It’s a known fact that a college football team stacked with a tone of returning starters, plays better than a team riddled with newcomers. But just how does that equate to handicapping college football games?
How much stock should handicappers put in a team’s returners?
From the obvious to the not so obvious, we have assembled a few good reasons football bettors should consider putting their money on teams that are stacked with returning personnel. Taking note of certain tendencies and advancements.
And while a team with a hefty number of returners will probably be able to match up well against a much more talented but less experienced team, when two teams are similarly matched talent-wise, does the one with more experience have the edge? Maybe, if the experience is at key positions — like at quarterback.
More than any other position, quarterbacks benefit a heck of a lot more from experience than just about any other position. If a QB is not used to the speed and complexity of college football he’s going to struggle.
But even an experienced QB will struggle with an inexperienced offensive line. That’s why a team with a good number of returning lineman who know how to protect their quarterback, should certainly always have an advantage.
But just looking over the rosters for a particular game and spotting the team with the most returners isn’t enough for handicappers to bet on the team with the most returners. Bettors need to ask a few questions.
First, handicappers need to establish whether or not a returning player has shown consistent improvement. Just because a player is in his second, third or even fourth college football campaign, it really doesn’t guarantee he’s developed at his position. Handicappers should look for players that have shown consistent statistical progress, spotting signs that a player is possibly figuring things out.
In doing that, bettors should also be able to identify if a returning player can handle the big games, which may include rivalry matchups, nationally televised games and games played in hostile environments, or against a top ranked opponent. Does the player show confidence or does he crumble under the pressure?
Next, are a team’s returning players playing above their expectations?
If a football team’s returners are covering spreads consistently, and by wide margins, then they are probably exceeding expectations. But if not, they may present a risk at the betting window.
Finally, does the coach trust his team?
While some coaches will risk it all, most only take chances on experience. If a coach has a group of returners he really believes in, he will show it by making more aggressive play calls. If handicappers can spot that, they will know if a group of returning players can really be trusted.
While the influence of returning players is something handicappers want to take into consideration when placing their wagers, it is important that they remember that the power of this advantage definitely lessens as the season progresses.
In the end, the more games a team has played, the more experience the players have, and the less the lack of experience returners really matters.