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.
I 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.