NCAA Football Betting Advice: Fading the Top 25 Weekly Free Picks
It likely all comes down to Georgia, Oklahoma, and Ohio State for the final three spots in the playoff this year. The Buckeyes stunned everyone with a brilliant performance against Michigan last week. Where has that been all year? Oklahoma's offense is well-oiled machine, and their defense is about as bad as you'll ever see for a team in contention for the playoff.
Last year, teams in the Top 25 did better than normal covering the number. The Top 25 teams were 153-149-2 against the spread last season That's a cover rate of 49.0 percent fading teams in the Top 25.
The tables turned in a big way this year. Blindly fading the Top 25 in the regular season went 54.5% against the spread. It makes sense because there are a lot of very mediocre teams in the Top 25 this season.
The Fade the Top 25 Selections finished last year at 23-23 for +$1,040 with the larger plays helping me turn a profit. So far this year, things haven't gone well for the plays. We'll see if things can go better this weekend.
West Virginia vs. Oklahoma was a push on the closing number, but I had West Virginia +2.5 in this article from earlier in the week, so that was a tough loss. Texas A&M led for much of the game against LSU but ended up winning by two in a ridiculous seven-overtime game. Of course, the play here was four units on Texas A&M -3. Two very close big play losers. The final play was on Ole Miss against Mississippi State, and that one might have been the worst pick of the season thus far. It was almost like Ole Miss didn't even care that they were playing their hated rival.
Play #1- Washington -5 (7 units) Washington won at Utah 21-7 during the regular season. It was a night game at Utah, and the line was in the exact same area as it is now for a neutral-site game. The previous game was a night game at Utah, and that's a great home-field advantage. Yes, Utah has played well since then, but they also are without their star quarterback and star running back. This line doesn't make any sense to me.
Washington does have some issues, but the Huskies are excellent on defense. There has been a lot of talk about the Utah defense, but Washington is easily first in Pac-12 action in yards per play allowed at only 4.63. I don't think Utah will have much success on offense in this one. Washington's offense is better than Utah as well with the Utes shorthanded right now. A good value on the line.
Play #2- Memphis +3.5 (6 units) Memphis has fallen just barely short the last two times they have played UCF. The Tigers get another crack at the team they desperately want to topple this weekend. UCF comes into this one without star quarterback McKenzie Milton. Darriel Mack Jr. will be the starter in his place. Mack is a shifty guy, but I don't see the same type of passing ability that Milton displays. I believe this is a clear step down for the Knights offense.
Memphis ranks third in the country averaging 6.3 yards per carry this year. UCF's weakness is their run defense. The Knights rank 71st in the nation, allowing 4.47 yards per carry. I think the Memphis ground game is the key to them finally pulling off the much-awaited victory against UCF.
Play #3- Texas +8 (5 units) There are a couple key reasons for this wager. First, Oklahoma's defense gives up a bunch of yards and points against everyone. There isn't any reason to expect something different this weekend. Oklahoma even allowed 40 points against Kansas a couple weeks ago. Texas is going to score here. Oklahoma will score plenty too, though I do trust Todd Orlando to at least put together a good game plan for the Texas defense.
Tom Herman's record as an underdog is 23-1 ATS if you go back to his years as an assistant coach at Ohio State. The guy has been an underdog machine. In a game against a team with a very weak defense, I have to take the proven great underdog coach with more than a touchdown.
Play #4- Ohio State -14 (-115) (5 units) This one is difficult for me. I like Ohio State to win this big, but I really like Pat Fitzgerald as an underdog. The problem is Urban Meyer is a great big game coach as well, and Meyer has the much better talent here.
In that Michigan vs. Ohio State game last weekend, everyone saw that the biggest difference was the speed of the Buckeyes. Michigan has more speed than Northwestern, and I think this Buckeyes offense can put up a big number here. They are playing with confidence right now, and they know they have to win big here to have any chance of making the playoff.
The Northwestern offense is terrible. The Wildcats are 126th in the nation in yards per play on offense. The Buckeyes defense isn't very good, but they should be able to at least slow down Northwestern enough to get some distance.
Play #5- Pittsburgh +28 (2 units) This one is an ugly bet, but I had to make it at this price level. Clemson's defensive front is tremendous, but they are laying a massive number in a game where all they have to do is win and they are in the playoffs. Pittsburgh has played their best football late in the season as well.
The weather forecast for this game is calling for a lot of rain during this game. That is an equalizer, so it should be helpful to the big underdog.
Clemson has been bet from -24.5 up to -28. Bettors are taking them like it is free money or something. I'll fade the betting public and take the four touchdowns with Pittsburgh here.
Top 25 ATS Record Last Week: 12 Wins 10 Losses 2 Ties
Cumulative Overall Top 25 ATS Record Year to Date: 130 Wins (43.5%) 163 Losses (54.5%) 6 Ties (2.0%)
Fade the Top 25 Selections Last Week: 0 Wins 3 Losses (-$990)
Fade the Top 25 Selections Year to Date: 23 Wins 22 Losses (-$1,740)
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