Thoughts on Early College Football

Kelso's Advanced Handicapping: Thoughts on Early College Football

As promised I'm back again this week to read and react to developments we've already seen this season in the world of football. If you missed Tuesday's notes from the NFL, please check the archives here at the website for that companion piece to today's discussion on college action on the gridiron.

Some notes from the first two weeks of college football.

  • The thing that jumps out most to me right off the bat is the dramatic influence that new coaches are having across the college landscape. Jim Mora has UCLA believing they can rule the Pac 12. Paul Chryst has people in Pitt wondering how he got the job. Good coaches have an immediate impact for the better...one that's worth several points in Power Ratings. It typically takes oddsmakers a few weeks to catch up. Though the cat's out of the bag on Mora right now with UCLA scoring a big upset in a national TV game. There are some coaches out there who are having success but have stayed under the radar. I'm not going to list them here because I may be using one or two of them for big plays on Saturday. I strongly urge you to review the offseason coaching changes then evaluate how each team has done straight up, ATS, and in the stats through their first two games.

Oh, we have an interesting coaching dynamic in tonight's TV game matching Washington State and UNLV out here in Las Vegas. Mike Leach is the new coach for WSU, and certainly hopes to get things moving more effectively after a sluggish start. Bobby Hauck of UNLV probably should have been let go after last year. There's no faith in this program right now after last week's loss to Northern Arizona. Before the season started I had circled this play for special attention because of the head coaches. I have to say I've been a little bit disappointed with what I've seen from WSU against BYU and Eastern Washington.

  • Quarterback depth has already become a serious issue with a few programs. That's only going to become a bigger factor. Defenses are much more aggressive than they used to be in this sport. Often the best play is to ask your quarterback to scramble because all the other options are accounted for. Well, that's just asking for an injury to the shoulder, ankle, knee, or head. For running quarterbacks, the injury rate is basically 100% if you're talking about a full season. They're all going to get banged up eventually.

I would strongly suggest you focus this year on quarterbacks who can move the ball and score without having to do a lot of the running themselves. There's nothing worse than having a great situational edge only to see your quarterback get knocked out of the game in the second quarter. You should also do whatever research you can about all the second stringers. Illinois was in big trouble at Arizona State the minute their regular starter couldn't go. The collapse you saw from Arkansas against Louisiana Monroe came after their starter was knocked out. Learn the two-deeps for quarterbacks for every conference you follow or plan to bet...and find out what you can about the backups.

  • After Michigan got routed by Alabama last week, I wrote up an internet piece about the sorry state that the Big 10 was in. Well, AFTER THAT, the conference had a dismal week that saw Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Illinois all lose on the road in TV games to teams from the Pac 12. Before non-conference play winds down and conference action really heats up, do what you can to take advantage of overrated and underrated conferences.

Generally speaking, I think the Big 10, Pac 12, and ACC are overrated (though you'll find a handful of teams in all three who do offer true value). The SEC and Big 12 have the best teams in terms of real potency, even if you can cherry-pick a few teams who are probably overrated. The Big East doesn't get much respect any more...but that's no longer a conference the media even tries to hype.

In short, you'd better be darned sure you have your ducks in a row if you're thinking of making a big bet on a Big 10, Pac 12, or ACC team. Michigan was supposed to be the best team in the Big 10 this year according to early polls. They're 0-2 ATS and lucky not to be 0-2 straight up. Even USC and Oregon of the Pac 12 are a combined 0-4 ATS because they're not playing with the passion and abandon that many had expected.

You can have much more confidence regarding true dominance with the elite teams from the SEC and Big 12 in my view. I do have some thoughts on the Independents and mid-major conferences. But, I have some sleeper situations in those leagues coming up in the next few weeks that I want to protect.

To sum up the day...pay attention to new head coaches and backup quarterbacks...and try to stay in synch with the true power conferences while not falling into traps set by overhyped teams from disappointing leagues.

If you'd like some help picking winners in football (and daily baseball through the pennant races and playoffs), my top plays are always available for credit card purchase right here at the website. Full season rates are affordably priced if you're ready to make a commitment through the World Series, BCS Championship, and Super Bowl.

I'll be back with you on Tuesday for our next class here in my College of Advanced Handicapping. I recently talked about using "intuition" in one of my website videos. Our class on Tuesday will discuss that very theme. Learn how to make smart choices with your gut instincts the next time we're together. I look forward to seeing you again at that time.

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