College Football Betting Predictions: Teams That Could Improve ATS
Our job here with this article is simple. We want to look at college football teams that were just plain awful to bettors last year, and we want to identify ones that are likely to be a whole lot less awful last year. It could be that you made good money fading these teams last year, and now you have to stop that, or it could be that there will be value in betting on these teams consistently this year. How you deal with them is up to you, but the shared similarity is that all of these squads are very likely not to be nearly as awful against the spread as they were last year:
USC (3-10-1 ATS): The Trojans came into last year with a stud quarterback and the kind of impossible expectations that only a team like USC can face. They had struggled for a while and hadn't had coaching stability over that time, but people saw a strong bowl game and expected them to be national contenders. And from the outset it was clear they weren't at that level. But the bettors never deserted them, and things went badly. This year the stud QB is gone, but another who could be even better has taken his place. The talent is deeper and more experienced, and the conference is more manageable even than last year. If the Trojans aren't dramatically better ATS this year then they should just pack it in.
Florida (3-8 ATS): Last year they faced the distraction of living through a hurricane and the ongoing saga of a lame duck coach who didn't make it through the season. This was not a team that played like they cared a whole lot. They got manhandled by Michigan in their opener and never recaptured their mojo. Now, I'm not the biggest Dan Mullen supporter out there, but unquestionably he is an upgrade on what they had last year - if only because he brings stability. The Gators are still a year or three away from true SEC relevance in my eyes, but they should be solidly better than they were last year - for bettors and on the field.
Indiana (3-8-1 ATS): Obviously this is not a high-profile team like the first two - at least not on the football field. But this is a team to watch this year. They are well-coached, were feisty last year, have strong talent and a good QB, and are going to be less than fun to play against. Now, the record won't be great still because that conference is a disaster for them, but they are going to be a significantly better team than last year, and that is going to be reflected strongly at the betting windows.
Nebraska (4-8 ATS): Like Florida, this team fits into the category of proud program that has struggled to find their coaching identity. Well, in Scott Frost they have certainly found it - or if he can't fix this team then no one can. There have real talent issues, and the conference is very tough, but Frost will have this team believing they can run through walls, and his coaching staff has the proven ability to get the maximum out of the talent they have. I will be shocked if this isn't a significantly stronger betting team than last year.
Minnesota (4-7-1 ATS): I remain a big believer in P.J. Fleck. I wish he had held out for a better spot than Minnesota because he has a huge talent deficit and a whole lot working against him. But he is making progress, and he is going to continue doing so in the years to come. He can flat out coach, and that is going to be more evident on the ATS charts this year than in the standings.
Mississippi (4-7-1 ATS): Last year was a total and utter disaster as the cloud of scandal hung heavy over the team, and the coaching staff was in shambles. Now they come into this season with a clear vision of where they are at and who is going to lead them forward. Most of their best players skipped town, and talent is going to be a major issue, but the spreads will also regularly be large. If the team can play like they have been given a new lease on life then they could be a betting positive. I feel less confident about this team than any other on this list, but the upside is still there in a significant way.
Florida State (4-7-2): Jimbo Fisher should be disgusted with the pathetic, pouting performance he put forward last year on his way out of town. My son is eight, and I wouldn't have expected such petty childishness from him five years ago. Fisher got what he wanted in the end, and all he had to do was drive his team into the ground to get it. That sorry era is behind us now, and the team can move forward under the enthusiastic leadership of Willie Taggart. I haven't yet decided if the Taggart era will look more like Urban Meyer at Florida or Charlie Strong at Texas, but the talent is strong now and the environment will be dramatically less toxic, so in the short term at least I am expecting a significant improvement. Heck, if the team looks like they care even a little bit about the outcome of their games then they will be dramatically ahead of where they were from the second half of their season opener on last year.
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