QB to injury, take a close look. Was there a good case that the back-up should have been starting in the first place? How was the offense doing with the starter that was playing? And with college quarterbacks, their high school history is a little easier to comprehend. Maybe the kid coming in is a budding star looking for an opportunity to break out or perhaps not. Find out.

Unless a QB was a pivotal part of a team’s success, a change isn’t always a bad thing. Often times, you see them plug a new kid in there and the offense gets a little wind in its sails. A lot of big-time college quarterbacks get their start this way. The tendency is to assume a team, even a bad one, will be diminished without their starting QB and it isn’t always the case.

Tip: Something else you should be handicapping is price and lines. Not all sportsbooks are created equal. Did you know that you only have to lay -105 odds (instead of the standard -110) at 5Dimes Sportsbook? You should also have multiple online sportsbooks because many companies offer opinionated lines. A spread may be +3 at one book and +4 at another. Always wagering on the best point spread will add 2-3% onto your winning percentage each year and may be the difference between winning and losing! If you're gonna do it, do it right!

Then you have the more-visible positions like RB and WR. injuries in this area should also be treated with discretion. Losing a hot running back is never a good thing. But there are teams who have running backs with big numbers every single year. There is probably at least one guy waiting in the wings who might produce almost as well. Then again, he might have already had a chance and fallen short. This is why merely looking at the injury report is not enough. You need to delve.

Don’t blow off injuries on bad or obscure teams. You might see a bad team missing some key guys and figure the new guys can’t be much worse. Well, they can be and a team that normally loses by 21 is now losing by 35. And we might sometimes place more importance on an injury with a Big-12 team than a team from a lower-end conference. But it’s all relative. A Conference-USA team losing a key lineman will resonate about the same.

And don’t forget to take note of the less-glamorous positions. Losing guys on the O-line can really throw a wrench into a team’s offense. A lot of times, the back-up will be an unknown quantity or a replaced starter who wasn’t getting it done. When a college team loses its center, take note. A quarterback might be grooving nicely with a guy he’s been working with for a long time and it might not click right away with the 18-year old center from Steubenville.

When betting on college football, some bettors like to get an early jump on the point-spread. There can be great value with the opening line, which makes waiting until the last minute the wrong move. But with key injuries, waiting might be the ticket. It can really sting to have taken a position on a game early, only to watch the game and see that a bunch of key players are missing. Take a close look at the injury list and determine if the injuries are key enough to affect the game. Is it a middle-linebacker who wasn’t doing so hot anyway? Or is it a shutdown corner with a freshman back-up?

Sometimes you won’t know until very late. It can also be difficult to ascertain information like whether Central Michigan’s running back is a go or not. A good guideline is to put in the work to find out as much as you can and if a big question mark looms over a game, there are other games to bet.

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