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Beyond the BCS: Nothing Certain About MId-Week Games

   by Ben Burns - 09/30/2009

The fall shuffle is on.

Beginning this month, teams from across the country will have their schedules turned upside down with Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday games.

Classes will have to be rescheduled, and practice routines will be disrupted. Players and coaches will be traveling late at night. It’s hectic.

Home teams in these situations would seem to have an obvious advantage. But it hasn’t panned out that way.

In the past two seasons, home teams are 28-30 ATS in games involving non-BCS games played on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday or Sunday in October and November.

These isolated made-for-TV games also produce distractions for the home teams. Suddenly, players from these non-BCS school that aren’t used to being in the spotlight are getting asked to do interviews with ESPN, who are making their overbearing presence known on campus, leading up to the game.

The added media exposure also garners more attention from the books. They know the action will be increased, so, of course, they are going to up their focus.

It doesn’t matter that it’s Arkansas State at Louisiana-Monroe. If that game was buried on a Saturday card, maybe bettors could find a soft line. But since it’s the only action on the board, the books will be focused like it was Oklahoma-Texas.

Normally, the added attention would inflate the numbers on the favorite. But that hasn’t been the case. Favorites have actually been strong in this situation. The chalk is a surprising 35-24 the last two seasons in games involving non-BCS teams played on a non-traditional day.

This suggests that the better teams are able to overcome the distractions better than the underdogs, who know they have to play their best game against what’s perceived to be a superior squad.

The over/under trend is far less dramatic. Unders have a very slight edge (29 to 31).

What does all this mean? Well, as usual, relying on trends for these games isn’t going to make us rich. Instead, it becomes even more important than normal to focus our handicapping on the individual matchups.

Here are a couple storylines to follow this weekend for next week’s Tuesday, Friday and Sunday games:


Middle Tennessee (3-1 SU, 3-1 ATS) at Troy (2-2, 2-2)

Troy has been very one dimensional this season and relies heavily on the pass. The Trojans defense also is suspect, especially against the pass. They’re allowing 32 point a game and 263 yards passing. But, remember some of those numbers have been impacted by playing Florida.

Middle Tennessee’s hot start, which includes road wins over Memphis, Maryland and North Texas, has been bolstered behind the 19th best passing attack in the nation.


Louisiana Tech (1-2, 1-2) at Nevada (0-3, 0-3)

Those numbers are before this week’s games. Louisiana Tech, which hosted Hawaii Wednesday night, will have a couple more days of rest than Nevada, which hosts UNLV Saturday.

The Nevada fan base has been in an uproar over the Wolf Pack’s slow start. Some sent letters to the administration threatening to boycott home games if coach Chris Ault wasn’t removed.


Fresno State (1-3, 2-1) at Hawaii (2-1, 2-0)

Fresno State will be well rested. The Bulldogs are off this week, before traveling to islands on Sunday. Hawaii will have 10 days off, after playing at Louisiana Tech on Wednesday.

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