There are three sets of statistics from which to choose for the purpose of handicapping a Bowl game being played on a truly neutral field:
1. Neutral field statistics when they are available.
2. Away statistics for both teams
3. Overall statistics including Home, Away, and Neutral field games.
Many handicappers make the mistake of assuming that because both teams are playing on the road, that the most accurate handicapping statistics for a neutral field would be the Away statistics for both teams. Road statistics for both teams are the worst of the three choices.
The corollary to a home field advantage is a road disadvantage. Just as when you pick a winner you must also pick a loser, the home advantage and the road disadvantage are inseparable from one another. Built into the road statistics for each team is their road disadvantage and each opposing team's home advantage. As a result, using road statistics for both teams is no more accurate than it would be to use home numbers for both teams
The best statistics to use would be neutral field statistics, but for the fact that there are not enough such games in any season to create a statistically valid set of past performances. In college football, prior season results and statistics should never be a part of your handicapping. Players change, and those players who remain the same have matured and gained experienced. The team from prior years is rarely similar enough to the current team for prior year statistics to be used.
The only choice left are the overall statistics from all games. These are, from a practical standpoint, the most accurate statistics to use when handicapping the bowls. The home and road advantages and disadvantages offset one another within the overall numbers to form a true picture of a team's overall ability.
Keep in mind, however, that use of overall statistics is the best only for truly neutral fields. If one team is playing close enough to their campus to create a partisan crowd and eliminate the need to travel, every factor that creates a home edge will exist except familiarity with the stadium. Unless there is something unusual about the home stadium, familiarity with the physical stadium can be assumed to be the least important factor in the home field advantage. The best numbers to use when one team did not need to travel are Home statistics for the team playing near their campus, and Road statistics for the team that is required to travel.
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