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Knowledge gained looking ahead

Aug 19, 2003 3:06 AM

There are many aspects to successful handicapping and bettors are always looking for that perfect formula.

When doing research, many people focus on injuries and evaluate talent while dissecting the line to find weakness in the bookmakers number. Although all these factors are very important, I have had a tremendous amount of success using the "look ahead" theory.

This theory involves looking two or three weeks into the schedule and finding a team that is really vulnerable to get beat because of a flat spot or a situation that offers high motivation for a big win.

Most players sell themselves short when they concentrate on just the games of that particular week. Looking ahead yields many gems and, with no point spreads, can remove any bias that go hand in hand with a posted line. Not everyone can fast forward several weeks in a schedule and successfully predict winners. In most cases, this talent is an instinct and has to come naturally.

The more you try to find these situations, the more these types of plays will start to appear in the schedule. In looking ahead, you have to be very careful not to let the line scare you once the day approaches. You may zoom in on a particular game and figure the team you like is favored by seven points, as an example. When the lines are set, the team may be actually as high as 10 or 11.

Obviously, the oddsmaker has also recognized what you are looking at. Always remember the lines are set to get 50 percent wagering on both sides. Therefore, stick to your guns and don’t let that line difference sway your mind.

While many factors go into being a successful handicapper, I have found this system to be one of the best.

These games illustrate my point.

Saturday, Sept. 13

Penn St at Nebraska: After a 40-7 thrashing last year at the hands of Penn State, revenge will weigh heavily on the minds of the Huskers. The Nittany Lions lost three of the four starters on the offensive line. They also lost a couple key linebackers plus the biggest setback could replacing All American RB Larry Johnson. Penn State plays its first two games at home against Temple and Boston College, which should provide a 2-0 start. The early success should give us a decent line if Nebraska is your choice.

This is a big year for the Huskers and they have to get it turned around after last year’s disappointing season. The talent is certainly there and although a lot of the coaching staff has been replaced, head coach Frank Solich remains. I think this will be the biggest emotional game of the year for Nebraska, especially after last year’s result. This game will set the pace for the Huskers whole season and they will want to make a statement. NEBRASKA

Saturday, Sept. 20

Arizona St at Iowa: Last year was big for the Hawkeyes. In my opinion, this year’s team will follow what Illinois did after the 200l campaign when the Illini won the Big Ten. The Iowa offense lost heavily through graduation and 2002 became a disaster. This season looks similar. Looking ahead, Iowa will have three games under its belt by the time the Sun Devils roll into Iowa City. The Hawkeyes will be coming off a big road game against in-state rival Iowa State. Coming off last year’s 36-31 loss to the Cyclones, Iowa will bring everything into Ames. The Hawkeyes could be 3-0 or 2-1 by the time they face Arizona State.

The oddsmakers may keep this line very, very low because of the home field advantage and record factors. Iowa faces a very tough team in Arizona State, which may end up as one of the nation’s elite after the season ends. Iowa will have a big letdown here, and will especially miss last year’s starting quarterback Brad Banks and four offensive line starters. Banks was a huge part of last year’s strong team chemistry. The "flat spot" theory is really obvious after coming off Iowa State. Don’t let the line scare you, the Sun Devils should be all over this. ARIZONA ST.

In the next few weeks, look ahead and try to find some of these situations. I think you will be pleasantly surprised how high a percentage you will hit.

Remember, the big key is not to let the line sway you in your choice. Over the years I have had great success looking for these types of plays.

I think with a lot of practice and hard work you will find some of the same success.