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Wagering on College Bowl Games

NCAA Football Betting: Wagering on College Bowl Games

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

When we approach bowl season, we are forced to make a few adjustments. For the betting man, it is just another game--an opportunity to beat the bookie and notch a winning wager. For the players and coaches of these teams, the paradigm shifts and sometimes quite dramatically. Let’s look at some of the factors we face in bowl games that don’t exist in the regular season.

The dynamic of a bowl game is vastly different than the games these players are used to playing. Experience can be a major factor. There is more time between games, as many bowl games are played weeks after a teams’ final regular season contest. There are luncheons, functions, and visits around town. Time can be an enemy to a team and having prior bowl experience can be important.

Then again, teams that are not used to being in bowl games can also be dangerous. What they lack in experience they make up for by the sheer excitement of finally making it to a bowl game. A team like that might be taking the game more seriously than a team that is actually disheartened for being in such a low-profile bowl game. Perception is everything.

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It’s all about expectations. Making the GoDaddy.com Bowl might be a bummer for a top team. For a team with minimal glory in their history, even a lowly bowl is a boon. There might be some of that “we’re just happy to be here” mojo, but the chances are that they will be in higher spirits than the team that was hoping to get into a BCS bowl and had to settle for a far lower-end game than what they wanted.

Look at how teams perform when out of their conference. You can only glean so much from a team’s conference play, especially if those teams are generally worse than the one they will be playing in a bowl game. A team may have done well against its own conference, but games against other teams may have been even more revealing and will allow you to form insights that you won’t be able to make by exclusively analyzing in-conference results.

While you won’t find this to be the case with most bowl games, sometimes a team with marginal popularity faces a team with a gigantic national following. When the contrast is very stark, look for good spots with the less-heralded team. If one team has a much larger following, that will be represented at the betting window. If you were a bookie and setting a spread for, say, a Texas vs. Tulsa bowl game, you would know that the Texas money would outweigh anything Tulsa’s supporters can bring to the table. Therefore, the line would be made in the spirit of alluring Tulsa money. That equals good value on the lesser-known teams.

The explosion of bowl games has given bettors a challenge. You see teams now playing each other in bowl games that have no connection and may have never faced each other before. They may have no common opponents. It sometimes seems so random, that it becomes difficult to make sense of it all. One thing to keep in mind is that there are so many bowl games, that not every team you see will necessarily be of high-quality. When you see a team like that, try to isolate their specific weaknesses. Since the preponderance of bowl games occur on neutral sites, gauge how well a team is playing on the road. With 6-win teams getting into bowl games nowadays, it’s not uncommon to find a team that is typically quite impotent on the road. There can be a lot of blowouts on the board during bowl season.

It’s difficult to draw the line in bowl season for which games you should bet and which ones you should leave alone. Just because a game is billed as being “important” doesn’t mean you should bet. Approach it like you would in the regular season when it comes to the standards you use to decide whether or not to wager. Then sprinkle in some of the other elements that are specific to bowl games and you’ll be on your way to closing the season strongly.

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