The College Football Championship Game

Kelso's Advanced Sports Betting: How to Handicap Alabama vs. Clemson

Almost a full season of college football action is in the rearview mirror. All that's left is to handicap the final game of the 2015-16 campaign...the National Championship battle between undefeated at #1 Clemson and #2 powerhouse Alabama. Interesting, it's the one-loss entry who's favored by about a touchdown over the undefeated team at the top of the polls! Who's right, the polls or the market?

Obviously I can't put my play in Monday Night's TV showcase here in my web article. That wouldn't be fair to my paying customers. I will review the process I've used to make my side and total selections.

PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS
You regulars here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping know this is where we start. Make a list of the high impact players for both teams on both sides of the ball. Which players on offense are most likely to determine which team covers the spread? Which stars on defense have the best chance of disrupting that...or even making plays on their own that lead to points on the scoreboard?

A team can't possibly get this far without having PLAYMAKERS. Which team has more? Which team has the one guy that the other one may not be able to stop? Is there a straw that breaks the camel's back? Between now and kickoff, you'll hear several dozen people with myriad approaches to handicapping this game. KELSO STURGEON is here to tell you that focusing on PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS will always put you ahead of the pack.

THE MOTIVATION FACTOR
This is always the second step in my process. You're probably thinking that both teams will be sky high for this matchup, so it's a non-issue. That could turn out to be true. But, we've all seen big games where the eventual loser was a favorite victimized by either "overconfidence" or an underdog having nothing left in the tank emotionally because of what happened in their prior game.

Look, nobody's going to "no-show" a game like this in terms of caring about the result. Will Alabama come out flat because they avenged last year's semifinal loss? They were focused SO MUCH on taking care of business vs. Michigan State that they might start flat-footed Monday. On the other hand, did Clemson play so great in "proving they shouldn't have been an underdog" to Oklahoma that their emotional well has run dry? Or, could that well run dry in the second half after a competitive first half?

Some things to think about here. Arguably, the single most important factor in nailing this game is deciding whether THE MOTIVATION factor will or won't be an issue.

TURNOVERS
You'll hear a lot of people in our industry say "you can't handicap turnovers." Well, let me tell you...it's not possible to know for sure exactly how many turnovers a team will commit in any given game. But, you can at least recognize when a team is more likely than the other to lose the ball a few times. Betting against those teams will pay off in the long run. Here's a blackjack analogy. You can't know for sure when you're going to be dealt a face card and an ace...but counting cards will help you recognize when the deck is full of face cards and aces! Make bigger bets at that time and it pays off.

So, I want you to think very hard about who's more likely to win the turnover category Monday night. Both teams won it in the semifinals. Alabama was perfect in a 0-2 victory in the category. Clemson only had one miscue in a 1-2 turnover victory.

*Which QB or offensive coordinator will try to make something happen he shouldn't?
*Which team will choose higher risk strategies in the second half?
*Which defense is better suited to forcing mistakes?
*Who covers the game is it's a "turnover tie?"

There are some matchups where this category just doesn't mean very much to me. If I'm picking a blowout, it's usually because of a mismatch in PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS that's going to trump any turnover surprises anyway. Here, with two super-talented teams, the turnover category is much more likely to be a determining influence for who covers the Las Vegas pointspread. (Also, note that the issues we talked about with THE MOTIVATION FACTOR could be the cause of any turnover imbalance.)

KELSO STURGEON'S best bets in the College Football National Championship (historically a side-total-parlay) can be purchased right here at the website with your credit card on game day. Questions about extended service and combination packages can be answered in the office during normal business hours at 1-800-755-2255. Be sure you check on combination packages that take you through the Super Bowl and March Madness. 

The Dean of Sports Handicapping wishes you the best of luck in Monday's championship game. We'll have more coursework later in the week for basketball and the NFL. I'm still deciding the exact content and order of themes because I always try to keep all course materials fresh and relevant. Thanks very much for your attention and continuing attendance!

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