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Turnover Luck 2016 Converts to 2017 Success!

August 18, 2017 | Posted By Freddy Wills


Turnovers are certainly something you can handicap.  Everyone knows that certain teams are more prone to turning the ball over based on a variety of factors such as poor offensive line play or poor QB decision making, poor receiver hands or even a lack of hustle or just luck.  Sometimes the ball does not bounce your way and that was the case after six weeks last year we bet on teams that had a 30% fumble recovery rate.  To put that in perspective on how unlucky we were handicapping games.  The 128th team in the nation last year was Purdue with a 28% recovery rate and #126 was Charlotte at 32%.  What does it all mean?  It’s hard to see the same thing happening in back to back years.  At minimum we should revert back to the mean of 50%.  Teams on my radar this year that had poor fumble recovery rates are, Oklahoma State, Texas, Arkansas, Kentucky, Connecticut and Notre Dame all were under 40%.

Phil Steele has a great article in his magazine that breaks this down even further and even takes a look at the luckiest teams in the nation from a year ago and hypothesizes that those teams should not be as lucky in 2017.   HIs article is Turnovers = Turnaround, and while he is mainly talking about teams straight up record we can use this to find value on teams that are under the radar a bit.

Image result for fumble recovery college football

Teams to fade:

Since 1991 college football teams wiht a +11 or more turnover ratio had a weaker/same record 77% of the time (275/358).  If we want to be even more confident lets take a look at teams with a +14 turnover ratio.  The results are 88.6% will have a weaker/same record as the year before.  Four teams fall into that situation in 2017 – Washington, Ohio State, Western Michigan, and San Diego State all worthy of fading or at minimum second guessing backing these teams.  Other teams that were +11 or more are as follows, Kansas State, Old Dominion, BYU, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, Idaho, Kent State.  Isn’t it remarkable that Oklahoma State only recovered 32% of the fumbles in their games yet they were +11 in turnover margin.

Teams to back:

Since 1991 teams who were -10 or more in turnover margin improved or stayed the same in the following year 80% of the time (241/301).  Impressive as there are many bad teams on the list for 2017 that we can effectively take a look at and back as we know they will have value.  Your guess Purdue at -17 is on top of the list and there are a lot of things to like about Purdue in my opinion as their new head coach Jeff Brohm takes over.  Nobody is giving that team a shot, but a closer look reveals they were not as bad as they looked.  Other teams topping the list were Southern Miss -17, East Carolina -16, Bowling Green -16, Kansas -14, Texas State -14, ULM -11, Umass -10, Ball State -10.  I’d like to pick out a few here to talk about.

East Carolina had just 3 wins a season ago and they had just one game where they were positive in turnover margin.  Unfortunately this has been a team on the decline the last two years, but they are still a team worth looking at in my opinion.  This is a team that nearly upset South Carolina early in the year last season on the road.  It was Scottie Montgomery’s first year as head coach and I Only expect improvements.  They should be much more competitive this year.  Montgomery, who was an assistant under David Cutcliffe at Duke had to have taken a lot of good information and he even acquires a Duke transfer at QB in Thomas Sirk, who in 2015 had a 16TD/ 8 INT ratio.  Circled games – East Carolina plays South Florida to open league play on September 30th at home after a week off.  South Florida will be coming off a big game against Temple and should be heavy favorites.  East Carolina will likely want to prove their worth.  Overall it’s a tough schedule and tons of opportunities to take them as a dog.   Overall I think they will be more competitive and a lot of it comes down to their luck.

Kansas is another team that nobody will be excited to get up to the ticket window and confidently put their money on, but believe me when I say I don’t mind betting on a team that nobody wants a part of.  Kansas was extremely unlucky last year at -16 turnover margin and won just two games and nobody is expecting this team to do anything once again as Vegas set the o/u on wins at 3.  A closer look and this was a team that got better as the year progressed.  They nearly beat TCU, Iowa State, and they defeated Texas at home and were competitive for long periods against other solid teams.  This is David Beaty’s third year and he returns 8 guys on offense.  They will have Peyton Bender back for another year with a very good group of receivers.  This offense will keep them in games and while they only averaged 20.3ppg last year we saw some consistency down the stretch last year and I’m calling for over a TD increase in their ppg which will lead to more covers in my opinion.  Circled games – Kansas State at home is one game you have to look at it since it’s a rivalry game.  Now I never like going against Bill Snyder, but this is a spot as they will likely be huge favorites.  A year ago Kansas was only out gained by 40 yards in this match up, but had 3 turnovers.  Kansas State will be coming off their match up against Oklahoma which will either make or break their season.  Either way in a hang over spot if one exists with Snyder.  I think the line will be inflated a bit and I think Kansas will be looking at this game to measure themselves.  Oh Kansas State also made the list of teams that were lucky in turnover margin a year ago.

Which made me want to look at what other games we have between lucky and unlucky teams as opportunities:

Oklahoma State (fade list) at Kansas (back list) projected spread 26.5.  This is the last game of the year.  Cowboys trailed this game with 4 minutes left in the 2nd quarter.  Might they be looking ahead to a conference championship game at this time?

BYU (fade List) won 9 games last year and most likely will win less even with 13 regular season games.  They play East Carolina (back list) on October 21st.

Wisconsin (fade list) won 11 games last year and have a lot of hype entering this season.  Mostly because their schedule is a piece of cake.

Kent State (fade list) for being lucky went just 3-9 and are expected to be even worse this year.  They open up agaisnt Clemson and also play Lousiville on the road this year.  They’ll face Bowling Green (back list) in October and it could be a long year.

I am a professional handicapper solely concentrating on college football.  I’m the #1 career profit leader on multiple handicapping networks for college football.  With 7 out of 8 winning seasons the consistency is there with an average 47.55% ROI per season (90 year stock market average = 10%)

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