I so often hear chic sports fans and handicappers talk about games being won “at the point of attack”. I know of one handicapper who constantly screams he doesn’t care about the skilled position players; he loves the “lunch pail” guys. If it were only true handicapping would be so easy because all we’d do is bet injury information line moves. When was the last time you saw an injury to an offensive lineman take a game off the board, circled or have the line significantly adjusted? Still thinking of one, eh? On the other hand, when was the last time a major change in regards to a 1,500 yard rusher did not have a huge effect on a line?
So if the “lunch pail” banalities were true, any time a line is adjusted to compensate for a quarterback’s injury all we’d have to do is bet with the affected team because a line move of major proportions would be unjustified. Conversely any time an All-SEC offensive lineman was out, we would bet the other team because the linesmakers did not counterbalance enough. The sharp players would be those who value “lunch pail” players more than the linesmakers do. Bad news folks, the oddsmakers know what they are doing by reorienting much more to a quarterback’s status than even that of an All-American right tackle.
The illustrious teams in college football have few weaknesses and with almost no exception have great depth. Hence very often an injury to a key player will result in public overreaction in betting the college football odds because his replacement is nary a drop off. Florida State for example just pencils another pro prospect into the starting line-up.
When it comes to the elite non-BCS teams, they are almost always dominated by players at skilled positions, especially at QB.
Do you think it’s a coincidence that BYU’s great run ended once they stopped sending every QB to the NFL? Take a look at when LA Tech, and Central Florida had their best seasons. Sorry you won’t see a Cinderella team with a bunch of mediocre skilled position players.
So what is our point as far as handicapping? The top notch teams at that level will not have major injuries that sneak under the radar. However the injury and suspension information that often is inconspicuous to the books are with the middle rung to bottom feeding smaller conference teams.
Injuries to three or four key players at the so called non-skilled positions can be immeasurably more deleterious to a team like Arkansas State than they would be to Arkansas. The often overlooked facet of handicapping injuries is anticipating the improvement when key personnel return. This is only multiplied with the Louisiana Monroe’s of the world.
The only thing Joe Public likes to bet less than crappy teams is bad teams from inferior conferences. Hence with all the factors mentioned above the most common source of injury related off-lines occur in the Sun Belt or even WAC, Mountain West and MAC second and third tier teams. In the battle of a 3-5 team laying 11 points to an 0-8 squad the spread difference can occur and so often does in situations analogous to the winless team playing with their offensive line and front seven healthy for only the second time all year, while the chalk has two hurting starting linebackers. The M*A*S*H reports not only of injured but also of recovered little publicized key players of the sub-.500 non-BCS teams are where the most esteemed sharpie handicapping choice morsels are found.
You keep searching the injury wire and betting blogs for the status of a USC guaranteed first-round NFL selection. We will cash the ticket getting hold of accurate information on the third-team and honorable mention All-Sun Belt players. Therein lays the unperceived choice bits.