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College FB -- Mismatches and Defense

   by Bryan Leonard - 09/27/2005

Offenses get all the publicity and certainly too much interest with the

general betting public. But good defenses are more important than offenses,

when it comes to winning championships and often times covering numbers.

This comes to mind after Saturday’s college football games where I backed

two teams from the Mountain West Conference.

I had TCU as a road dog Saturday at BYU. TCU has an improved defense,

something that was a serious weakness last season. This was on display in

the opener when they stung Oklahoma, winning on the road as a +24 dog. TCU

addressed its major weakness, run defense, and completely dominated a fine

Oklahoma running game. TCU was No. 1 in the MWC in total defense heading

into the BYU game.

They did give up a lot of passing yards to the Cougars, but took away BYU’s

ability to run the football, something that was important as BYU had an

early 21-10 lead, but couldn’t control the ball or the clock. And TCU’s

offense is balanced and potent enough to come back, which they did,

eventually winning the game as a road dog.

Defense is something that San Jose State doesn’t play, being a small,

undersized program. That was another play I had, taking San Diego State at

minus-14 over the Spartans. SDSU not only had the better defense, but this

was a complete mismatch on the field on both sides of the ball. I recognized

that San Jose didn’t have the offensive punch nor the defensive muscle to

hang with SDSU, especially on the road.

San Jose is now 0-8 straight up and 2-5 against the spread on the road the

last two seasons. In their first road game this year, they failed to cover

in a 40-19 loss to Illinois. Illinois may be a weak Big 10 program in

rebuilding mode, but they are a huge step up for a school like San Jose

State, which is one of those “middle groundâ€쳌 programs between Division 1 and

1-AA. Technically they’re Division I, of course, but that’s only because

there is no Division 1-B class. They got outscored by 21 ppg last season on

the road, and are getting beaten by 26 on the road this season, so laying

the 14 was not a concern.

Mismatches like this are common this time of year, as there are fewer

conference games. In addition, San Jose didn’t have the passing game to

mount a late comeback, which can lead to a back-door cover. That’s another

thing to look at when assessing mismatches – does the weak opponent have a

chance at a late cover? Analyzing defensive ability and mismatches in

September and early October can unearth outstanding wagering opportunities

on live dogs and undervalued favorites.



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