It's time for the fourth edition of the Fading the Top 25 Weekly Free Picks article. Last year was our first year for this report. Thanks to a lot of interest and some interesting findings, we wanted to keep this one going again in 2015.
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.
Last week's selections went 1-2 against the spread. The one loss of Michigan State -3.5 was particularly hard to take. The Spartans held a lead larger than the spread for the majority of the game, and the line was at -3 for much of the week. Hopefully, you were one of the people who pushed rather than losing with Michigan State. A game like that shows the importance of getting the best possible number, especially near the key number of three. Fresno State was a loser as well as Ole Miss blasted the Bulldogs. The winner was on BYU as they beat Boise State at home as an underdog.
The Top 25 overall in Week 2 went 11-13 ATS. Baylor's game vs. Lamar had no line all week. The SEC Top 25 teams were great fades last week in general. Auburn and Arkansas were at the top of the list, but Alabama, Missouri, LSU, Tennessee, and Georgia also failed to cover the number.
Play #1- Louisville +6 (#104) vs. Clemson- Clemson has a sensational quarterback in Deshaun Watson, but we haven't figured out much about their team other than that fact. Clemson has only two starters from last year playing on their defense right now. The Tigers drilled Wofford and Appalachian State in the first couple weeks. Those two teams couldn't score on the Clemson defense, but that shouldn't be considered a real test. Is the Clemson defense still elite? We'll find out starting this week. Receiver Mike Williams being out for the Clemson offense could hurt in this game as well.
Louisville now has their backs against the wall at 0-2 after a loss to Houston at home last week. The Cardinals can't afford to go 0-3, and they have a weeknight primetime game at home. Louisville unquestionably has more talent than they did a year ago, and Bobby Petrino should have his team ready to play. Grab the points with the home underdog here.
Play #2- Auburn +7.5 (#149) vs. LSU- Am I crazy for wanting to back Auburn at this point? I'll admit to being a little bit gun shy on this pick, but there is absolutely a ton of value. During the offseason, the game of the year line on this one was LSU -4. Now, the line has blown through the key number of 7. Auburn hasn't played well this year, but they do have an extremely high upside. If Jeremy Johnson can just be decent (he hasn't so far), this offense can be special. The defense is better under Muschamp this season.
LSU isn't a team I'd be interesting in laying this many points with against even a decent team. I love Leonard Fournette and the LSU defense, but without a passing game of any sort it is tough to beat a good team by more than a touchdown. Everyone in the stadium, including Auburn's defense, is going to know that LSU will be running the ball every play. The battle of the Tigers vs. the Tigers should be a tight game. Take the points.
Play #3- Alabama -6.5 (#152) vs. Ole Miss- Alabama hosts a night game at Bryant-Denny Stadium this Saturday. This is a great environment for football, and it gets even better at these late night games. Ole Miss has been dominant in the first two weeks, but look at the schedule. The Rebels trashed Tennessee-Martin and then thumped a Fresno State team that is apparently way down from where they were in recent years. Does that really get them ready for this contest? I don't think so.
Alabama took things easy last week, and I would have done the same thing. They had bigger fish to fry. Now, the Crimson Tide should come out ready to put their best effort in against the Rebels. Chad Kelly has looked good at quarterback for Ole Miss, but Kelly hasn't been tested. The Alabama defensive front is arguably the best in the nation, and they should be in Kelly's face a bunch on Saturday night. Kelly and the Rebels are going to have to prove it before I can believe that they will be ready for this big of a challenge. I'm laying the points with Alabama and expecting the defense to be great.
Play #4- Notre Dame +2.5 (#160) vs. Georgia Tech- Paul Johnson is a good coach, and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are a solid team. Having said that, Georgia Tech is getting too much love from the oddsmakers in this one. Notre Dame has lost their starting quarterback and running back, but the Fighting Irish are terrific in the trenches, and I don't think Brian Kelly will let his team just fold up the tent and give up on the season.
Notre Dame is a team that goes against the triple option often since they play Navy every single year. They have also played Air Force in two of the last four years. While most teams are totally thrown off by this Georgia Tech offense, I don't see Notre Dame being caught off guard.
Like Mississippi above, Georgia Tech has done nothing to prove they are worthy of this kind of respect yet this year. The Yellow Jackets have thumped Alcorn State and Tulane. Any team with a pulse could beat up on those two teams. Georgia Tech might be a Top 10 team and be capable of covering the number here, but they have to prove it first. Notre Dame is the play.
Fade the Top 25 Selections Year to Date: 2 Win 3 Losses (-$130)
Overall Top 25 ATS Record Last Week: 11 Wins 13 Losses
Overall Top 25 ATS Record This Season: 24 Wins 25 Losses
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