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There's Value in Home Dogs!

   by Al McMordie - 09/21/2010

I'm partial to dogs more than cats. Not because dogs can fetch the newspaper, but because they can fetch the money. I'm not shy about puppies, as dogs can provide excellent value for your betting dollar.

The NFL Week 1 saw a string of home dogs play extremely well, and several (Steelers, Texans, Seahawks, Redskins, Chiefs) won outright. Many times home dogs can be worth a serious look, especially in college football where emotion, tradition and fan support are such key components. For example, Kansas has only one win this season, but it was as a home dog against No. 15 Georgia Tech, 28-25.

The Jayhawks were off that embarrassing home loss to North Dakota State, 6-3, and wanted badly to get a win for a first-year Coach, Turner Gill. It was a marquee game, too, against the 15th ranked team in the country, a team that was the defending ACC champion, so it was no ordinary game.

"There was a big sense of urgency," said Kansas wide receiver Daymond Patterson.

"They came out mad," said Yellow Jacket quarterback Joshua Nesbitt. "You could tell that they came out mad from losing their last game and they came out hungry."

Emotion plays an important role in college football. Many times, like Kansas, a home dog has more motivation because of what happened the previous week, introducing a new coach, or homecoming. I recall a few years ago when East Carolina was a home dog to Army, despite the fact that Army had a poor defense. Army had a better known head coach at the time, Bobby Ross, but they should have been favored, coming off an 0-13 season the previous year.

Army was a TD favorite despite recently ending a 19-game losing streak! Yes, Army was improved, but they were still eons away from being an average football team and here they were a favorite – on the road, no less! That alone made whoever Army was playing worth a peek.

At the time, East Carolina was a bad road team, like Army, but they were far more competitive in front of the home crowd. In that game, East Carolina ended up with 38 points and 426 total yards as their QB carved up the Cadet secondary (26-of-36 for 285 yards, 3 TDs and no interceptions). Winning the turnover battle 3-0, which is the most difficult thing to try to predict, was the final piece of the puzzle as home dog ECU not only covered getting points but won the game outright, 38-28. This was not a great shock, either, as the Pirates were 3-0 SU/ATS the previous three meetings with Army, winning 38-32, 59-24 and 49-26.

It's important to examine how teams perform at home compared to on the road. Think about Nevada, a home dog this past weekend, but the Wolfpack walked all over California, 52-31 (and Nevada was our biggest play of the week). Colin Kaepernick ran for 148 yards and three touchdowns, and the Wolfpack lead the nation averaging 588 yards of total offense.

"They'd be competitive in the Pac-10," said Cal Coach Jeff Tedford. Especially as a home dog!

For bettors, getting points with dogs is great especially when you've identified a dog that you think has a chance to be competitive or even win the game. Good handicappers don't need miracles to pull out ATS covers, just sound judgment and analysis before the kickoff.

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