NCAA Football Betting: Fading the Top 25 Weekly Free Picks
by Aaron Smith - 8/27/2014
It's the beginning of another exciting college football season. For college football fans, it feels like Christmas in August with the games getting going on Thursday. There's an extra reason to be excited about college football this year. At the end of the season, there will be a four-team playoff. This playoff system won't be perfect, but I am convinced it will be a large improvement over the old system.
Doc's Sports always wants to look for ways to help bettors make money. This year I'm going to be tracking against the spread records of the Associated Press Top 25. How do Top 25 teams do ATS? Are there chances to go against Top 25 teams that are overrated? In this weekly article, I'll make a few picks each week where I go against a team in the Top 25, and I'll keep track of my results so readers can follow along. For this experiment, all plays will be flat bets to win $100 on each game.
Which teams did the best ATS in the Top 25 last year? Auburn was 12-2 ATS last season, but remember they did start the season outside the Top 25. Missouri was 12-2 ATS as well. Florida State, who went on to win the BCS Championship, finished the year 11-3 ATS. The Georgia Bulldogs were the worst Top 25 at covering the number. The Bulldogs were 3-9-1 ATS last season. Texas A&M was 5-8 ATS.
How about looking back over the past five seasons? Stanford is 43-23-1 ATS in their last 67 games while in the Top 25. Kansas State is 39-23-1 ATS. On the opposite end of the spectrum, USC is 28-37 ATS. Georgia is 29-37-1 ATS since 2009. Notre Dame is third-worst at 27-34-3 ATS.
Narrowing it down even further, Baylor is an impressive 23-8 ATS in their last 31 as a home favorite while in the AP Top 25. That should come as no surprise to bettors who have seen the Bears roll up huge numbers at home in recent years. On the other side, Notre Dame is 17-33-3 ATS in their last 53 as a home favorite. The Michigan State Spartans have been road warriors at 16-6-2 ATS on the road while in the Top 25 since 2009. Alabama is 8-18 ATS in their last 26 games following a straight up loss, so the few times the Crimson Tide do lose, they don't bounce back right away.
Let's get to the picks for Week 1. It's time to start looking for some overrated teams in the top 25.
Play #1 Navy +16.5 (#158) vs. Ohio State: The Ohio State Buckeyes are ranked in the Top 5, but very few people think they are a Top-5 team now that star quarterback Braxton Miller is out for the year with an injury. The Buckeyes were -17.5 at most books before Miller was announced out. Initially, the line quickly moved down to Ohio State -12 at most books. Strangely, some significant money has moved the Buckeyes all the way back up to a 16.5-point favorite in this one. Navy returns 15 starters from last year's team, and this should be the best Navy team we have seen in several years. Keenan Reynolds is a perfect quarterback for the system. While I think that JT Barrett will eventually do well for Ohio State, there is sure to be a learning curve. I'll take Navy against Ohio State this weekend.
Play #2 Hawaii +17 (#196) vs. Washington: I really like Washington's hire of Chris Petersen, but it often takes some time to get a new scheme into place. The Huskies have a bit of a sneaky tough spot here in Hawaii. It's always tough for visiting teams in Hawaii because when you are in Hawaii it can be really hard to focus on a football game. Hawaii went 1-11 last year, but they were playing much better at the end of the season. Look for Norm Chow's team to be competitive this year. Hawaii only lost by 17 to a good USC team in their season opener last year. Washington has a ton of new faces on offense, and I see them having a hard time covering a big number. Hawaii should keep this closer than most people expect.
Play #3 Rice +21.5 (#175) vs. Notre Dame: Notre Dame hasn't proven they should be laying this kind of a number against a team that had a lot of success last year. Remember, Rice won the Conference USA title game last season and finished 10-4. Rice returns 12 starters from that team. Notre Dame is 18-36-3 ATS as a home favorite while ranked in the Top 25 since 2003. I don't see the Fighting Irish having the high-powered offense necessary to cover a more than three-touchdown spread.
Top 25 Picks Record: 0 Wins 0 Losses
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