Once upon a time in college football, we could all name the Bowl Games we were interested in. Orange, Cotton, Rose, etc.
Fast-forward a couple decades, a few more television networks and a substantial amount more revenue for their respective universities and we are on the doorstep of the most Bowl games we've ever seen, but that hasn't watered down the interest in gambling on them.
This year, there are 41 Bowl Games. Las Vegas is preparing for the games in a way they never have before. You could say it's March Madness in December, where some of the games will provide interesting opportunities for the sharpest minds in the industry to make some money.
I caught up with world-famous wagering expert Jon Price of Sports Information Traders to review his strategy for the biggest bowl season of all time.
Jon, what is the single biggest surprise about the NCAA putting together these 41 games?
Price: Financially, it makes sense. From television ratings to advertising dollars, every extra game adds up to more money and better exposure for the NCAA.
From a wagering perspective, it definitely has changed the dynamic from a handful of games many years ago to over 40 now. I think where I am dialed in on is viewing how viable the teams who qualified for bowls through their academic standing are.
I applaud the NCAA for allowing perhaps what most would be considered "sub par" teams to play an extra game, but we will really find out whether or not that was a good idea both for the NCAA and the Casinos in Vegas.
So what you're saying is, your clients will be going against some of those schools that qualified for bowls through academics?
Price: No, not at all. My point is that motivation plays a major part in some of these Bowl Games. In fact, I believe these schools that aren't "supposed to be there" may actually provide some value, as there is potential for huge underdogs to potentially win outright.
It really all boils down to the matchup, and of course the point spread. Is the team close to home? What is the coaching situation? There are so many variables to consider before advising a selection.
You won a very large 6-figure amount last year on Ohio State, and you said on the radio at the the time that they were one of the teams to watch this Bowl Season. Who is one team to keep an eye on this Bowl Season?
Price: Well, clearly, Las Vegas will determine which of the teams you are speaking about we can invest in, as the point spread has to be right for us to advise a play.
Right now one team on the rise is clearly the Arkansas Razorbacks. Normally after a loss to Alabama, teams tend to lose steam as they get up for that one and then tend to not fare well after. LSU is a good example of that.
The Hogs; however, rebounded to win 5 of their last 6 and covered 5 as well. They are laying a big number against Kansas State in their Bowl Game, so we'll have to weigh laying double digits before advising on that one. Their offense is clicking as well as any team in the country and I've been impressed with their resiliency on more than one occasion.
Finally, do you have a theory or would like to offer some advice on if someone wants to use the March Madness novice approach and participate in a bowl pool or wager on all of the Bowl Games?
Price: I'd pay attention to a lot of the underdogs in the first 15-20 bowl games. The teams are very evenly matched and some of the top seniors in these games have future professional aspirations.
No player will ever admit to going less than 100 percent, but for the most part, these games even for them are in fact meaningless with so much attention paid to combines and post-bowl game workouts. That evens the playing field quite a bit, so taking the points this month is advised.
History also indicates underdogs in December bowls have fared well over the past decade. Just be smart, manage your bankroll and realize that there are many pitfalls when trying to handicap 41 games instead of 15, 20 or even 30.