College Football Picks: Ways to Solve the Handicapper's Conundrum

Joe Gavazzi

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 6:02 PM GMT

Wednesday, Sep. 9, 2015 6:02 PM GMT

Here are two of the ways in which the situational and statistical handicapper can use last week’s games as indicators of success placing college football picks in next week's action.

Each week in college football handicapping, as well as in all other sports, the handicapper is faced with the conundrum of whether teams will continue their positive or negative momentum, or whether there will be letdowns or bounce backs. The handicapper’s job through years of experience, as well as situational handicapping, is to develop an instinctive feel for which way these results will lead us in the next game. In this article, I present two different ways in which the handicapper can look to isolate situations as described above.

The first chart shows a list of teams, who won a game straight up last week as an underdog of 6 or more points. Examine these teams carefully in their next game, to see whether you believe the momentum from that upset will continue, or whether they will have a letdown. Conversely, be aware of the teams who were upset. Does their negative momentum continue? Or, should we expect a bounce back? A key component of our analysis will be the adjustment the college football odds maker has made as a result of the upset. Survey the last column of this chart entitled “AFP” (Away From the Point Spread) and consider that the larger this number is, the greater the adjustment by the linemaker. Here are your upsets from Week 1.

 

TEAM

LINE

FOE

SCORE

AFP

Portland St.

+31

Washington St.

24-17

+38

N. Dakota

+18

Wyoming

24-13

+29

Florida Int’l

+17

UCF

15-14

+18

Fordham

+14

Army

37-35

+16

Northwestern

+12

Stanford

16-6

+22

Hawaii

+8

Colorado

28-20

+16

Temple

+6

Penn State

27-10

+23

UConn

+6

Villanova

20-15

+11

Hint:  From a historical perspective, one of the best ways to take advantage of a letdown is to play Against teams who are a home dog, following a big upset (the superior road favorite is on alert).

 

A second way to isolate games in which there are dichotomous results from the previous week is to examine games in which either of the teams had a +3 or -3 (or more) Net To Margins. Here is your list of games in which teams had a +3 or more net To Margin. I have also included a total yardage column for each team to see if the final score was warranted.

 

TEAM

TO MARGIN

TOTAL YDS

LINE

SCORE

AFP

FOE

YARDS

South Carolina

+3

394

-2

17-13

+2

North Carolina

440

ODU

+3

413

-7

38-34

-3

Eastern Michigan

444

Florida Atl.

+4

580

+6

44-47

+4

Tulsa

618

Western Kentucky

+3

247

-2

14-12

0

Vandy

393

Arkansas

+3

490

-33

48-13

+2

UTEP

204

WVU

+5

544

-19

44-0

+25

Georgia South.

224

USC

+4

509

-28

55-6

+21

Arkansas St.

402

 

Let’s use the first of these games as an example. North Carolina ran and passed for 208 or more yards against South Carolina. That is normally good enough (76% of the time) for a point spread victory. But, a -3 net TO margin, which included 2 INT in the end zone, resulted in what many might consider to be an undeserved victory for South Carolina and ill-deserved loss for the Tar Heels. Resulting thinking may be that South Carolina is a bit overrated and overconfident in their next game, while North Carolina should come hungry and be mad as hell

These are two of the ways in which the situational and statistical handicapper can use last week’s games as indicators of success in next week’s action. But, it is still just the tip of the iceberg in solving the Handicapper's Conundrum.

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