College Teams with Potential Value ATS
by Trevor Whenham - 09/14/2007
In college football, most people would say that their favorite team is Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, USC, Florida or one of the other powerhouses, or maybe the local team or their alma mater. If you ask a serious college football bettor, though, their favorites last year would include Central Michigan (11-2 against the spread), Nevada and East Carolina (both 10-2 ATS). Those are the teams that were practically ATMs last year. They were consistently reliable bets because they were solid, talented squads that stayed far enough out of the public eye to be consistently under appreciated and undervalued. If you got on the college football betting bandwagons of those teams early, you were a very happy camper last season.
It didn't just take winning teams to make astute bettors happy. Those that backed the opponents of Iowa (1-10 ATS) and Fresno State (1-11 ATS) also likely enjoyed last year's season more than the average bettor. A team that consistently fails to meet expectations is just as good for the bottom line as one that consistently exceeds them.
With just two games in the books it is too early to know for sure which teams are going to be betting stars. We can, however, start to identify teams that may have what it takes. Here are four teams that have got the kind of start that may make them worth backing.
Bowling Green - The Falcons aren't a great team, but they are clearly better than people expect. Not only have they started the season at 2-0 ATS, but they have done it against two Big Ten teams. The Big Ten, of course, isn't as dominant as it should be, but it's still a major conference, so Bowling Green has surprised some teams that are better than what they will face in the conference. They were 14-point underdogs against Minnesota, yet they won outright in overtime. Bettors were unimpressed, installing them as 17.5-point underdogs against Michigan State. They only lost by 11, giving a nice cushion for their backers. They have a sophomore quarterback, Tyler Sheehan, who is settling nicely into the starting role and showing that he has some game. The team is expected to be pretty bad in their conference, so they could surprise, and cover some spreads, if they keep playing like they have been to date.
Cincinnati - The Bearcats made a coaching change in the offseason. Brian Kelly became the new coach after Mark Dantonio made a controversial departure to Michigan State. So far the new program seems to be fitting like a glove. They are 2-0, they have allowed just six points, and they absolutely dismantled Oregon State. Cincinnati is no stranger to betting success - they were 7-3-1 ATS last season, and they went eight weeks without a betting loss starting in week four when they covered easily against Virginia Tech. Though their conference, the Big East, is getting a lot more attention these days, the Bearcats are on nobody's radar. Kelly is a very good coach (he was the one who led Central Michigan to 11-1 ATS last year), and he could lead the team to the betting promise land.
UNLV - The Rebels were 25.5-point underdogs to Wisconsin last week, yet they only allowed their opponents to score 20 points. A defense that can do that combined with a maturing offense and a team no one expects much from can lead to betting success. Freshman quarterback Travis Dixon is raw, but he is exciting and obviously very talented. He leads the team in rushing, and he has completed 63 percent of his passes so far. He seemed unbothered by what Wisconsin could throw at him. That bodes well in the conference portion of the schedule. Their 4-6-1 ATS mark last year was unimpressive, but they were 3-1 ATS in their last four, so they clearly were getting their act together. The team is also coming off a 2-10 season, so the public won't be backing them at all. The school's basketball team was a pleasant surprise last year, so why can't the football team be as well.
UTEP - A team that is versatile and can adapt to the style of their opponents is one that is likely worth a bet. Mike Price's team definitely fits that bill. They won a 10-6 defensive snoozer against New Mexico as four point underdogs to start the season, and then came out the next week and covered as 25-point underdogs in a wild 45-31 offensive shootout against Texas Tech the next week. They aren't expected to be a very good team this year, so that could lead to some big spreads against teams like Southern Miss and Houston. UTEP does well against big numbers - they are 6-2 ATS against their eight biggest spreads over the last two seasons.