College football’s second season gets underway on Saturday, Dec. 17 with the opening round of bowl games on this year’s expanded schedule. This three-week extravaganza of sports betting opportunities leading up to the College Football Playoff and national title game on Jan.9 gives you one last chance to cash in on the games. It does not matter whether you crushed the books this season or find yourself in the position of trying to cut your losses, there are a few basic betting tips to keep in mind when it comes to your overall bowl season betting strategy.
The one at the top of the list is to not try and bet on every game. Counting this year’s College Football Playoff Championship, there are over 40 games on the bowl season schedule. Granted they are spaced out over a number of days; however your goal as a sports bettor is to zero in on the games where you already have a pretty good feel for the teams involved. If you did not bet on single game this year in the Sun Belt Conference or the MAC, then you will probably want to take a pass on any bowls that feature teams from these conferences. Conversely, if you spent a great deal of time handicapping a specific conference then you might want to focus your biggest unit plays on the bowls featuring one of those teams.
Since many of the matchups in the bowl games are between teams that are not very familiar with one another, past betting trends are not nearly as important when it comes to breaking down the games. The one exception to the rule would be a team’s recent performance in bowl games. Some teams get up for these games much more than others, which often time results in a strong win-loss record both straight-up and against the spread. You also want to focus your attention on teams that are well supported by a traveling fan base. This can work to create a slight home-field advantage for one team over the other even if they are both from the East Coast playing out west.
Quality coaching also gives certain teams an edge this time of year. The layoff between any team’s last game and when they actually play their bowl game is significant, so you want to find the teams where its head coach knows how to get it ready and keep it ready over such a long layoff. You should also be aware of any pending coaching changes. If a team’s head coach is bolting the program right after its bowl game to take a new job someplace else, this could have a negative impact on its performance in their final game at the helm.
Access to an accurate injury list is also crucial during bowl season. The long layoff allows every team to get healthy and you will want to be aware of any key starters that may have missed playing time at the end of the season, but are now healthy enough to start in that team’s bowl game.
One of the best aspects of betting on any bowl game is that you have a full body of work for both sides of matchup to help your handicapping efforts. Overall records do not mean all that much, but how a team played over its last four or five games can provide some valuable insight into how it may play in a bowl. Teams that tanked the end of the season to drop down into a lesser bowl than expected will not be nearly as motivated as a team that needed a late-season winning streak just to qualify for a postseason bowl.