Early Football Betting Tips (Part 2)

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Posts from Handicappers on hiatus

Early Football Betting Tips (Part 2)

The last time we focused on the NFL but we'll now shift gears to some of the things I look at early in the year when it comes to college football.


OSU's Todd Boeckman could be the difference when the Buckeyes travel to take on USC early in the season.  

1. Beware of inexperienced offensive lines. This is probably one of the best tips I can give you in any sport. Let me tell you a story. A few years ago, Dave Ragone returned to Louisville for his senior season. The Cardinals were loaded with talent at the skill positions and were expected to have a high-flying offense. One problem. Louisville was replacing all five offensive linemen with players that had little to no experience. I overlooked this and layed something like 18 points against Kentucky in the season opener. It wasn't even close. Ragone was sacked nine times and had about two seconds to throw the ball every time he dropped back to pass. Kentucky won the game outright and I vowed to never let that happen to me again. It was so frustrating knowing I had to cover close to three touchdowns and my team could barely get the snap off before the opposing defense was in the backfield. So now I closely follow teams replacing three or more linemen in the spring to see how they are making out.

Now, it's important that the new starters are inexperienced. USC is replacing three starting linemen from a year ago but all of those guys have seen significant playing time due to injuries, they just weren't listed as starters. That won't be a big deal for the Trojans. The team I see that could be in trouble is Clemson. They have a great quarterback, two great running backs and a great wide receiver. However, they have to replace both tackles from last season and after spring ball, the team still had no clear-cut starter, particularly at left tackle. All the candidates the Tigers used there in the spring were a revolving door, so the competition will spill over to the summer. Hmmm. A National Title sleeper that has no idea who their starting left tackle will be? I'm sorry but I see that as being a huge problem, especially opening up with Alabama. Some might point out that the Bama defense wasn't very good last year. That was last year. Nick Saban is a defensive-minded coach and he has a lot of young talent at his disposal. I guarantee that the Crimson Tide defense will be vastly improved this season. So, keep an eye on Clemson's tackle situation as we get closer to the start of the season. If it doesn't get fixed in a hurry, Tommy Bowden and the Tigers will be getting off to a slow start once again.

2. When two good teams square off, experience at quarterback is huge. As luck would have it, we have a perfect example of this on Sept. 13 when Ohio State travels to USC. First of all, you are going to get tremendous line value with the Buckeyes here. Everyone will remember Ohio State getting blasted in the last two National Championship Games, so oddsmakers will have to protect against everyone slamming the Trojans at a low number. Secondly, USC is going to maul Virginia in its opener. I think the Trojans will win this game by 40 points and if I'm right, that will only increase the line the following week against OSU.

I've already heard an early projection of USC -7 in this game. I'm sorry but that's way too high. Talk about tremendous value in a line. When you look at these two teams, they are almost a mirror image of each other. Both squads have dominating defenses and strong offensive lines leading the way for talented running backs. The big difference, however, is at quarterback. While Mark Sanchez started three games last year, he has never seen a defense like the Buckeyes. Meanwhile, Todd Boeckman has been in the biggest games, on the biggest stage. I'm not saying that Ohio State will win this game but I am saying that you will most likely get great value with the Buckeyes in this one. And when teams are as close as these two are, experience at the quarterback position will often be the difference.

3. Lay the wood early but beware once conference play begins. I love betting teams with explosive, experienced offenses early in the year to cover big numbers. Teams like Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas Tech will be almost impossible to stop when they face inferior opponents. The saying is defenses are ahead of the offenses early in the year but not for teams like this that have most of their starters returning, including blue-chip quarterbacks. Take the Florida/Hawaii game for instance. The Gators will name their score in that one. They will score, score and score all day long. I like to take a few teams every year that I think will have the best offenses in the country (Mine for 2008 are listed above) and bet them in the first couple weeks of the season.

That's part one of my plan. The second part involves taking the exact opposite approach once the tough conference slate begins. Because teams like Florida, Missouri, OU and Tech will roll teams early on, the spreads will be elevated by the time they reach conference play. That's when you can find good value when Florida travels to a Mississippi State or Missouri goes on the road to battle Colorado. My theory is you can find solid lines early in the year with these teams and then find value going against them once October rolls around.

These are just a couple of things I look at early in the college football season to try and find some winners. Please feel free to post any of your CFB betting strategies that you think would be beneficial to the forum. I look forward to the feedback.

  • Matty:  If Krenzel was the qb this year, we'd be talking OSU in a third straight Title Game.  He could manage the game.  He wasn't going to miss wide open receivers, or hold on to the ball the way Boeckman does, or throw into coverage like many stronger-armed qbs do.

  • Yes and we will have a lot more time to discuss this one as well. And remember, I just used this game as an example because it was a high profile game but there are many others where this theory can be very helpful. As a general rule, if a team that I think is close talent-wise to another is catching at least seven points with the more experienced QB, it's a game I take a close look at early in the year. But obviously, with all the factors that go into making a selection, there is a lot more involved than just who has the more experienced quarterback. Just something to keep in mind early in the year.

  • I'm pretty sure you will be getting more than three points here Tommy.  Like you said earlier, I also think the line will be at least -6 in favor of USC.  Good conversation by the way.

  • Right Matty. That's why if I'm getting more than three points, experience at QB could be key. And don't forget that  Auburn offense underperformed that year and didn't take off until Al Borges came in the next year. This theory obviously doesn't apply to every game but most people are going to want to go against the Buckeyes here because of what happened against Florida and LSU. The big difference is, those games where at the end of the season when teams get on a roll. This game is in Week 2, when teams are still trying to get in sync. Besides, the bottom line is I think Sanchez is going to disappoint overall.

  • You're right Tommy from a defensive perspective, but that Auburn offense featured Jason Campbell, Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams and did not score a point.  I think the important thing to keep in mind with these early-season non-conference showdowns is that defense takes over.

  • Matty, one problem: That Auburn team isn't in the same world with this Ohio State squad. This Ohio State defense has a chance to set some records this year. It's absolutely loaded at every position on the field. Now if Sanchez turns out to be Matt Leinart, maybe that won't matter. However, I seriously doubt that's going to be the case. Again, probably a low scoring affair and if the spread is USC -7, I will gladly take the points with the more experienced signal caller. If it's closer to -1, I won't touch it.

  • That's right J D BOOTY!!!

  • You got it Chucky - otherwise you are 100% correct, although I think it was John David Booty.

  • OK. In the Rose Bowl vs Michigan they(USC) opened up a -1 Chalk.....Joe Public & JD Bet Meechigan up to -1. Marco came with a 20* Bowl GOY & I LOVED IT.

    Last season Josh Booty was Injured & the Ducks minus the Points (Covered) beat USC in a Close Game.

  • The Trojans were underdogs at Oregon last year Chucky and against Michigan in the 2007 Rose Bowl.  That was the third time in five years.

  • Correct me If I'm wrong, but that was the LAST Time USC was an UNDERDOG!!!

  • Matty,

              I remember the Auburn/USC game also. I had the Trojans + the Points. That USC Team was VERY Talented.

  • UNDER definitely seems to be the right call right now Chucky.

  • IMO this will be a Tight, Low Scoring Game. QB play will decide the Outcome. Right now I would side with the Underdog & Under.

  • You could be right Tommy, but I also  remember an inexperienced QB from USC named Leinart who went to Auburn in his first collegiate start and got a big win.