The Week 12 edition of the Fading the Top 25 Weekly Free Picks article is ready to go. After a big shakeup in the polls last week, the Top 5 remained the same in this week's College Football Playoff Rankings. That doesn't mean the Top 25 teams did well at the betting window last week, though. In fact, the AP Top 25 as a whole last week went an ugly 9-15 against the spread. Unfortunately, as has happened a couple times this year, despite the Top 25 doing poorly, the selections at made at the end of the article weren't the correct ones. I faded the wrong teams last week.
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Last week's selections went 1-2 for a second straight week. Baylor -2.5 went down in flames as the Bears defense couldn't get off the field. Oklahoma did whatever they wanted on offense, and Baylor definitely missed Seth Russell as well. Houston was a loser as well as the Cougars did come back to win the game, but they didn't cover the spread. It was a miraculous fourth-quarter comeback to stay unbeaten for Houston, but that didn't do anything for my selection. Washington State +9.5 was a great pick. The Cougars won outright at UCLA and were never in any real danger of not covering the spread.
The goal of this article is to track how teams in the weekly Top 25 do against the spread. We're here to look a little deeper than most 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.
Only a couple plays this week because there are multiple lines not yet available due to injuries, and some of the Top 25 is either off or playing against an FCS school. There is less to choose from this week.
Play #1- Penn State +4 (#376) vs. Michigan- The Michigan Wolverines have been playing with fire on the road of late. They should have lost to Minnesota, but the Golden Gophers botched the end of the game in a huge way. They appeared beaten by Indiana before making a late comeback and winning. Indiana has now proven that they can get close, but they can't get over the top.
Michigan now must travel to Penn State to take on a Nittany Lions team that is always hard to beat at their place. The last two times Michigan has traveled to Happy Valley to take on Penn State, they have been a small favorite and they have lost outright. I think there's absolutely a chance that happens here, and getting more than a field goal, I like Penn State.
The Nittany Lions defense is great at pressuring the quarterback, and they are solid at stopping the run as well. Penn State is first in the nation in sacks with 42 on the season thus far. Michigan obviously respects a team like Penn State, but it would be hard for them to not at least have one eye on the massive game next week at home against Ohio State. Penn State matches up well, and they are in a nice situational spot as well.
Play #2- Oklahoma State Pick'em (#370) vs. Baylor- This is an interesting line. Oklahoma State hasn't gotten enough respect all year. The Cowboys are 4-1 ATS so far this year on their home field. I've always thought they have one of the more underrated home-field advantages in the nation. Setting this line here tells me the oddsmakers think Baylor is significantly better than Oklahoma State on a neutral field. With Seth Russell, that might be true. Without Russell, I don't think it's the case.
Let's also look at Baylor's motivation level for this game. The team obviously knows they aren't going to be a part of the College Football Playoff after losing at home to Oklahoma last week. How can they be as hyped up for this game? I'm not suggesting Baylor is going to tank this game, but I do believe Oklahoma State will be far more motivated in this situation because all of their dreams are still attainable.
Past history is definitely on Oklahoma State's side as well. Baylor is 0-8 ATS in their last eight trips to Stillwater. Overall, Baylor is 3-13 ATS in their last 16 games against Oklahoma State. Oklahoma State is 17-8 ATS in their last 25 home games. I'll side with Oklahoma State in this contest.
Fade the Top 25 Selections Year to Date: 15 Wins 17 Losses (-$370)
Overall Top 25 ATS Record Last Week: 9 Wins 15 Losses
Overall Top 25 ATS Record This Season: 121 Wins (48.6%) 128 Losses (51.4%)
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