Reactionary college football systems for Game 2

September 7, 2022 11:10 PM

The start of a college football season can be a huge emotional event for teams. All of the work that went into the offseason is put to the test in the first game. The situational enormity of the opener, including the level of opponent, can also play a role in how a team responds going forward. 

Studying Game 2 results based on Game 1 performance is a form of system handicapping, and that is what I’ve done for this report. Here are five concepts to consider for teams playing Game 2.

System No. 1: FCS Letdown

Teams that faced an FBS opponent in Game 1 and are favored by 30 points or more versus an FCS opponent in Game 2 have gone just 62-81-5 ATS (43.3%) since 2012. 

Steve’s thoughts: This is a simple concept to grasp. FBS teams have a hard time getting up for an FCS opponent after playing a more important opening game. Oddsmakers increase the pressure by installing huge lines on these games.

Teams qualifying in 2022: There are 19 FBS-versus-FCS games with massive lines in Week 2, a few more than the yearly average. These are the huge favorites that could be in letdown mode after taking on FBS opponents in their openers. A handful of these teams played in real high-profile contests last weekend. 

— CLEMSON vs. Furman

— COASTAL CAROLINA vs. Gardner Webb

— GEORGIA vs. Samford

— JAMES MADISON vs. Norfolk State

— LSU vs. Southern

— MIAMI (OHIO) vs. Robert Morris

— MINNESOTA vs. Western Illinois

— N.C. STATE vs. Charleston Southern

— OLE MISS vs. Central Arkansas

— PURDUE vs. Indiana State

— RUTGERS vs. Wagner

— SAN DIEGO STATE vs. Idaho State

— SMU vs. Lamar

— SOUTH FLORIDA vs. Howard

— TCU vs. Tarleton State

— TROY vs. Alabama A&M

— TULANE vs. Alcorn State

— UCLA vs. Alabama State

— UTAH vs. Southern Utah

System No. 2: No Easy Rebound vs. FCS

FBS teams coming off a loss to an FBS opponent in Game 1 and favored by at least 24 points over an FCS team in Game 2 have gone just 32-54-1 ATS (37.2%) since 2012.

Steve’s thoughts: Losing an opener comes with a ton of disappointment for an FBS team, and having to get up and cover a big Game 2 point spread against an uninspiring FCS opponent proves very difficult. 

Teams qualifying in 2022: There are eight games that fit this trend, with a couple of other big favorites just short of being 24-point favorites. Of the eight FBS teams listed, three lost as favorites last week. Don’t assume a big bounce-back effort.

— CINCINNATI vs. Kennesaw State

— LSU vs. Southern

— MIAMI (OHIO) vs. Robert Morris

— PURDUE vs. Indiana State

— SAN DIEGO STATE vs. Idaho State

— SOUTH FLORIDA vs. Howard

— TROY vs. Alabama A&M

— UTAH vs. Southern Utah

System No. 3: FCS Opponents Not Adequate Prep for Conference Play

Double-digit conference favorites in Game 2 that played an FCS opponent in Game 1 are just 4-4 SU and 1-7 ATS (12.5%) over the last 10 seasons.

Steve’s thoughts: With just eight data samples in 10 years, this is a rare system, but it speaks to the dangers of starting a season versus an FCS opponent. Any system that shows double-digit favorites winning just 50% of their games outright is worthy of attention, and with more teams scheduling FCS opponents in their openers, the frequency of this angle figures to climb. No games qualify this season, unfortunately, but it’s a system worth mentioning for the future.

System No. 4: Home Turf Not Enough for Struggling Offenses

Teams that scored 10 points or fewer in a season-opening loss of 17 points or more are just 30-47-2 ATS (38.9%) when playing at home in Game 2 over the last decade.

Steve’s thoughts: Teams that score so little in opening blowout losses are often some of the worst teams in the country. Playing at home in Game 2 does little to turn that around. Oddsmakers aren’t responding fast enough to how bad these teams will be. 

Teams qualifying for 2022: We had another loss on this system last week, with Hawaii falling in ugly fashion to Western Kentucky. Here are eight more home teams to fade in Game 2, with only two of these games matching FBS foes.

— BALL STATE vs. Western Michigan

— BUFFALO vs. Holy Cross

— COLORADO STATE vs. Middle Tennessee State

— GEORGIA TECH vs. Western Carolina

— LA.-MONROE vs. Nicholls State

— OREGON vs. Eastern Washington

— TEMPLE vs. Lafayette

— TROY vs. Alabama A&M

System No. 5: Oddsmakers Unsure Early

Teams with line swings of 52 points or more from Game 1 to Game 2 have performed predictably. Teams that oddsmakers took down by 52 points or more are on a 30-15 ATS run (66.7%). Teams that oddsmakers boosted by 52 points or more are on a 15-21-2 ATS slide (41.7%). 

Steve’s thoughts: Obviously, the position of a team’s line from one week to another varies greatly based on opponents, but big swings can also stem from an overreaction by oddsmakers. If you see a team go from a 28-point underdog to a 24-point favorite, or vice versa, this early in a season, it’s worthy of further analysis. In both systems, you’re advised to fade the massive move.

Teams that oddsmakers took down by 52 points or more (for example, a 28-point favorite in Game 1 to a 24-point underdog in Game 2): There are five teams on the list. These are the teams you would BACK if playing this system.

— AKRON at Michigan State

— ARKANSAS STATE at Ohio State

— GA. SOUTHERN at Nebraska

— MARSHALL at Notre Dame

— TEXAS vs. Alabama

Teams that oddsmakers boosted by 52 points or more (for example, a 28-point underdog in Game 1 to a 24-point favorite in Game 2): There are three teams on the list. These are the teams you would FADE if playing this system.

— MIAMI (OHIO) vs. Robert Morris

— RUTGERS vs. Wagner

— TROY vs. Alabama A&M

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