It's time for the second edition of the Fading the Top 25 Weekly Free Picks report. This is something we started last year. Thanks to solid interest and some interesting findings, we wanted to keep this one going again this season. In last week's article, we took a broad look at the season and some teams that might be a good fade throughout the course of the year. With this week's article, we'll start things off with some individual game selections.
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The goal of this article is to track how teams in the weekly Top 25 do against the spread. In the national media, the only thing that is talked about is the straight up result. We're here to look a little deeper than that and figure out how the top-ranked teams do at the betting window. In addition, in this weekly article I'll be taking a look at which Top 25 teams I think are best to fade that particular week.
How did the Top 25 and these selections do last year? Note that these results are from the regular season only and do not include postseason games. The Top 25 overall covered the number 144 times (48.3 percent) and failed to cover 151 times (50.7 percent) while pushing 3 times (1 percent). The Fade the Top 25 Selections final tally from last year was 25 wins and 22 losses for a profit of $80. Each pick is assumed to be a $100 bet with the juice (assuming a standard -110 juice) accounted for as well, so bettors have a fully accurate idea of how the picks have done. The Associated Press Top 25 Poll will be the one used for this article.
There are several Top 25 teams playing FCS-level schools this week where there is no line available at least until the day of the game, so there aren't as many possibilities to choose from this week as there will be going forward.
Play #1- Western Michigan +18 (#156) vs. Michigan State- The Spartans of Michigan State must go to Waldo Stadium to take on the Western Michigan Broncos. This game is Friday night, and it will be televised on ESPNU. Western Michigan is billing this as a game of the century, and their stadium will be rocking. Michigan State should be a very good team this year, and this fade is more about the spot they are in than anything else. Who does Michigan State play in Week 2 this year? They host the Oregon Ducks. This is about as big of a look-ahead spot as you will ever see in college football. Michigan State badly wants to revenge last year's loss to the Ducks, and the Spartans can't get all that fired up against playing a team from the Mid-American Conference.
Western Michigan isn't just any random MAC team, either. The Broncos have a great young coach in P.J. Fleck. Fleck is a rising star in the industry, and he'll likely have a much bigger job in a few years. Western Michigan has a stud at running back in Jarvion Franklin. Zach Terrell was also a second-team MAC performer at quarterback in his sophomore season last year. Their top eight pass catchers from last year are back as well. The Broncos are a good team, and they could give the Spartans a scare.
Play #2- Akron +31.5 (#183) vs. Oklahoma- Oklahoma has a new offensive coordinator in Lincoln Riley, and they will be running the Air Raid now. I think there is a good chance that this could be a good system for the Sooners offense, but a system change of this magnitude often takes time to show positive results on the field. Are the players in place that need to be in order for Oklahoma to excel offensively right away? Baker Mayfield is the starting quarterback now, and he definitely knows the system well, but there are a lot of guys who have been at Oklahoma for a while and this will be their first time in a game situation in this offense. The Sooners defense is good, but they aren't a shutdown unit.
Additionally, Akron is a solid team. The Zips have a shot at winning the MAC East this year. They should be much-improved at the quarterback spot with improved depth, and the Zips defense has some highly-touted transfers stepping in to play this season. While I don't believe Akron has the talent to give Oklahoma a scare, they should be able to move the ball and keep this one closer than the line suggests.
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Read more articles by Aaron Smith
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