COLLEGE FOOTBALL HANDICAPPING INSIGHT
not trying to be flippant, but a question that
handicappers need to ask this time of year is
“Who Really Cares?” Ask it to certain
college and NFL teams, that is. We are at that
point in the college football season where some
teams are fighting for conference titles, winning
seasons, and potential bowl berths. Of course,
other teams are already out of it, guaranteed
a losing season and possibly even knowing that
their coaching staffs will be let go soon.
Oregon State was a good example
Saturday, a team with a winning record that needs
a few more wins for a winning season. The whole
team, and the whole stadium, was motivated with
USC coming to town, the dominant Pac 10 power
the last few years and No. 3 team in the nation.
The Beavers were fired up for the game and pulled
off the upset as a dog, 33-31.
However, on the other end
of the spectrum is a team like Michigan State,
the walking zombies of 2006. Sure they pulled
off that incredible comeback at Northwestern a
week ago, overcoming a 35-3 deficit. But that
doesn't matter in Las Vegas where the Spartans
were an 8-point favorite. They won, but failed
to get the money. That has been commonplace with
Saturday the Spartans went
back to their lazy ways in a 46-21 loss at Indiana.
Even more stunning was that Michigan State was
a favorite again. That makes them 2-7 against
the spread this season, money-burners to the core!
This team clearly doesn't care anymore, especially
on defense, where they surrendered 450 yards to
Indiana (5-4) is fighting
for a winning season and gave up just 35 yards
the rest of the first half after falling behind
7-0. The Hoosiers did not allow another first
down until the fourth quarter, a span of 12 possessions
by the Spartans and 46 straight points by the
Hoosiers! It is no secret that Michigan State
coach John L. Smith will be gone soon.
Note that the Spartans have
been ATS losers for three straight years now,
at 11-24 ATS their last 35 games.
Handicapper and oddsmakers
must make adjustments on whether certain teams
care or not. Some pro players and coaches are
not going to be with the same team next year,
so they are fighting for jobs, either with their
current team or when a future employer comes calling.
There is a huge difference between a team that
is motivated to play hard, and ones that are far
Ask yourself each week:
Are teams rallying around the coach? Or have they
packed it in? Quotes from players and coaches
can provide clues, as well as statistic, especially
defensive ones. Teams that are playing hard, even
bad teams, can put up a fight defensively each
week, while dead teams will get run over often.
Teams that care the most will win more often than
Bryan Leonard is a documented member of The Professional
Read more of his articles and get his premium