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The Three "E"s of College Football
by Bryan Leonard - 09/09/2010
College football has kicked off, the best time of the year for sports bettors. There are extra elements that you don't find in pro football. Such things as homecoming games, or annual rivalry battles (Oklahoma/Nebraska, Florida/Florida State, USC/UCLA) on the schedule. All of this can be summed up in the Three E's of college football, something to keep in mind when analyzing and handicapping games.
Emotion: Unlike pro football, college football players have varying degrees of energy when playing a game. This is less common in the NFL. Pro football is a job, where players generally don't get too high or too low. Professional athletes are more concerned with doing a consistently good job. They take their play and their conditioning serious because they have to earn a living and feed their families, just like you and I do. Being consistent and serious about what you do is all part of carrying yourself in a professional manner, and that's very important. There's an old saying: "Take your job seriously, but not yourself."
College football is different. Some athletes get scholarships to play, but none are allowed to get a salary. This is why coaches try to fire up players with speeches using emotion, by appealing to their pride or that they're following in the tradition of great teams in the past (such as Notre Dame, Michigan or Oklahoma). This partly explains why some football coaches are great in college but fail in the pros (Pete Carroll, Steve Spurrier). But emotion is not something that can be relied upon every game. Sometimes you'll see teams going through the motions, especially if they have a featured rival coming up the following week. Understand the emotional aspects of college football, not only when emotion might be present on a given Saturday, but when it might not be present.
Electricity: There's an electric atmosphere to many campuses on a college football Saturday. Homecoming games are extra-special, with larger than normal crowds. Former alumni show up or past gridiron greats will be honored at halftime. Make a not in your schedule each week when a team is playing its homecoming.
Home field is also a part of this. The Carrier Dome is super-loud for both football and basketball for Syracuse. Ohio State and Iowa have had an extremely strong home field edge the last decade. Keep careful tabs on how a team plays both home and on the road.
Eagerness: How eager is a team ready to take the field? This is tied in to who that team is going to play. Many times college football teams have revenge on their minds, and players will admit that they've been waiting all year to pay back an opponent. This was evident a few years ago when Texas A&M hosted No. 2 Oklahoma. The Sooners had humiliated the Aggies a year ago in a 77-0 wipeout. Texas A&M hadn't forgotten. They played with passion, building up a 28-14 lead before the Sooners rallied. The underdog Aggies still got the money with ease, however, as a +12 dog.
It was clear they were waiting with eager arms a whole year for the rematch, something that you see far less in pro football. Understanding the importance of the "Three E's" can help you find another "E": Getting an "edge" every weekend before going to the betting window!