But after being able to watch far more Bowl games than normal (thank you, Denver blizzard), I think I've learned some things and while using that glycemic index may be great for getting Dan Marino down to his playing weight, it's doing jacks**t to help me 'cap a game. So, going forward, I believe I'm going to use the following as a checklist to help me find Bowl bets.
Specifically, is one of the coaches in the matchup, severely over-matched. Think: Lloyd Carr vs. Pete Carroll, or Mack Brown vs. a potted plant. If the coaching disparity is great, I will not bet on the bad coach without extenuating circumstances.
Which team wants to be there. The media will always make up some angle about how a team that started as the preseason number two is all jazzed to be in the George Washington Carver Peanut Butter Bowl, but chances are they could really care less. Every year there are at least three underdogs who win outright on motivation alone. It won't always work in situations where the unmotivated team is substantially more talented, but in cases where the talent is close to even the motivated team seems to spring the upset, and where the talent is even it seems to be a blowout.
3. Who has key seniors?
Perfect example of this in the last week was Rutgers. The seniors at Rutgers, including that RB who came back for his final year just so he could be a backup to Rice, these guys were there when the program was a joke, so a bowl win for them was a big, big deal. Sure enough, they got a good matchup and that game was never in doubt.
4. Out of conference schedule
I got caught up this year with teams that weren't as good as I thought they were and the way that happened was because I was remembering them from really good impressive wins in conference. Well, that's great, but what if the conference sucks? The Big XII was down this year, we all knew that and yet there I am, betting on damn near the whole conference (OK I would actually bet again, but that's not the point). The point is, conference games may look great in a vacuum, but you have to look outside the conference to see if a team is really any good. Consider last year when Texas went into Columbus and beat up OSU, or this year when OSU beat up Texas.
5. Conference strength
This could be 4a., but whatever. Again, bigger picture over the smaller one. Is the conference strong this year, are the teams within it going out of conference and winning big games. Is the Bowl match up I'm looking at one in which it's obvious that one team is from a strong conference and the other is from a weaker one? If so, one team has been playing good competition all year and is very likely battle hardened whereas the other might be squishy soft.
6. Like matchups
When I'm looking at a Bowl matchup, did one of the teams in question play a similar opponent during the season? Minnesota had a similar matchup to a team like Texas Tech, same with Iowa and Texas. It may not be the best predictor, but look back over both the schedules and see what it has to say.
7. Better pass defense & better rushing offense
If one of the teams is dramatically better than the other in both categories, they're a consideration. The correlation is somewhat obvious. If they can run well, they're likely more balanced, if they're more balanced they're probably going to score. That means if they get the lead they're likely going to be running the ball and defending the pass to protect it. I had Arkansas yesterday, but it didn't blow me away that they were having a lot of problems in the second half yesterday being that Wisky was ranked as the best pass D in the nation.
These are the big ones that jumped out at me, feel free to add to it or shoot it down if you like.