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College Football Betting Tips

College Football Betting Tips: Why You Need To Watch the Games

By Loot, College Football Handicapper,

Stats are a mixed bag. On one hand, there is vital information to be found in a statistical analysis. But as you well know, college football games are not played on paper. Stats, while useful, only tell part of the story. No college football game is exactly the same. And to truly know the nuances that lie within wins and losses--you need to watch the games.

When you actually watch the games where fodder is being used to calculate a future bet--we need to know what lies behind the numbers. We need to know what situations and circumstances might have led to that final score or what we see in the stat box. And there is no easy way to do that--you need to do a lot more than just read the box score and see a few highlights on ESPN.

In college football, this is a big challenge. It’s hard enough to adequately stay on top of things in the NFL--where there are only a quarter of the amount of teams that occupy Division I college football. So how do you do it? 120-something teams, and you’re supposed to know all the wrinkles of all the games? It’s impossible.

One recommendation is to refine what games you play. And do it according to your strengths. Maybe you excel at betting big-time college football--teams that get a lot of pub and belong to the powerhouse conferences. Other bettors, however, might find that they get edges in the lower-reaches of the FBS. So whatever your strengths lie--focus more on those teams. And if you couldn’t see the game, at least try to track down a thorough written description of the contest.

Watching games or at least understanding what really transpired can help put stats into a more meaningful perspective. For example, you might be analyzing a team that has a potent air-attack. To determine if that team has a diverse offensive attack, you look at the stats of their top running back. You see that he is also having a nice season statistically. So you emerge from the analysis with the feeling that this is an offense that is diverse--with strong pass and run.


While that might be true, there are other possible explanations. What if that team opens the game passing? They get teams down so that by halftime, the outcome of the game isn’t really in question anymore. Then in the second half, the focus shifts. The offense, now way ahead, starts conserving its QB and pass catchers, opting to eat up clock by handing off to their running back. That running back, in turn, produces some big numbers.

In the above example, the running back’s stats become to look less impressive. He gained the bulk of his yardage after the game was already decided. The defense, getting pelted by the pass attack all game, was slow to react to the new run-heavy approach. And plus, the defense, no longer had the motivation that comes when a game is still winnable. So a lot of those running back’s yards were in fact cheap yardage.

You will also see the same thing happen with team defensive stats. Sometimes, you see a lot of poor teams rank highly in pass defense. Is it because they are truly good against the pass? Sometimes. Other times, those stats are just an aberration and no real indication that a team can deal with the pass. Why are teams horrible? Because they get beat up. When one of these types of teams ranks highly in pass “D,” maybe it’s because they fall so far behind in the first half, that the opponent starts going easy in the second half and starts running the ball or even pulls out the starters.

Watching the games can also have you more primed to gauge when a team is due for a letdown. In 2011, LSU played Alabama in a game with national championship implications. They ground out a taxing 9-6 win. Anyone who saw the game could notice they left it all on the field in a game they had been shooting for before the season even began. The following week, they were 41.5-point favorites to beat Western Kentucky. Would you think they would really be up for a game of that nature--against a hapless opponent with no shot to win? Predictably, they failed to cover the spread. Watching the games would have keyed you in and had you better-prepared to predict the letdown.

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