The Week 13 edition of the Fading the Top 25 Weekly Free Picks article is here. It was the second big shakeup of the top of the rankings last weekend. Ohio State's loss at home to Michigan State was the biggest story. Ohio State didn't look ready to play in that game. The Buckeyes are almost certainly out of the College Football Playoff with that loss. Oklahoma State's loss at home to Baylor hurt them a great deal. Oklahoma is now in a better position, but they have to beat Oklahoma State on the road this weekend.
The Top 25 as a whole went 12-13 against the spread last week. Importantly though, the top eight teams in the nation went 1-7 ATS. We have found several times this year that while the Top 25 overall doesn't have a terrible ATS record, the teams at the very top have been bad to bettors. Last week's selections went 0-2. Baylor dominated Oklahoma State throughout that game despite playing with a third-string quarterback for much of the game. Penn State had more than enough chances to cover and win against Michigan, but they didn't convert a single red zone trip into a touchdown.
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.
Play #1- Mississippi State +1 (#216) vs. Mississippi- Mississippi is a one-point favorite on the road for the Egg Bowl. This is an underrated rivalry game. These two teams don't like each other a bit. Of course, Mississippi has that great win at Alabama from September, but since then they haven't impressed at all on the road. The Rebels were beaten 38-10 at Florida and 37-24 at Memphis. While Memphis is a good team, we've since found out that they aren't elite. Memphis has lost their last three games. Ole Miss also has an eight-point win at Auburn that was less than impressive.
Mississippi State has a really nice home-field advantage at Davis Wade Stadium. The Bulldogs have shown a lot of spunk this season. After losing to Alabama in a huge home contest, it would have been easy for Mississippi State to not show up last weekend at Arkansas. Instead, Mississippi State battled all game long and won outright as a five-point road underdog.
Dak Prescott is the best offensive player in this game by a wide margin. The Bulldogs defense has proven to be good against both the run and the pass. Mississippi State's effort has been more consistent this year, and I'll back them.
Play #2- Florida State -2 (#187) vs. Florida- The Florida Gators aren't the same team without Will Grier. That much has become totally clear in recent weeks. Florida was fortunate to win 9-7 at home against Vanderbilt a couple weeks ago. They then needed overtime to beat Florida Atlantic this past weekend. The Gators have only one loss this year, but they have been living on the edge all season.
Florida State has an elite rushing attack. The Seminoles played well at Clemson earlier this year, and they seem to be playing their best late in the season. On the other hand, Florida isn't playing nearly as well as they did early in the SEC slate. While many are talking about the Alabama vs. Florida SEC Championship Game, you know Florida State would love nothing more than to be able to ruin the Gators chances at reaching the College Football Playoff with a win here.
The oddsmakers have set Florida State as a road favorite against a Top-10 team in a tough place to play. I feel like this is one of those lines that lets you know what the right side is.
Play #3- Illinois +3.5 (#196) vs. Northwestern- The Illinois Fighting Illini need a win here to become bowl eligible. Illinois has a much-improved defense this year, and it's hard to see Northwestern scoring many points in this one. Illinois allowed only 28 points at home vs. Ohio State. They gave up 24 to Wisconsin. They held Nebraska to just 13 points. Northwestern's offense is averaging only 20.4 points per game.
Northwestern is coming off a huge road win at Wisconsin, and this is a tricky spot for them. Northwestern has several very unimpressive wins this year. They have wins by only seven against Purdue and five against Ball State on the season. This game means less to the Wildcats than it does to the Fighting Illini, and that's important this time of the year.
Two years ago Illinois lost by a field goal at home against Northwestern. Last year, Illinois went on the road and stunned Northwestern. The Fighting Illini seem to match up well with the Wildcats, and I'll take the home underdog in this contest.
Fade the Top 25 Selections Year to Date: 15 Wins 19 Losses (-$490)
Overall Top 25 ATS Record Last Week: 12 Wins 13 Losses
Overall Top 25 ATS Record This Season: 133 Wins (48.5%) 141 Losses (51.5%)
Read more articles by Aaron Smith
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