There are so many different factors to look at when handicapping a bowl game. Understanding the history of bowl games can certainly help with making your decision. Motivational factors are clearly more important in bowl games than they are in the regular season. Statistics can’t exactly be thrown out the window, but you should focus more on motivation than numbers if you want to come out ahead during the bowl season.
Is a team that got blown out in it’s final game of the regular season going to fold in the bowl game, or it is going to come back and fight hard to try and make up for it? That is the question I set out to answer by going over the history of bowl games. I have pulled up all the teams that were blown out by 10 or more points to see how they fared in the postseason. I have also broken it up into tiers of blowouts, and here is what I have found.
Fading Teams in Bowl Games After a Blowout Loss Against the Spread
- Off a Loss By 10 or More Points: 191-168-2 (53.2%)
- 10-20 Points: 110-87 (55.8%)
- 20-30 Points: 56-47 (54.4%)
- 30-40 Points: 29-25 (53.7%)
Before doing the research, I believed that these teams who were coming off blowout losses would actually do well in their bowl games. That’s because I figured there would be value with them since the blowout was fresh in the mind of the betting public. That usually forces oddsmakers to inflate the opponent of the team coming off the blowout loss.
Instead, it has proven to be a wise move to fade the team coming off the blowout defeat. In a way it makes sense because they are obviously dejected coming into their bowl game, and they have no momentum at all.
A Winning College Football Bowl Betting System
These numbers are compelling, but not quite worth following blindly. I looked for something to tighten this system up and found a simple yet effective way. Teams that are favored against teams coming off of a blowout loss of 20 or more have gone 52-42 (55.3%) against the spread.
The logic behind this is in two parts. First, if a team is playing against another team that lost by 20 or more points, but the team that didn’t get blown out is an underdog, there is probably a pretty big talent gap between these teams. Using a recent example, Auburn gets blown out in the SEC Championship game, then plays UCF in their bowl game. UCF is a pretty big underdog against Auburn and with good reason.
The second piece of this is simply sticking to fading teams that really got blown out (is a 14-point loss really a “blowout”?). While their seems to be a small advantage in the overall sample with smaller blowouts, once you filter by favorites you want to play against the teams that lost by more than three touchdowns.
This Season’s Bowl Teams to Bet On
To save you some time, I’ve ID’d the teams this bowl season that fall under this system. Best of luck!
|12/20||Sun Bowl||Stanford -6.5||Pittsburgh|
|12/22||Holiday Bowl||Utah -7||Northwestern|
|12/26||Independence Bowl||Temple -3||Duke|
|12/27||Pinstripe Bowl||Miami -4||Wisconsin|
|12/27||First Responder Bowl||Boise State -3||Boston College|
|12/31||Armed Forces Bowl||Army -3||Houston|
|12/31||Gasparilla Bowl||Marshall -2.5||South Florida|