Betting Methods for College Football Bowl Games

A general view of midfield at Hard Rock Stadium before the Orange Bowl between North Carolina and Texas A&M on January 2, 2021. Eric Espada/Getty Images/AFP

Betting bowl games was never simple and it has gotten far more complicated. Besides trying to determine winners, the newest twist is which players are opting out anytime from when the original schedule was announced, up to when a team departs to their location for the game.

This is on top of coaching changes – fired or moving on, desire to play, travel distances, player suspensions or misbehavior and the most important one, X’s and O’s.

This is a great deal to think about and weigh all the possibilities. Nonetheless, it is far from impossible to beat the betting odds from the sportsbooks like you will find at OddsTrader.com, especially when you have over 10 days from the bowl game matchups until the first games. And over 90 percent of the contests are spread over 14 to 17 days most years.

With over 40 bowls now the norm, having extra time and everything spread out is a big plus to allow yourself a better chance to make better college football picks. However, this is not the old days when there were 20-23 bowls and the old adage of – Underdogs before the New Year and pound the favorites on New Year’s Day when there were seven bowls to watch on January 1st.

Here are some helpful hints.

Stick With the Basics To Start

It can be easy to get distracted with all the options and the time available to make decisions. That’s why it makes the most sense to handicap the games like usual.

This means looking for edges first. Typically, a good starting point is finding what teams run the ball best. If one club averages 185 or more yards and the other is at 140 yards, the advantage goes to the stronger running squad, particularly if an opponent also happens to be weaker in containing the run.

The best aspect about the running game, especially those who have not played a game for almost three weeks or more, passing teams need repetition to generally stay in sync. That’s not to say a good throwing quarterback and a bevy of receivers will not have a great day with 21 or more days between games, it’s just that is sometimes problematic, especially versus an opponent with a pass rush and quality secondary.

Otherwise, look for the superior defensive team. A lot of early bowls before Dec. 30 are high scoring, thus, a defense that can make a few stops will typically turn the scales in their favor. A dominant defense can win and cover against the spread if the offense does its job.

Know the Coaching Situations

As mentioned, already we have seen coaches fired or leave for other jobs. These teams don’t lose every time, but they often come into games lacking direction or proper focus. Though the players still work with position coaches more directly and frequently, leadership starts at the top and not having that familiar voice does matter.

On top of coaching, do your best to find out how the last week of practice was before the teams flew to their game location. The game plans were put in and worked on and you should attempt to find out if the bowl game is a reward for the season or coveted to win to complete the season? It is important to try and find out who wants to win and who wants to just play and enjoy the experience.

Motivation Matters

Roughly two-thirds of all FBS teams go to bowl games. If a team had low expectations and possibly did not make a bowl last year, chances are they will show with something to prove after a better-than-expected season. Match them against an opponent used to playing close to or on Jan. 1 and they were relegated to a minor bowl and are the favorite, this is a prime spot for an upset.

Another example is a younger team that played a harder schedule to end the season and lost three of four off a good start. There is a good chance they want redemption believing they are better than what the scoreboard said. In a parallel universe, another squad also closed 1-3 after a 6-2 start, but this was a more senior-laden team and thoughts of a greater bowl destination and they end up being a very minor bowl. What is their motivation?

Odds and Ends That Add Up

If you follow a conference or two specifically, hone in on these. Learn as much as you can about their opponents if you are not familiar with them to allow you to make the best call for college football picks. Focusing on elements you know should only help your results.

We briefly touched on travel before, but historically, those that have to travel significantly greater distances do not do as well. Be sure to look for this.

Lastly, keep close tabs on the bowl season results. Keep track of conferences by SU and ATS records. Every year some shine and others falter badly. Keep track of point ranges (0-3, 3.5-7, 7.5-10, 10.5+ for example) and chart them looking for edges. The same goes for totals (40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s) as these invariably provide edges.

Above all, have fun watching the action and place yourself in the best spots to win. And remember to check back for more betting strategy at the OddsTrader blog. Happy betting!

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