Evaluating College Football Teams And Late Season Bye Weeks
As we move into late season college football, we continue to evaluate the adjustments and betting lines along with stats, match-ups, injury reports and motivation levels as some teams push for a bowl bid and conference title while others try to play through a losing or lost season. Some teams are super surgers and others are towel tossers. Injuries have an impact, as does the weather at this time of year, which must be evaluated more closely. Scoring and yards are up again this season, so the weather can have an impact down the stretch and teams also show some wear and tear while playing week after week.
Thus, a bye week later in the season can be a real positive for teams looking to freshen up and make a final push towards year end goals and bowls and also give them an edge against an opponent perhaps seen as better. This is also true in the big motivational rivalry games which highlight the November NCAA football schedule.
That was the case for Penn State this past Saturday at home in Happy Valley, as the Nittany Lions rose to the occasion and were rested and ready as a very big home 'Dog (+19.5). In front of a white-out crown of over 100,000 frenzied fans, Penn State delivered the knockout in the upset over No. 2 Ohio State, a big play winner for us.
So, I've outlined the bye schedule for the remainder of the season below and noted each team's opponent both before and after their bye week. In college football, a bye can be a real benefit to the rested and prepared team and especially later in the season. When playing at home, it becomes an even greater advantage.
In past seasons I've used a base situation favoring the home team off a bye with solid ATS success. In conference action, this becomes even stronger and especially in week 8 or later of the season. If the home team is coming off a win and/or playing with revenge from last season, the sub-set situation provides even greater strength for the home team to deliver a win and reward their betting backers.
This past weekend, big 'Dogs off a bye versus top-ranked teams delivered the money in the a pair of games with Oregon State (+37) at No. 5 Washington and No. 2 Ohio State at Penn State (+19). No. 5 Michigan was off a bye and rolled easily over Illinois 41-8, but could not cover the inflated line that steamed to -40 at kickoff. The other non-cover was a tough one for us and Texas A&M backers, as Texas A&M (+18) lost at Alabama, 33-14. I analyzed that game and match-up right here at OSGA, and unfortunately, A&M blew a second half lead and a key turnover and fumble return TD by Alabama turned the 'Tide and cost us in the Aggies defeat.
Other teams that won and covered at home off a bye last week were Auburn, Kentucky, Cincinnati and SMU (+17), who pulled the shocker over Houston as a 23-point home puppy, North Texas also won outright as a big 17-point 'Dog off their bye at Army, and struggling UTEP won in overtime on the road as a double-digit 'Dog.
Overall last week, teams playing off a bye went 11-10 ATS with home teams off a bye 5-5 ATS. Many of these games had big and often inflated point spreads on the high-profile and ranked teams, as the bookmaker makes adjustments also based on public perception. So continue to evaluate the point spreads, match-ups and recognize the situations and motivation for teams as they play down the stretch.
This is another piece to add to your handicapping arsenal, but know that you still must evaluate the motivation, match-ups, injuries, statistical profiles and betting lines before you blindly bet on these rested and ready teams off a bye. The linemaker has made more adjustments in recent seasons to the bye week situation, but there is still good opportunities available when you factor in all the information above.
Teams playing Saturday, Oct. 29 off a bye include: (home teams in bold)
Tennessee, Arizona, USC, Baylor, Iowa State, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Notre Dame, Florida Atlantic, Southern Miss, Arkansas State. Also, the following six teams are also off a bye and play each other: Florida vs Georgia, Clemson at Florida State, Duke at Georgia Tech
|Bye||Team||Conference||Pre Bye||Post Bye|
|Oct. 29||Alabama||SEC||Texas A&M||at LSU|
|Iowa||Big Ten||Wisconsin||at Penn State|
|Rutgers||Big Ten||at Minnesota||Indiana|
|North Carolina||ACC||at Virginia||Georgia Tech|
|Syracuse||ACC||at Boston College||at Clemson|
|BYU||Independent||at Boise State||at Cincinnati|
|Colorado State||Mountain West||at UNLV||Fresno State|
|Nevada||Mountain West||Wyoming||at New Mexico|
|No. Illinois||MAC||Buffalo||Bowling Green|
|Charolotte||Conference USA||at Marshall||at Southern Miss|
|Idaho||Sun Belt||at Appalachian State||at UL Lafayette|
|UL Lafayette||Sun Belt||at Texas State||Idaho|
|Texas State||Sun Belt||UL Lafayette||at Appalachian St|
|Troy||Sun Belt||at South Alabama||Massachusetts|
|Nov. 5||Arizona State||Pac-12||at Oregon||Utah|
|Utah||Pac-12||Washington||at Arizona State|
|Central Florida||AAC||at Houston||Cincinnati|
|South Florida||AAC||Navy||at Memphis|
|UNLV||Mountain West||at San Jose State||Wyoming|
|New Mexico State||Sun Belt||at Texas A&M||at Arkansas State|
|Nov. 12||Kansas State||Big 12||Oklahoma State||at Baylor|
|TCU||Big 12||at Baylor||Oklahoma State|
|Massachusetts||Independent||at Troy||at BYU|
|Connecticut||AAC||Temple||at Boston College|
|Temple||AAC||at Connecticut||at Tulane|
|Fresno State||Mountain West||at Colorado State||Hawaii|
|San Jose State||Mountain West||at Boise State||Air Force|
|Ball State||MAC||Eastern Michigan||at Toledo|
|Ohio||MAC||Buffalo||at Central Michigan|
|Eastern Michigan||MAC||at Ball State||No. Illinois|
|Western Michigan||MAC||at Kent State||Buffalo|
|Florida Int'l||Conference USA||at Western Kentucky||Marshall|
|South Alabama||Sun Belt||at Louisiana Monroe||at LSU|
|Nov. 19||Navy||AAC||Tulsa||at SMU|
|East Carolina||AAC||SMU||at Temple|
|Akron||MAC||Bowling Green||at Ohio|
|Bowling Green||MAC||Kent State||Buffalo|
|Kent State||MAC||at Bowling Green||No. Illinois|
|Louisiana Tech||Conference USA||UT San Antonio||at Southern Miss|
|Western Kentucky||Conference USA||North Texas||at Marshall|
|Nov. 26||Oklahoma||Big 12||at West Virginia||Oklahoma State|
|Oklahoma State||Big 12||at TCU||Oklahoma|
|Geogia State||Sun Belt||Georgia Southern||at Idaho|
|Louisiana Monroe||Sun Belt||at Appalachian State||UL Lafayette|
FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay