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Football Wagering: Motivating Factors
by Jim Feist - 10/13/2013
Motivation is such an enormous part of athletic competition, particularly in college sports where young players aren't always as self-motivated as pros, who are playing for a paycheck. This is where coaches play such a huge roll, in harnessing situational spots for opportunities to get their football team supremely focused.
When Ohio State had its first Big 10 showdown last month against Wisconsin, Buckeye coach Urban Meyer made it a point at a press conference of referring to the Badgers as “King of the Big Ten.” That was a reference to last season when Ohio State was banned from postseason play at 12-0, so Wisconsin represented the Big 10 in the Rose Bowl again.
Last year Wisconsin gave the Buckeyes all they could handle in Madison before falling 21-14 in overtime, and Ohio State won again last month, 31-24 (leading 31-7 after three). Even though Wisconsin has represented the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl for the past three seasons as the conference champion, the Badgers are 0-2 against Buckeye QB Braxton Miller. Meyer saw an opportunity to provide some extra motivation to his team against the Badgers.
Iowa State has been involved with two huge motivational situations against Texas the last two years. Two weeks ago the Cyclones, an 8-point dog, should have beaten the Longhorns, but made several key errors and had an official’s call go against them late. Coach Paul Rhoads blasted Big 12 officiating after a Texas fumble at the goal line ended up being ruled down by contact.
"I've got the privilege as the head coach of this football program to face my players, win or lose, and look them in the eye and tell them how proud I am of the work they put forth, the effort they gave," Rhoads said. "And to make a play on the 1-yard line, with their backs against the wall -- clear to everybody -- and have it taken away from them … that's hard to express. You don't just put an arm around a guy and tell him it's OK when that happens to him. I'm so proud of the effort my kids gave to win this football game tonight."
It was as an emotional speech as you could find in the best Hollywood sports movie. It also sent a message to his players that he was behind them – an 'us against the world' moment that could pay dividends down the road when he asks them to give it their all against another opponent, perhaps in a rivalry or revenge game.
Iowa State and Texas were involved in another emotional game in 2012. The Cyclones visited the Longhorns the week Texas legend Darrell Royal past away. Coach Mack Brown told the team in the middle of the week they would open the game in the Wishbone as a tribute. The crowd went wild, especially when the play went for a 47-yard TD! It was an emotional Cyclone that Iowa State had no chance against and Texas went on to win, 33-7, as 10-point chalk.
Sports handicappers long to find information or situational spots where a team is more motivated than usual, such as rivalry and revenge games. The rematch between Iowa State and Texas certainly looked like a revenge spot, as Iowa State should have won the game as a +8 home dog.
Notre Dame stuck it to Oklahoma a year ago, winning at the Sooners in impressive fashion, 30-13, in a national TV showdown. It was the seventh straight loss to the Irish, a fact that didn’t elude Bob Stoops when they played in the rematch last month. Oklahoma won in South Bend, 35-21, and Stoops was well aware of the long history: "Now that it's happened this way, I'm pleased and I sure am glad for those older Oklahomans that have been through all those games Notre Dame had beaten us. We get some level of satisfaction winning this one."
College football features countless examples each season, homecoming games, revenge spots, conference showdowns, angry coaches, teams that are holding grudges, all of which can show up on the gridiron in a super-human team effort for a big win. Matchups, home field and betting trends are all important to examine, but motivation can also be a huge edge on game day, one that successful sports bettors are eager to find and exploit at the betting window.