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Sports Handicapping Information

I am handicapping the Virginia vs Florida State game, scheduled for 8/31/02. Before diving into the FoxSheet for this particular game, I take a minute to consider my overall thoughts or “gut feelings” on the matchup. Both teams are playing their second game of the year. Virginia lost its first game in a heartbreaker as its freshman QB fumbled at the one yard line in the last 10 seconds. The Cavaliers lost that one to Colorado State 35-29, as a 1 pt dog. Florida St, on the other hand, comes off a dramatic win as the Seminoles were able to stuff Iowa St’s QB short of the goal line as he tried to run in for the game tying score. Florida St won 38-31, but fell well short of covering as a 22 point favorite. In general, from those two games I would conclude that Virginia has to be completely deflated going into this game vs a national power, while Florida St finds itself fortunate to be 1-0. Additionally, with the freshman QB, a certain amount of intimidation factor will come into play. Along those lines, I’d say advantage FSU for this week. I’ll see if I can substantiate that thought with anything on the FoxSheet. You’ll notice that I break my analysis up into each section on the FoxSheet. That way I not only don’t overlook something, but it also ensures that I don’t put too much stock into one particular section.

At this point I will only be looking to find an edge either with the spread or ATS. I will come back later and analyze the halftime FoxSheet and the teaser FoxSheet for anything revealing. As for the ATS FoxSheet, it notes that Florida St is the home team and they are laying -26 points currently to Virginia. The line opened at FSU -27. I quickly check the upcoming weather expected for Saturday’s game and it says to expect clear skies, but warm & humid. These conditions are common for a Florida game in August so I would expect FSU to have a small edge based on familiarity with the humidity. I also see on the introductory section that Virginia is bring 13 starters & 40 lettermen back from its 2001 team. The Seminoles return 15 starters & 41 lettermen, so I’d give another small edge here to FSU.

StatFox Super Situations
I move on to the first handicapping model, the StatFox Super Situations. Here I find that there is one Situation applied for this game, and it favors Florida St. The situation is rated as 1 star based on a 36-17 past record. It says to play on home favorites of 21.5-28 points after a game where they won straight up but didn’t cover the spread. Makes sense to me and confirms my earlier thoughts about the momentum or motivational edge for Florida St. I personally wouldn’t bet any game solely on this system, but still I give another small edge to the Seminoles.

StatFox Game Estimator
The game estimator is the quickest place to look to see if one team has a significant statistical edge in the game. Even more than the projected score, I like to look for the projected rushing and passing stats. These are a good indicator of which team will have the edge at the line of scrimmage. After all, the line of scrimmage battle is where most games are won and lost as special teams and turnovers are impossible to predict. In this particular game, Florida St is projected to get a healthy edge in passing yards per attempt, my personal favorite stat to look for. The Seminoles are projected to get 12.6 YPP while UVA is projected to get just 6.4 YPP. In total yards per play, the FSU has a 8.5 to 4.9 edge. In scanning the potential trends for this game there is one that stands out to me: Florida St is 23-3 ATS when they outgain opponents by over 3.4 ypp. That would apply to this game based on the estimator so to me, this is an outstanding trend, and I give another solid edge to Florida St. Furthermore, the estimator projects a 45-17 win for FSU, close to the number and not enough to give an edge, but still a cover for FSU.

StatFox Powerline
The powerline section is a simple indicator of the relative strength of the teams. The FoxSheet powerline for this game indicates Florida St should be giving about 27 points. Since they are giving 26 on the line, there isn’t an edge here for either team. One thing I like to keep in mind here is that, particularly for college, much of this number is based on games prior to this year. Therefore, as the season goes on I put more and more stock into the powerline.

StatFox Matchup Power Trends
The power trends section is usually one I rely on heavily. The trends listed here give a good indication of how each teams fares against opponents that fit a similar profile to the current opponent. Unfortunately, there are no trends that reveal either a very good or very poor performance history in games like this week’s. This is quite unusual as with all the trends tracked here normally reveal something. To satisfy my curiosity, I link to the View All Matchup Power Trends button at the bottom of the section. Sure enough, both Virginia and Florida St have matchup trends performing at or near a level of .500 ATS. I conclude that the matchup power trends section reveals no edge for either team.

StatFox Situational Power Trends
The situational power trends are very helpful in that they indicate how a team does off a loss or win, or how they do at home or as a favorite, etc. This is as complete of a trend list as you’ll find anywhere and rarely will you find a game where neither team has a handful of significant trends applicable to the current contest. For this game, Florida St has a list of 17 trends, many with star ratings, while Virginia has just one relevant trend favoring it. Most of the trends favoring Florida St explain how well the team has played at home, as a favorite, and in conference games. One of my favorites from the list is a trend that says FSU is 26-12 ATS at home as a favorite of more than 21.5 points since ’92. The average score in those games is 49.2-10.3, a 39 ppg win margin. Obviously the Seminoles jump on teams at home. From this section I would give Florida St another significant edge overall.

Advanced Team Statistics
The advanced team statistics table is valuable for finding the situational stats (home/road, grass/turf, conference/non-conference) that aren’t available at many sources. With some teams it is remarkable how different their performance level can be in various situations. As far as our game is concerned, there is only one game of stats logged on the table so I won’t put too much stock in it at this point. However, like the powerline section above, I will rely on the information here much heavier as the season goes on. Just below the main stat tables is a revealing number which I positively check each game I wager, that is the average power rating of opponents played statistic. Some teams historically pile up blowout wins and big stats against lesser opponents. Normally a large edge here for either team will reveal that. In this game, Florida State’s first opponent Iowa St, had a 32 power rating, while Virginia’s opponent Colorado St, had a 30. Therefore, no true edge for either team.

Schedules and Results
The schedules and results table is one I use to quickly check either team for streaks. With just one game under the belt for 2002, there isn’t much to be found here yet. Again this section will be analyzed closer and closer as the year goes on. Some of the things I normally like to look for on a team’s schedule are 1) if they’ve won or lost SU or ATS in a number of consecutive games 2) If they’ve played or will be playing a streak of games either at home or away 3) If either team is on a stretch where they are scoring or yielding an unusually large or small amount of points and 4) If either team is coming off or heading into a “big” game against a tough team or a top rival. With Florida St and Virginia each playing its first conference game and with just one game in, neither team holds anything significant on the schedule.

Head-to-Head History
Not a game goes by where I don’t consult the head to head history section before making my wager. For whatever reason, some teams just historically enjoy success in some series’. Getting over the hump can sometimes take many years for some teams. This is true for both the straight up and ATS results. In this series, the chart reveals that Florida St has won 8 of the last 10 ATS vs Virginia, and is 2-0 SU & ATS in the last two meetings. The Seminoles outscored the Cavaliers 80-10 in those two games. The 2000 game has a line similar to this one’s at –31. In that game, Florida St threw for 426 yards and UVA had 5 turnovers. The chart goes on to reveal that Florida St has covered four of the last 5 at home vs Virginia. I would conclude that Florida St has enjoyed a lot of success in the series vs Virginia and give another healthy edge to the Seminoles.

Common Opponent Stats
The common opponents stats section is a valuable tool for games involving teams in different conferences or divisions. It comes in handy when the two teams in question haven’t played against each other in a significant time. This occurs often in early season college games and bowl games. For our matchup, Florida St and Virginia are both in the ACC and have had a number of games against each other to look back at so I personally don’t put as much stock into this section as I do in the Head-to-Head history section.

Line Tracker
Our line has moved from Florida St –27 to –26 since opening. The Line Tracker section tells me how past games with this type of line movement have fared. Since ’92, there have been 6 games where the home team opened at –27 and closed at –26. In those games the home team won straight up all six times and was 5-1 ATS. This 83% winning percentage is good enough to gain Florida St another edge indicator.

Money Tracker
The money tracker section tracks the history of line movements involving each of the two teams. From it, I can get a good indication if the public has a historically good feel for a team. In our particular game, the public seems to be favoring Virginia as they have moved the line a point in the Cavalier’s direction. Looking at past results, it seems that the public, at 38.9% the L3 years, has been wrong more often than right when wagering on the Virginia games. Conversely, the public has been right 56.5% of the time when moving the line in FSU games over the last three seasons. These numbers indicate a small edge for Florida St, but in my experience don’t warrant enough to consider them heavily. Normally, I ignore these results unless a percentage is above 63% or below 37%.

If you are truly into your football, you’ll have a good idea going into the game if any key players will be missing or hampered in the contest. However, if not, it is always wise to check both this injury table, and the teams’ local news coverages in the introductory section. Often times, a late line movement will be directly related to some late breaking injury information, and one or two key players missing can make the difference in a team winning or losing a game. For this game, Virginia is listed with a few minor injuries, and Florida St appears to be at or near full strength. No edge for either team.

As I mentioned in opening, I had a gut feeling regarding which team might have the edge in this game. I surmised that Florida St would be the team I figured would win and cover the game based on certain motivational factors and gut feeling. In analyzing the FoxSheet I found nothing to sway me from my suspicions. In fact, not one section had anything that might indicate some sort of edge for Virginia. On the other hand, I found edges for Florida St in the situations, estimated stats, situational trends, and line movement tracker. Combining all of this would garner consideration for laying a wager on Florida St. The amount would be somewhere around my average wager size, as there were still a couple of things that I look for in a “5 star” game that weren’t there. First, there wasn’t a substantial number of situations in favoring FSU. Also, there was no edge indicated on the estimator, another “yellow” flag for me. In general, the combination of these two favoring a certain team when complimenting my own gut feelings make for my most confident plays. With that in mind, for this game I would probably rate Florida St a 3 star play and wager accordingly.
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