The Week 9 edition of the Fading the Top 25 Weekly Free Picks article is ready to go. Last week's slate of games wasn't terribly exciting, and there weren't many changes in the Top 25. The biggest change was Utah dropping a game at USC. That was a game where sharp money came in on the Trojans as favorites, and USC won and covered easily.
For the second straight week, it was a bad week for bettors who look to fade the Top 25. Overall, Top 25 teams went a stunning 13-7 against the spread. That follows up an impressive 14-8 ATS record for Top 25 teams last year. After having a cover rate of less than 45 percent just a couple weeks ago, Top 25 teams have turned into covering machines the last two weeks. What does this mean? It should mean there will be value in fading these teams soon. The oddsmakers know public bettors are going to want to take Top 25 teams, so they have to start inflating lines soon.
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Last week's selections went 1-1. The Tennessee pick was a good one. The Volunteers played Alabama well all game, and the Crimson Tide barely walked away with the win while Tennessee comfortably covered the number. Virginia Tech lost in four overtimes at home against Duke. The Hokies made a late comeback to draw even, but they really didn't deserve to win that game.
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.
Like last week, there are quite a few Top 25 teams with the week off this weekend. Only two picks this week once again. There should be more action to choose from again next week.
Play #1- North Carolina State +10.5 (#136) vs. Clemson- The Clemson Tigers are in about as bad of a look-ahead spot as you will find. Clemson hosts Florida State next weekend, and that is the game they've had circled since their really rough loss to the Seminoles last year. You could also call it a bit of a letdown spot for the Tigers after they blasted Miami 58-0 last weekend. Clemson beat up on Miami so badly they decided to get rid of Coach Al Golden in the middle of the season.
NC State has always been a tricky place to play. Dave Doeren's team looked sharp last week at Wake Forest. The Wolfpack have a playmaker at quarterback in Jacoby Brissett. Brissett makes good decisions with the football, and he is a dual-threat guy. NC State's defense is much improved this year also. They rank third in the nation in passing defense. The Wolfpack rank 11th in the nation in points allowed per game at 16.1 per contest.
Clemson is a really good team, and I think there's a real chance they get to the College Football Playoff. Still, it's hard to bring your best effort every single week. In this spot, Clemson is more likely to win a close game than blow away a pretty good NC State team. Grab the points here.
Play #2- Minnesota +14 (#200) vs. Michigan- Everyone knows how Michigan lost their last game. I don't know if I've seen a more heartbreaking way to lose a college football game. Jim Harbaugh didn't do anything wrong by punting in that situation. The team just didn't execute. Can the Wolverines bounce back? I think they'll be fine, but I do think this Minnesota team presents a difficult change for Michigan.
Jerry Kill's team gives almost everyone a tough game at home. They made Ohio State work very hard for a win last year. They made TCU work hard for a win in the season-opener this year. The Golden Gophers were thumped at home in their last game by Nebraska. That actually makes me more confident about backing them here. Coach Kill's team is a resilient bunch, and I think they'll be hungry to get that bad taste out of their mouth.
Clearly, Michigan wants to get rid of the image of losing last game to Michigan State, and I do think they'll win this game. However, laying 14 points in a game with a posted total of 39 is not something I want to do. I think this game likely goes 'under' the posted total, and in that kind of low-scoring game I'll take the two-touchdown underdog who is 4-0 ATS in their last four games following a bye week.
Fade the Top 25 Selections Year to Date: 12 Wins 12 Losses (-$120)
Overall Top 25 ATS Record Last Week: 13 Wins 7 Losses
Overall Top 25 ATS Record This Season: 91 Wins (50%) 91 Losses (50%)
Read more articles by Aaron Smith
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