2018 College Football Betting Tips: Predictions for Best ATS Teams This Year
With all due respect to the Major League Baseball season, thank god August is here and thank god football season is right around the corner. In just a few short weeks college football teams across the country will take to the field for Week 1 of the NCAA football season. Some teams have legitimate National Championship aspirations, while some teams will be hoping to make the most of their season and perhaps pull off a few memorable upsets along the way.
In football, nothing is guaranteed except for the unexpected. Teams will win games they have no business winning. There will be injuries to key players, suspensions, poor officiating, bonehead coaching decisions, and if not most importantly, bad betting beats.
College football is among the most popular sports to wager upon, and in 2018 that will be no different. Powerhouse teams from the main conferences have reloaded their weapons on both sides of the ball and figure to battle it out until one team reigns supreme. However, the betting season will be handled in an entirely different fashion.
We all know that Alabama won the National Championship last year. Any futures bet placed on them was cashed out at a good price. However, those who backed Alabama on a game-to-game basis likely suffered a terrible season. The Crimson Tide went just 6-8 ATS last season, which puts them below teams like Massachusetts, Charlotte and even Rutgers. Some of the best ATS teams were teams that weren't ever in consideration for a national title. Iowa State went 11-2 ATS, while Fresno State went 11-2-1. Buffalo 9-3 ATS, Utah 9-3-1 ATS and Georgia at 11-4 ATS rounded out the Top 5.
The main point of this article is to help you identify a handful of teams that could be ATS darlings this year and make you some serious money. These may just be predictions, but they are intended to be as accurate as possible given a team's strength of schedule, expectations and personnel.
I completely understand how dumb it is to put the Bulls into this category considering they finished 9-3 ATS last season, but hear me out. The Bulls are one healthy season away from being legitimate contenders in the MAC conference. After posting a 2-10 record SU in 2016, the Bulls finished at 6-6 and 4-4 in the MAC last season. The biggest reason for their improvement was the offense. They were able to raise their points per game from 16.5 to 28.5 last season despite getting only nine games out of quarterback Tyree Jackson. If Jackson can stay healthy for the entire season then there is no reason to believe he can't improve on his stats of 2,096 passing yards, 12 TDs and 197 yards rushing with four rushing scores. If the Buffalo defense can improve next year - which I believe is very likely -- then the Bulls will be a force on both sides of the football. With nonconference games against the likes of Delaware State, Rutgers, Temple and Army, the Bulls could be looking at nine- or 10-win season, possibly even 10 ATS victories. Don't sleep on the Bulls.
The UAB Blazers went 8-4-1 ATS last season, and much like the Bulls they are primed for an even better season this year. For starters, the Blazers have a favorable schedule to contend with. They get Southern Miss, UTSA, North Texas, and a nonconference game against Tulane at home. The Blazers are currently 10-1 to win Conference USA and with a lineup that returns running back Spencer Brown, quarterback A.J. Erdely, the top four receivers from last season, and four of five offensive linemen. That is tremendous value in such a weak conference. Sure, they will have to beat FAU to win the title, but in an all-or-nothing game the Blazers have what it takes to beat them.
Louisiana-Monroe won only four games last season. However, with how competitive they were in every game, they could have won six or seven. The Warhawks lost four games by 10 points or less, which contributed to their 6-6 ATS mark. If all goes according to plan during camp and the team takes the appropriate steps forward, the Warhawks could be money at the betting window this season. The Warhawks return their starting quarterback, Caleb Evans, and four of their top receivers from last year. They will also deploy Alabama transfer Derrick Gore out of the backfield this season, and he should be able to produce running behind a line that returns four of five starters. Defensively is where the Warhawks need to make the biggest jump, and in a potential down year for the Sun Belt conference I expect that to happen.
Tulane Green Wave
As the Green Wave embark on their 2018 season, they have very strong motivation to snap a four-year Bowl drought. Last season they finished with a record of 5-7, leaving them one win shy of a bowl game. They are set to return four of five starters on the offensive line from last season, three of their top receivers, and, most importantly, their quarterback, Jonathan Banks. Banks finished last season with an impressive 592 yards rushing and 5 TDs to go along with 1,797 yards through the air and 12 more scores. Despite having a tricky first-half schedule against some big-name teams like Ohio State, Memphis and Wake Forest to some degree, the rest of the schedule looks like the Green Wave will be able to do enough to secure a bowl spot. At first glance, the Green Wave might not be favorite in many games. However, with an offense that can put points on the board in a hurry, they will be in any game and should be able reward bettors at the betting window who took them ATS.
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