Wayne Root: How to Find Week One College Football Upsets
The first full week of college football action for the 2017 season is upon us. Last week barely counts! Your Thursday, Friday, and Saturday handicapping schedule will be very busy from now through early December. This weekend, you'll also have some Sunday and Monday action to consider as well for the Labor Day holiday.
You may have noticed there was only one "upset" in that abbreviated appetizer last weekend. Hawaii scored very late to barely beat UMASS. But, Hawaii was the better team to begin with, which is why they were getting less than a field goal on the road. Oregon State, San Jose State, and Rice had no chance. Portland State would have had a chance if they had an offense! It can be tough to find truly smart options for "upset calls" early in a new season because there are so many mismatches.
This week's schedule also has a lot of mismatches...games you can automatically throw out as possible upsets. Here are some tips for narrowing down the card to find the best possibilities for moneyline bets on underdogs to win outright, or for underdogs plus the points. This advice will work for Week One, and probably any non-conference games through the month of September.
*Take experienced dogs that can score points. I always emphasize this key fact for you. A lot of Vegas-based pundits like to talk about defense. Let me tell you, "defensive dogs" will break your heart if you want them to win straight up. Maybe they can keep a game close. Too often they do that for three quarters then fall apart in the fourth. For upset calls in Week One, you want proven quarterbacks and offenses who are capable of winning the game (as Hawaii did with late offense last week).
*Fade inexperienced favorites who are priced due to reputation rather than current true talent level. These are the teams most likely to be shocked in their openers. And, it can even happen at high spreads of -14 or -21 if a relative no-name opponent is treating it like their "game of the year" while the favorite is complacent, overconfident, and relatively inexperienced (which can happen at mid-level major conference programs). Too much attention is paid to the "live dog" element of an upset pick, and not enough to the vulnerability of the favorite. You don't pick upsets against high quality favorites...you pick upsets against overrated favorites.
*Take dogs that are well-suited to game conditions, particularly HOME underdogs who might catch a road favorite at an awkward starting time, in a climate switch (northern favorite forced to play in very hot weather), or on a field surface that might need adjusting to. The betting markets know about "bad body clock" issues as a concept. But, the price still often underestimates the impact. Some favorites start out so slow that they fall behind by 2-3 touchdowns in the first half, then spend the rest of the game trying to catch up. Others lose their breath in the second half at altitude, or start to cramp up in high humidity. Think outside the box to find talented underdogs who are best positioned to exploit that and win the game outright.
*Fade favorites who just had a coaching change. This is true for recently successful programs that just lost their coach to a bigger program, or for struggling programs that just fired a man who wasn't meeting the expectations of boosters. I'm not saying that ALL of these situations will cause upsets. But, they'll create the opportunity. Programs losing a great coach often fall apart immediately. Programs in trouble take awhile to rebuild no matter how excited people are about the new coach.
Ideally, you'll find convergences that create PINNACLE super-play possibilities. Look for offensively talented underdogs in favorable game environments against inexperienced favorites dealing with overconfidence or dramatic changes on the sideline. I'm obviously not going to get more specific about early September action because that wouldn't be fair to my paying clients. The only man in the handicapping industry with a star on the "Walk of Fame" will tell you that I have already planned multiple upcoming major releases that fit these scenarios.
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After months of waiting, Las Vegas sports bettors now have college football back on the board. This is going to be one of the most exciting seasons ever in my view. Let's make the most of it! It's time for you to go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!
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