College Football's Early Season Difficult Encore

by Tom Stryker

Friday, Sep 03, 2021
It’s never easy handicapping college football games in the first few weeks of the season.  Aside from the knowledge of what key starters are returning, it usually takes a battle or two in order to determine the true pulse of a team.

With the help of my college football database, the same one that was featured in the December 13th, 2010 issue of the ESPN Insider magazine, I’ve been able to isolate and profit from a number of early season technical situations that have performed very well.  In September, I will be sharing a few of those with you that have churned a respectable profit.

Usually, in the first few games of the season, momentum can be a solid tool when it comes to picking pointspread winners.  This issue’s System of the Week goes against the grain.  Take a look at what I like to call, “College Football’s Early Season Difficult Encore.”

Since 1980, PLAY AGAINST any game two non-conference underdog priced at +10.5 or more provided they take the field of battle off a blowout home win of 10 points or more provided they won seven games or less a year ago.

41-Year ATS Record = 108-72-1 ATS for 60.0 percent

This Week’s Play’s = OREGON & USC

When college football teams check in off impressive performances early in the season, the “buy” sign is usually shining bright.  In this situation, it appears to be turned off.  The fact that this team only won seven games or less last year likely means they’re still a work in progress.  (Last year, in a shortened season, Fresno State went 3-3 SU and San Jose State finished 7-1 SU.  The argument could be made that the Spartans would have won more than seven games in 2020 and that would push SJS out of this system.)

There is one situation that can be added to this general system that really makes it pop.  If our “play against” side is battling an opponent that won eight games or less a season ago, this system falls to an eye-popping 28-59-1 ATS.  Last year, Oregon won six games and USC tasted victory in five battles.  Unfortunately, it was a rare COVID-19 season in 2020 and the Ducks only competed in seven total contests and the Trojans fought in only six.  Even though the tightener applies, we’ll consider it with a grain of salt.

Still, Fresno State and San Jose State are locked into this general negative situation this week and we’ll look to play against the Bulldogs and Spartans.  Best of luck with the UO and the Men of Troy.  

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

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