# HORRIBLE HANDICAPPING: A LESSON

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### HORRIBLE HANDICAPPING: A LESSON

Last night, the total in the Motor City Bowl was set at 70.  At the Crowne Club we had our biggest play of the Bowl season so far on the UNDER.

Offensively, Florida Atlantic has averaged 25 points per game this season, and Central Michigan has averaged 30.  The combined offensive points total 55 -- far under the posted total.

Defensively, Florida Atlantic has allowed 29 points per game, and Central Michigan has allowed 31.  Again, the total of 60 is well below the posted total.

Lest you think that one or two aberrationally low scoring games skewed the total, both teams were involved in games that went over a total of 70 points only 3 times out of 12.  If the total had been set at 70 in all of the games for each team this year, each team would have a hideous 25% record over the total.  Not exactly a confidence-building past performance for the over.

An analysis of the yardage for each team using the yards-to-points formula in my Football Handicapping book produced a predicted total of only 58 points.

Normally, with a total set at 70 or above, I look for at least one team to have a season average of over 500 yards gained offensively or allowed defensively, and all other offensive and defensive averages for the two teams to be above 400 yards.  If one team does not have at least 500 yards in their offensive or defensive average, then I look for more than 300 passing yards gained or allowed for at least one team, and all other passing averages to be over 250 yards.  The overall numbers for the Motor City Bowl teams were not close to adequate for a play on the over.

With all the averages and statistics pointing clearly to the Under, it's no wonder that we had our biggest play in the Bowls so far on Under 70.  The question is, "What was the total doing all the way up at 70?"  By any measure, the total in the game should have been 55-60.

The total was set at 70 as a result of two factors that together form perfect examples of what I call "HORRIBLE HANDICAPPING."

"Horrible Handicapping" is defined as any of the fallacious methods used by the public to predict the outcome of games.  These erroneous methods are the biggest reason that the public loses, and the biggest reason good handicappers are able to win.  The linemaker does not set a line based on his opinion as to the actual outcome of the game.  If he did, there would never be any exploitable advantage in the line.  Instead, the linemaker sets a line that he believes will split public opinion.  To do that the linemaker must handicap like the public, fallacies and all.

The line was set at 70 in the Motor City Bowl based on:
1.  The score of the most recent game for each team.
2.  The past scores in Motor City Bowls, particularly the most recent Motor City Bowl in 2007.

Despite each team having a hideous 3-9 record going over a total of 70 for the season, Florida Atlantic's final game produced a huge 106 points.  Central Mighigan's final game had an even higher total of 108 points.  The Motor City Bowl has historically been a high scoring affair.  Over the past 11 years, an average of 57.7 points have been scored in Motor City Bowls.   Last year, there were 99 points scored, making the 2007 Motor City Bowl the second highest scoring Bowl Game in history.

The public's tendency to overemphasize the last game in handicapping often leads to completely inaccurate predictions and resulting inaccurate lines.   The last game for both teams in this year's Motor City Bowl was clearly aberrational.  One of the high scoring finals was produced in overtime.

We do not need to analyze the past Motor City Bowls any further, since considering them at all is a fatal mistake.  Trends in Motor City Bowls in past years between different teams have no more to do with the result of this year's game between this year's teams, than the winner of the U.S. Open has to do with the result of the Super Bowl.

Here are three rules for the regular and post season that will help you to recognize and avoid horrible handicapping wherever you may find it, and to recognize and take advantage of lines skewed by consideration of the wrong factors:

Rule 1:  Ignore any past games or trends that do not include at least one of the teams in the game being analyzed.

Rule 2:  Ignore any game or games played in  prior seasons, unless the prior season game or games include BOTH of the teams playing in the game being analyzed,  and both team's players and coaching staffs are substantially the same as in the prior season game or games.

Rule 3:  Never give the last game more weight than any other game played for the season unless there was some fundamental reason, such as an important injury, for the last game to be different from all others for the season, and that reason continues into the current game.  If the latter is the case, pass the current game because a single game (whether the last game or not) should NEVER be used as the sole basis of a selection.

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• based  on  :

Offensively, Florida Atlantic has averaged 25 points per game this season, and Central Michigan has averaged 30.  The combined offensive points total 55 -- far under the posted total.

Defensively, Florida Atlantic has allowed 29 points per game, and Central Michigan has allowed 31.  Again, the total of 60 is well below the posted total.

Line  would  normally  open  at  58  and  move  according.

Nice  Catch   \$\$\$

• I AGREE  100% WITH THIS POST-- SOME CAPPERS USE STATS THAT DO NOT AND SHOULD NOT BE USED IN DISECTING A GAME-- GOOD POST--  GREAT INSIGHT--THANKS

• Good insight, Rob. Thanks!