A couple of weeks ago we talked about some basic concepts for handicapping the early bowl games. Now, we’ll turn our attention to handicapping the late college football bowl games. Sports betting experts approach these games differently, and so should you.
There is some debate as to what constitutes a ‘late’ bowl game for the application of these college football betting concepts. Some say its any post Christmas bowl game, but I’m of the opinion that anything that takes place on New Years’ Day or later is for our purposes a ‘late’ bowl game. These are typically the most prestigious games with the biggest implications for the national title picture. There are a few exceptions this year, for example the GMAC Bowl on January 6th which pits Troy vs. Central Michigan and is an ‘early’ bowl game in every regard except its schedule date.
The primary difference is that while we begin our handicapping for the ‘early’ bowls looking at the underdog we do just the opposite for the ‘late’ bowl games. In most cases, we start our handicapping for these games by looking at the pointspread favorite. There are several reasons for this, including the opposite phenomenon that we frequently see in the ‘early’ bowl games. In ‘early’ bowl games, its often the case that the team that is better ‘on paper’ may not be as motivated, excited or focused at the prospect of playing in a low profile bowl as is their less accomplished opponent.
That’s simply not the case in the ‘late’ bowl games. In most cases, both teams are motivated which makes the pointspread more of a true indication of the relative strengths and weaknesses of the participants. A primary reason for this is that the issue of scheduling is not in play. During the regular season, we often find value on underdogs by looking at the schedule. Favorites may be ‘looking ahead’ to a more significant game, or in a ‘letdown situation’ for one they’ve just played. They could be fatigued from playing a number of weeks without a break. Or else they may simply not be as ‘up’ for a given matchup as their opponent.
For the late bowl games, none of these issues apply. Both teams have been off for several weeks, making fatigue and preparation less of an issue. And obviously there’s no ‘letdown’ or ‘lookahead’ situations. With these issues not a factor, it becomes more of a battle of talent and matchups and in most cases by definition this is to the advantage of the favorite.
Of course there are exceptions to all rules: not saying that its the case here, but a team like Florida that played in the National Championship game last year could be less enthused about the prospect of playing in the Sugar Bowl. A team that was in the national championship hunt all season before losing late in the year could also be in something of a ‘letdown’ situation for their bowl game. You need to look at every matchup individually, but on balance favorites historically perform better in the later bowl games than in the earlier games.Tweet
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