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REGIONAL or HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
Over the course of the last 20 seasons, 19 bowl games have been played at one of the teams' home field. The host teams are 11-8 straight up and 11-7 against the spread in those games.
In 2012, only one team will be hosting a bowl game, and that is San Diego State, who welcomes BYU to Qualcomm Stadium for the Poinsettia Bowl game. The Aztecs are three-point underdogs in that game, and for the record, home 'dogs are 5-2 ATS in that group.
Preparing for several weeks to play a game at your home field is certainly advantageous. The advantage that isn't always as glaring, and therefore often overlooked, is a regional advantage. There are many examples of teams playing bowl games in their home state, perhaps less than three hours from their campus. The chances for that team to feel as if they are the home team by rallying their fans to the cause are much greater than the opponent, who, along with its fans, has to endure more rigorous travel to get to a bowl game. The examples of the latter are many fold.
From last year alone, Florida beat Ohio State at the Gator Bowl, Texas A&M beat Northwestern at the Texas Bowl, Rutgers turned back Iowa State at the Pinstripe Bowl, Baylor came up big over Washington at San Antonio in the Alamo Bowl, NC State won the Belk Bowl in Charlotte against Louisville, Louisiana-Lafayette was a winner at the Superdome in New Orleans over San Diego State, Houston beat Penn State in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, and Florida State beat Notre Dame in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
Losing teams in would be regional advantage games were California (Holiday Bowl), and UCLA (Fight Hunger). If you're keeping score, that was 8-2 against the spread. That is a record worth noting.
You will find games like this on every year's bowl card, as organizers do this to increase attendance figures and enhance the experience for the travelers. The trouble for oddsmakers is that this home field edge is impossible to quantify, and as a result, most bowl games not at a specific home field are treated as neutral games. Therefore, this is an easy spot for bettors to pick up at least a couple points of value on a line.
Here's a look at the games that would qualify as regional advantage games on the 2012-13 bowl board:
Teams listed first have the Regional Edge
Friday, Dec. 21
Beef O' Brady's Bowl at Tropicana Field from St. Petersburg, FL
Central Florida vs. Ball State
Saturday, Dec. 22
New Orleans Bowl at Superdome from New Orleans, LA
Louisiana-Lafayette vs. East Carolina
Wednesday, Dec. 26
Little Caesar's Bowl at Ford Field from Detroit, MI
Central Michigan vs. Western Kentucky
Thursday, Dec. 27
Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium from Charlotte, NC
Duke vs. Cincinnati
Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium from San Diego, CA
UCLA vs. Baylor
Friday, Dec. 28
Independence Bowl at Independence Stadium from Shreveport, LA
Louisiana-Monroe vs. Ohio
Friday, Dec. 28
Meineke Car Care Bowl at Reliant Stadium from Houston, Texas
Texas Tech vs. Minnesota
Saturday, Dec. 29
Armed Forces Bowl at Amon G Carter Stadium from Fort Worth, TX
Rice vs. Air Force
Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium from Bronx, NY
Syracuse vs. West Virginia
Alamo Bowl at Alamodome from San Antonio, TX
Texas vs. Oregon State
Monday, Dec. 31
Music City Bowl at LP Field from Nashville, TN
Vanderbilt vs. NC State
Tuesday, Jan. 1
Rose Bowl at Rose Bowl Stadium from Pasadena, CA
Stanford vs. Wisconsin