The Week 5 edition of the Fading the Top 25 Weekly Free Picks article is here. We started this report last year. Thanks to a lot of interest and some interesting findings, we wanted to keep this one going again in 2015.
For the second week in a row, if you faded the Top 25 last week, you did very well. The Top 25 as a whole went 9-13 against the spread. Nos. 1-4 all failed to cover the spread, and that's a trend we've been seeing in recent weeks. It seems that the perception of these top-rated teams is too high, at least for the time being.
A nice 2-1 week for the Fade the Top 25 free picks last weekend. The lone loser was Arizona State, who appeared to forget there was a game to be played while USC humiliated them on their home field. Both Western Michigan and Kentucky cashed in last week. Western Michigan played Ohio State relatively tough. I would argue that game was even closer than the final score would indicate. The Buckeyes played better than they did in their previous game, but they still have a lot of room for improvement. Kentucky won and covered against a Missouri team that has been a major disappointment. The Tigers offense just can't get anything going.
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- Clemson +1 (#212) vs. Notre Dame- Notre Dame has been excellent so far this year, but this is a difficult spot for the Fighting Irish. They have suffered as many key injuries as any team in the country. Notre Dame played one game on the road so far this year, and they needed a last-second touchdown pass to beat the Virginia Cavaliers. Virginia has been terrible since that game, and it really surprised me to see Notre Dame getting this much love in the betting market.
Clemson has had more than two weeks to prepare for this game. They last played on Sept. 17, when they beat Louisville on the road. Clemson's defense lost a bunch of talent from last year, but I've been impressed with what they have done so far this year. On the offensive end, Deshaun Watson is a budding star. The Tigers have a balanced offense that should be able to move the football and score on everyone they play. Additionally, Clemson's "Death Valley" is a very tough place to play. Notre Dame is a little overrated at this point, and I'll fade them and back a solid Clemson team.
Play #2- Texas A&M -6.5 (#142) vs. Mississippi State- Speaking of tough places to play, this game is at Kyle Field. This is a night game, and the crowd will be going crazy for this one. Texas A&M is coming off a game where there offense didn't get things going as well as expected, but they still found a way to win that one in overtime against Arkansas. I like to back a team that fought through adversity on the road to win in their previous game. That's a great confidence-building victory.
Mississippi State has been good this year. The Bulldogs lone loss was at home to a very good LSU team. While the Bulldogs offense has looked solid, they haven't played a team with even close to as many weapons as Texas A&M. The Aggies passing game is dynamic, and the running game is better than most realize. I expect the Bulldogs defense to get exposed in this one.
Dak Prescott is a tremendous quarterback, but he I don't think he has the playmakers around him that he needs to win a shootout at Texas A&M. Mississippi State needs this game to be low-scoring if they are going to win. Look for Texas A&M's offense to fire on all cylinders as they win big.
Play #3- Kansas State +8 (#147) vs. Oklahoma State- Oklahoma State was less-than-impressive in their win over Texas last weekend. They came away with a win, but that was more about Texas handing them the game than anything else. Mason Rudolph was surprisingly bad in that one, and he faces a high quality Kansas State defense in this contest.
While Kansas State doesn't have the talent they have had in recent years, they still have one of the best coaches in the game in Bill Snyder. Snyder always has a great game plan, and the Wildcats have had a lot of success against the Cowboys in the past. In fact, Kansas State is 4-0 ATS in their last four games against Oklahoma State. Additionally, Kansas State is 37-14-1 ATS in their last 52 conference games.
Oklahoma State will likely win this game, but getting more than a touchdown with the Wildcats here is a solid value. A hard-fought game that is decided in the last few minutes should be expected.
Fade the Top 25 Selections Year to Date: 6 Wins 6 Losses (-$60)
Overall Top 25 ATS Record Last Week: 9 Wins 13 Losses
Overall Top 25 ATS Record This Season: 43 Wins (45.26%) 52 Losses (54.74%)
Read more articles by Aaron Smith
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