Peterson: Wagering on 2020 college football is more of a gamble than usual

Remember the picture of prominent Iowa legislators Tony Bisignano and Jack Whitver placing the state of Iowa’s first legal sports bet last August at Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino? Bisignano bet on the New York Yankees, and Whitver — who was a standout wide receiver at Iowa State — picked the Cyclones to win the 2019 Cy-Hawk game.

They didn’t do a lot of research with their picks. They didn’t need to — however, that may change as Iowa’s bettors plan strategy for Year Two.

Some football programs are reporting eye-opening numbers of positive COVID-19 tests, before contact workouts have even started. It’s not going to stop, either, so just how does that pertain to someone wanting to plop down a couple of bucks on a game when the season is scheduled to start at the end of August?

Beware: While positive outbreaks will be sporadically announced (they’re not mandated), no names or positions will be attached, no matter whether it’s one positive test or many. Schools won’t say if it’s the starting quarterback, the 1,000-yard rushing running back, an all-world defensive end, or a walk-on member of the scout team.

So, how do you place even a reasonably-informed wager?

You scan the social media for information. You talk to someone whose neighbor heard from a buddy the names of out-of-action players. You go with it. You cross fingers.

“The better schools are going to power through this year, because they’ve got the depth,” said Kenny White, publisher of the 2020 College Football Power Ratings magazine. “There’s going to be COVID cases. Kids will be out of the lineup. The bigger schools will be able to plug a guy in that’s just as good as the starter.”