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How important are emotions when handicapping college football games?

How important are emotions when handicapping college football games?

How important are emotions when handicapping college football games? Several weeks ago The Sports Boss Patrick Donovan provided us with some great answers to our college football handicapping Q & A and Patrick thinks team emotion is the most important aspect of handicapping college football games.

I asked Patrick how he handicapped college football games and if there were any situational spots that he really liked. Here are Patrick’s thoughts:

My college football handicapping is much different than almost every other sport I do, but for this discussion let’s talk about the difference vs. the NFL. In the NFL I use a lot of stats, almost exclusively stat analysis for all my plays as I have built elaborate excel files that contain every stat for every team and every game over the last 7 years.

College football I do not use stats because compared to the NFL, it is very tough to normalize for schedule differences – 32 NFL teams are all relatively similar in performance, but college there are huge differences and some teams just flat out stink. So it’s tough to value stats.

I am more what I call “performance/score comparison” based, and although that is tough to explain because it is all in my mind, basically I use all my preseason reading to handle the first 1/3 to 1/2 of the season, but the second half I really compare scores in my mind of how teams did against other teams, and try and locate games where teams are big time due for a stinker, or a huge effort.

Very in tune with the emotions of college football, that is the word I like to use the most. You must be aware of the emotional level of each team prior to each game.

Emotional “Situations”

Handicapping college football gamesI am always looking at fading teams coming off big, emotional wins the week before. Emotion is my #1 variance in capping college sports – it is not something you can put a number on, rather it’s a feel you get with experience and I leverage that a ton.

Two examples off top of my head is Michigan State last year – beating Wisconsin at home on that Hail Mary, then the next week they go to Nebraska as I believe 3pt dogs and get walloped 24-3.

And Ohio State, beating Wisconsin in the final seconds at home, then the following week they are laying close to 4TD’s vs. a terrible Indiana team and only win by 14ish.

I especially try and isolate spots where a team is coming off a huge win at home, then goes on the road laying pts – right there is the perfect example where I say emotions is the biggest variable as the home team will be crazy pumped to face a team coming off a huge win, while the team coming off that win will struggle to match the high flying emotions of an entire stadium and opponent that is ready for them. It’s just tough as human beings to bring the emotions week in week out.

When it comes to handicapping college football, emotions are HUGE. They are sometimes the great equalizer when a less talented team takes on a better and more talented team. Picking your spots is tough, but as Patrick explains, they are a very important aspect to the handicapping puzzle.

Great stuff from Patrick. When you get a chance check out The Sports Boss’s website and his blog. There’s a great college football update on Injuries, Suspensions and Transfers since Spring Camp  – Teams A to I  and Teams K to Z

Please share with us your best emotional spots when handicapping college football.

– Pez




5 Responses to “How important are emotions when handicapping college football games?”

  1. GoSooners GoSooners says:

    Excellent stuff Pez. I actually played Nebraska last season based on Michigan State’s emotional state. Not only from the Wisconsin game the week before, but the Michigan game the week before that. It was asking too much for 19-20 year old kids to get up 3 weeks in a row after facing that kind of competetion.Some posters thought I was wrong, and it wasn’t a big enough reason to play the Huskers after MSU had looked so good up to that point.. Well, it wasn’t based only on MSU’s emotional state. Nebraksa ran the ball for 223 ypg last year. So they definitely had the capability of controlling a game over not only an emotionally drained team, but probably a physically drained team too. And that’s exactly what they did. They are still running in that game. I look for these kinds of spots ALL year in college football.

    This is a bit off subject in a way. In a way not. But Pez has talked about the 10-80-10 theory where a typical team throughout the season will perform to their capabilities 80% of the time. But 10% of the time they will perform to less than their capabilities, and 10% of the time they will perform better than their normal capabilites. Now with instances like MSU last year, their subpar performace against Nebraska was due strictly because of their schedule of those 3 tough games in the middle of the season. But I have a theory to why teams perform badly or above their heads out of nowhere without any outside circumstances like scheduling.

    It is a controversial theory because it never has been proven by science. But I’ve always believed a person’s “Biorhythms” have a direct influence on how they perform their day to day or week to week tasks. Your biorhythms are based on your emotional, physical and mental states throughout a given cycle. Which is around 23 to 33 days depending on which cycle your on. I used to go over a friend of mine’s house when I was a teenager. His dad was a retired airline pilot and inventor. I would go back in this room and see all kinds of inventions that he had. Some he actually had patents for.

    His dad was the one who got me interested in biorhythms. And he actually invented a biorhythm clock for me. It told me when I was up or down in each of those three cycles. When your biorhytms were all up, it meant you were at your performance peak, and when they were all down, it meant that you weren’t going to perform up to your normal abilites. Now before you totally dismiss this, they take biorhytms as a serious science in certain countries. For instance back then in Japan they didn’t let any of their public transportation drivers like bus, train drivers work during the time periods where they were down on all three biorhythms. Including their airline pilots too, which I believe is where my firend’s dad got his idea, since he was a former airline pilot.

    Anyway i thought I would share that story. I actually had my biorhythm clock for about 10 years. And I thought it was pretty accurate in determining my physical, emotional and mental state. Bernard Gittelson wrote the popular book on this subject back in the 70’s. And he claimed he actually had the ability to predict sporting events based on biorhythms. But it was never proved as far as I know. I know this is a controversial theory that’s up there with astrology and global warming. But I feel it works based on my experiences. And I think it’s why football teams don’t perform to their exact abilites that you expect them to 20% of the time during the season.

  2. SoonerBS says:

    Emotional situations in college football handicapping is HUGE! Good article.

  3. Pezgordo Pezgordo says:

    I am big into using stats to help me handicap games, but there are definitely some emotional spots that I look for throughout the season. And a lot of times I will allow these emotional spots to override what the stats indicate.

    GoSooners is really good at identifying some of these spots. He is constantly suggesting sides/games to me based on it being a bad spot, let down, etc., but the number match up is usually terrible.

  4. GoSooners GoSooners says:

    BS…I wish I had a golf game. I was telling Pez this afternoon that I’m just a shell of myself. An old man with a hernia and a bad golf swing. After we played our year end tournament my clubs were officially retired for the year. My “biorthythm clock” is permanently broken

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