College Football Betting: Scheduling

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper,

Looking at the match-ups in college football requires you to take a close look at each team’s schedules and understand all the nuances that lie within that information. Understanding this aspect of handicapping can allow you to better gauge the emotional wherewithal of a team. It can offer clues into how future performances will go.

Again, we are dealing with very young men here. While their classmates are hanging out with friends in dorm rooms, these young athletes are being jettisoned around the country in airplanes, participating in big-time athletic events. There is a vast emotional spectrum involved. There are also things that happen during the season that are directly related to the schedule that will strongly suggest how a team will perform.

There is no way to compile stats on any of these notions to substantiate them, since emotions cannot be quantified. But how many times have we seen a good team severely underperform on the point-spread on the road, only to come back home the next week and blow out the other team? Or a good team loses to a lesser squad in an upset that affected their postseason placement. The following year when those teams play, you can bet the returners from the season before will be mentally sharp and bent on revenge.

Not every game is the same. Ohio State is going to get up for the Michigan game more than other games. Auburn will play their tails off against Alabama. Those are the famous rivalries. There are dozens more, less-publicized rivalries, where teams that might not be having a good season manage to get it together for that one game.

Watch for rises or drops in class. Just like in horse racing, some teams struggle at a high-level of competition. They don’t look so good against the higher-echelon teams. But then a game appears on their schedule against a good squad, but one that has built up its record in a lower-end conference. The urge might be to take the winning team, but maybe the team you’re betting against is a better team. That team would have been winning if in the same conference. Don’t look at won-loss records and forget to look behind the still. Some of these teams with mediocre records in top conferences are battle-hardened squads just waiting for a softer opponent to showcase what they can do.

Watch out for sandwich games. Say for example Oregon has a stretch of three games against (in this order) Stanford, Nevada, and USC. Just by looking at that, which game would you suspect that they might not be at their full powers? They poured all their efforts into Stanford and have high-powered USC looming. That doesn’t mean they won’t crush Nevada, but bettors should try to gauge motivation. And when a team is in a hectic part of their schedule, they approach “gimme games” with a lowered sense of urgency. That could hurt if they’re expected to cover a big number.

When dealing with young kids, it’s important to remember they are not professionals. Road trips can take their toll. A team trying to find its bearings can suffer a few cross-country butt-whippings and find it hard to regroup from the disappointment. Take note of the rigors of the road that are faced by each team. Is it a short trip or a long one? Is a west coast team playing a noon game back east that feels like 9 a.m.? Is a team playing in weather they are not accustomed to?


The energy level and spiritual demeanor of a team can be buoyed by certain games. A home opener usually gives way to a high level of energy. Homecoming games might lend themselves to some better performances and heightened fan support. And don’t forget about respect. A lot of teams that were supposed to be good open up the season poorly. It won’t stay that way, usually. The level of urgency and personal accountability come to the forefront and these teams raise the level of play.

Pride is an element to consider, especially with traditionally good teams coming off a bad season. If you see a team that has been in a bowl game for 20 years suddenly not make it to the postseason, you can bet the whole offseason was spent trying to right the ship. That team might not be so great on paper, but a sense of pride can help them get back to a bowl game. Handicapping games involves delving into issues like respect and redemption. This is an emotionally-charged sport so understanding that side of it will certainly allow you to cash in more winners over the season.