Bowl Season Handicapping: Three Factors to Consider

by Kyle Hunter

Thursday, Dec 08, 2022
College football bowl season lines are already up. If you are a fan of college football, this is a really fun time of the year. How many bowl games are there in all? There are a whopping 43 games. Because this year January 1st is a Sunday, there are no bowl games set on Sunday since that is an NFL day. There will be plenty of games around the holidays though. If you are betting on bowl games, here are three factors to consider when placing your bet. 

#1- Motivation- In past years motivation was about the only thing you need to know in order to pick winners in bowl games. Things are far more complex in college football now than they were then. Still, motivation is crucial when handicapping bowl contests. Which teams want to be there the most? I’m not going to pretend deciding which team is the most motivated is always an easy thing to do, but it better be something you consider. I like to fade teams who had far higher aspirations and landed in a smaller game. Also, if a team hasn’t been to a bowl game in a long time, they are highly likely to be excited for this opportunity.

#2. Opt Outs/Transfers- Here is the part that wasn’t even part of the equation looking back ten years or so. It gradually started happening more, and now it is a massive part of handicapping the game. Why would Tulane be getting hammered against USC? Why would Kansas State be getting hammered by bettors against Alabama? Obviously those bettors are assuming a lot of key players from both USC and Alabama will sit out. This is another reason why I in general am more cautious about releasing plays very early in bowl season. A lot of things can happen between the final game of the regular season and the bowl contest.

#3. Location- The location of the bowl game matters for a couple key reasons. First, how far is the team having to travel and will their fans be able to get to the location easily? Second, are they traveling to a location where college players will be excited to go play? This ties back to the first point on motivation. If the game is being played in Hawaii, it is pretty easy to see why anyone would be excited to go there. What if the game is played in the middle of nowhere on the day after Christmas? Then you have to question who actually wants to be there.

Good luck on all your plays in bowl season. Keep these three factors in mind! 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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