NCAA Football Predictions for the Best ATS Teams from Last Season
It would be great if betting on football was as easy as looking at the teams that were good against the spread last year and betting them to be the same this year. For the most part, though, it's not that easy. There are so many factors that go into betting performance - public perception, schedule, roster, coaching, and so on - that teams can go from being a great bet to a lousy one in the blink of an eye. Let's look at the top six betting teams in the NCAA last year and try to determine what their betting future holds this season:
Iowa State (11-1-1 ATS): Last year the Cyclones were sneaky good. They were in the second year under outstanding coach Matt Campbell, and people hadn't caught on to how good he is. And even after winning at Oklahoma - a team that went on to the playoff - they never really got a lot of attention from bettors. They were 7-0-1 ATS after that victory. They always played tough, and the lone game they didn't cover was a 10-point loss to Texas as five-point dogs - hardly damning. This year, though, it feels like Campbell and his squad are getting more attention - and deservedly so. David Montgomery is one of the better backs in football heading into the season, and he leads a team that is talented on both sides of the ball - and still very well coached. I don't think the Cyclones are a threat to win the Big 12, but they are going to be in the fight. And they should get more attention - which will make it harder for them to reward bettors. I still expect them to be a profitable team this year, but just not nearly as profitable as they were last year. It was a perfect storm - a cyclone, even.
Fresno State (11-2-1 ATS): The Bulldogs were absolutely crushed by Alabama and Washington in the second and third weeks of the season, respectively, and it was as if the betting public forgot about them. But even in those predictable massacres they managed to cover both spreads. The only thing that this team wasn't any good at was playing as a double-digit favorite - they were just 1-2-1 ATS in those spots, and they were 10-0 ATS everywhere else. They are a decent team again this year, but Boise State is going to be the class of the conference. The Bulldogs should again be solid for bettors, but to expect things to go their way quite as regularly seems overly optimistic.
Buffalo (9-3 ATS): The Bulls were a perfectly average, forgettable team last year. They didn't stand out in any real way and played a pretty underwhelming schedule. And they covered four spreads by a field goal or less. This year they are going to be more or less just as underwhelming, and you can't count on the close games going their way again. I'm not flat out saying their betting success was a fluke last year, but it probably was.
Georgia (11-4 ATS): Last year it felt like everyone was waiting for the Bulldogs to falter. The talent was there, but the conference was tough and it was a new regime. But they never did falter, covering the spread in both playoff games even as they fell just short of the title. Things are different now, though. Expectations have been amped up. They are the fourth betting choice to win the title, and no one out there can really doubt that they have the potential to make it right back to the playoff again. They don't play Alabama and they get Auburn at home, so the schedule is manageable. The team has a target on their backs now, and teams like that don't often wind up atop the betting success list. Bettors won't enjoy these kinds of profits again this year.
Utah (9-3 ATS): The Utes are a pretty solid team in a pretty wide-open conference, so the potential for success is there. And they aren't going to get a ton of public attention because second-tier Pac-12 teams rarely do - heck, top-tier Pac-12 teams other than USC never really do, for that matter. The ingredients are here for another strong betting year. But, with such a wide-open conference, the possibility for anything from 6-6 to 10-2 exists, so they are a tougher team to trust than would be ideal.
Florida Atlantic (10-4 ATS): This is an interesting one. Lane Kiffin is the ringmaster of one of the stranger shows in the sport, and he gets far more attention than a team in this situation would normally ever get. But because he is Lane Kiffin, that attention isn't always positive. As rocky as his career has been, the guy can coach. And he has some interesting talent on the roster - troubled, but interesting. As bizarre as it sounds, I think the team has a very solid chance of being just as kind to bettors this time around as they were last year.
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