Though some of the references are outdated per se, the theories very much still apply,
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 effected 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. For the “lunch pail” cliché regurgitations, need proof? Okay Boise is the latest small college dynasty and no surprise they had back-to-back superstar quarterbacks leading the way in Ryan Dinwiddie and Jared Zabransky. Before that Marshall set the “fly in the BCS ointment” standard with Chad Pennington, Byron Leftwich and Randy Moss leading the way. Last year Utah had Alex Smith leading them to BCS bowl victory. The highest ranked non-BCS team ever was Fresno in 2001 with David Carr. The only other Top 10 final rankings were Miami Ohio with a guy by the name of Ben Roethlisberger and the previously referenced Thundering Herd.
The highest end of season ranking was Tulane with Patrick Ramsey behind the center. The highest ever preseason ranking was CSU with Bradlee Van Pelt calling the signals. They actually finished the year with the same No. 15 position that they started the season.
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.
Best sports picks are from Joe Duffy.