Other than March Madness, the College Football Bowl Season is one of the most popular times for pick’em contests and office pools. Most pools are designed to select straight up winners, ranking each game by confidence. This is the format we will provide our picks in. All of the picks will be put together and averaged out to derive an “official TSE recommendation”. You will be able to view each handicapper’s picks individually as well.
Obviously, picking straight up winners in a contest is much different than selecting totals and spreads over the course of the season. Due to this, we will give out some strategy tips and insight on how to give yourself the best chance to win your office pool this year. Feel free to share your ideas and strategy in the comment section if we did not cover it.
Here are some preliminary tips to keep in mind when making your selections:
Look for spots to fade the popular pick. The public loves to get hung up on overall records, rankings, and name recognition. This gives you plenty of room to fade overrated teams with an inflated record or ranking if the matchup is right. (See the exapmles below)
Strength of Schedule. This plays into the previous point. Some teams will be stepping up or down in class for the bowl games (compared to the talent level they played during the regular season). This definitely needs to be taken into consideration, but keep in mind that there are a few ”giant killers” out there (Boise State 2007).
Motivation can be fickle. I’m not saying motivation doesn’t play a key role in bowl games, but it can be very difficult to pinpoint. Will a team that narrowly missed a BCS bowl be unenthused for their next game, or will they take out their frustrations in their non-BCS bowl to prove they belong amongst the nation’s elite? How will a team that is just happy to have made a bowl perform? Will they come out swinging with a “nothing to lose” mentality, or will they roll over since they’ve already completed their goal of reaching a bowl game? All of these angles can be easily justified.
The coaching edge should be weighed heavier. Some teams will have three weeks to almost a month of preparation before playing their bowl game. This allows coaches to dissect game film, scheme, and implement new plays for the last game of the year. Expect some of the best coaches (especially defensive-oriented ones) to roll out some solid gameplans in these matchups.
Who is the public taking?
Here are some upsets that the public likes (against the Vegas lines):
Central Michigan (62%) vs Western Kentucky (Line = WKU -6.5)
Northwestern (63%) vs Mississippi State (Line = MSU -3)
Rutgers (61%) vs Virginia Tech (Line = VT -2)
Here are some games that the point spread suggets a pick ‘em (3-points or less), but the public is heavy on one side straight up:
UCLA (62%) vs Baylor (Line = UCLA -1)
Air Force (81%) vs Rice (Line = AF -1.5)
West Virginia (81%) vs Syracuse (Line = WVU -3)
TCU (66%) vs Michigan State (Line = TCU -2.5)