The fifth edition of the Fading the Top 25 Weekly Free Picks article is here. 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.
If you faded the Top 25 in general last week, you did really well. Top 25 teams went 10-14 against the spread last week. No team ranked in the top six of last week's rankings covered the spread. Baylor had the week off, but the other five all lost against the number. Ohio State won by a touchdown as a 35-point favorite. Alabama lost outright to Ole Miss. Michigan State won by only 14 against Air Force. TCU gave up 37 points against SMU and didn't get even close to covering the spread. USC lost outright 41-31 to Stanford on their home field.
Last week's selections from the article went 2-2. Notre Dame and Louisville both cashed in as home underdogs. The fade of Ole Miss didn't work largely because Alabama turned the ball over five times. What on earth happened to Auburn? The Tigers aren't even close to the team they should have been this year, and they dropped all the way out of the rankings this week.
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- Western Michigan +31.5 (#333) vs. Ohio State- The Buckeyes are supremely talented, and I still believe they will get things going at some point, but this number is too big for the way they are playing right now. Ohio State's offense has problems on the offensive front, and the quarterback controversy seems to have hurt the play of both Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett. The line isn't getting the same push they were late last year when Ezekiel Elliot was running wild. The Buckeyes defense is elite, but having an elite defense alone doesn't allow you to cover massive spreads like this one.
Western Michigan is one of the better Mid-American Conference teams thanks to some tremendous recruiting by P.J. Fleck in recent years. The Broncos have a star at running back in Jarvion Franklin. While they aren't likely to score a lot of points against Ohio State, they should get on the board a couple times. The Western Michigan defense isn't great, but neither is the Hawaii or Northern Illinois defense. The Buckeyes will likely win by a solid amount, but this number is huge.
Play #2- Arizona State +5.5 (#396) vs. USC- The Arizona State Sun Devils haven't played particularly well in their first three games this year, but this line feels way off. Steve Sarkisian's USC Trojans were awful last week against Stanford. The Trojans defense is stacked with five-star recruits and yet they were torched by a Stanford offense that scored six points against Northwestern. It doesn't make any sense to me, and I think Sarkisian has to be on the hot seat soon.
The oddsmakers are showing a bunch of respect to USC because of their overall talent, but they haven't done anything in key games in the past year and a half to show they can put it all together. Last year, USC was beaten on the road by Boston College, Utah, and UCLA. Arizona State beat USC on the road last season as a 12-point underdog.
Todd Graham's team has struggled offensively thus far, but the defense is far better than they were last season. Most don't realize how amazing Arizona State's home-field advantage truly is, especially in a night game like this one. This is a party school with a great atmosphere, and I'll gladly take the points in a game that Arizona State could absolutely win.
Play #3- Kentucky -2.5 (#320) vs. Missouri- Maty Mauk and the Missouri Tigers offense looks atrocious right now. They were fortunate to win at home last weekend against UConn. The Tigers defense is still good, but they aren't as dominant on the defensive line as they have been in recent years.
Kentucky is a program that is certainly on the rise with Mark Stoops at the helm. The Wildcats have been getting better talent in recent recruiting classes, and it is starting to show on the field. Kentucky picked up a big road win at South Carolina two weeks ago before dropping a 14-9 contest at home against Florida last weekend. Kentucky's defense impressed me in that loss, though. They allowed only 245 total yards of offense against the Gators.
Missouri is the "Show Me" state, and the Tigers are going to have to show me that they have a higher level of play before I trust them. I think the line is telling here with an unranked team favored against a Top 25 foe.
Fade the Top 25 Selections Year to Date: 4 Wins 5 Losses (-$150)
Overall Top 25 ATS Record Last Week: 10 Wins 14 Losses
Overall Top 25 ATS Record This Season: 34 Wins 39 Losses
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