2019 College Football Predictions: Possible Worst ATS Teams This Season
There are many unique words and phrases in the sports betting industry, but none of them are as prominently used as "good teams win, great teams, cover." Unfortunately for bettors, teams don't care about whether they cover the spread or not. They are focused on one thing and one thing only, and that's winning football games. This is why betting on college football and the NFL is difficult. The point spread adds a degree of difficulty to an already challenging task.
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For example, I'm sure by now we are well aware that Clemson won last year's National Championship. What I'm sure many of you don't know is that if you backed them on a game-to-game basis, you would have had hit only nine winners to go along with six losers. The Tigers went just 9-6 against the spread. And despite them being National Champions, that record has them behind teams such as BYU, Vanderbilt and Miami-Ohio, who combined for a SU record of 19-19.
I understand that when you are one of the best teams in the college football landscape, you will be tagged as the favorite in almost every game, and sometimes the spreads can reach upwards of 30+. But when you are a mediocre or poor team, failing to cover the spread allows only misery to bettors around the world. The worst ATS teams from last year were Louisville 1-11 ATS, New Mexico State 2-9-1, Georgia State 2-9-1, Connecticut 2-9-1, and San Diego State 3-10.
The main point of this article is to help you identify a handful of teams that could be ATS money-burners this year. You can use this list to fade them or avoid them completely. The choice is yours. 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.
Washington State Cougars
Washington State managed to be the top spread-covering team in the country last season with an incredible 11-2 ATS mark - good for a cover clip of 84.6 percent. They come into this season with a few key question marks surrounding the team, and as such, we expect them to take a big dip with their ATS record. Washington State lost one of the best quarterbacks in the country last season, Gardner Minshew, to the NFL, and they are trying to replace him with Gage Gubrud - a former FCS All-American who contributed more than 11,000 yards of offense and 100 total touchdowns at Eastern Washington. He can be good. And with seven receivers returning from last year's team, Washington State won't catch anyone by surprise this year. That means they are likely to be favorites in 90 percent of their games, and we all know how difficult it is when a team that is a perennial underdog becomes a constant favorite.
The Gators are already 0-1 ATS this season, and we should expect them to cover very few spreads throughout the season. Defensively, they are a great team, but offensively they are a mess, and it's going to take an almost perfect performance for them to cover the spreads they get tagged with. As a team, the Gators went 9-4 ATS last season, which was good enough for a 69.2 percent cover clip. As we take a look at their schedule, they have two cupcake games in Tennessee Martin and Towson - so the spread should sit around the -30 mark - which is a lot for a team that is offensively challenged to cover. Other conference games like away to Kentucky, LSU and South Carolina figure to be extremely tough matches for the Gators to win outright, let alone cover a decently-sized spread. The Gators will be a team to fade ATS this season, and their 0-1 start is proof.
Rutgers Scarlett Knights
Rutgers has essentially been the laughingstock of the Big Ten for the last handful of years, and with good reason. Their records over the last four seasons have been 4-8, 2-10, 4-8 and 1-10, respectively. This year, I expect much of the same from them considering they have a terrible quarterback problem and a wide receiving corps that lacks experience. What Rutgers does have going for them is their defense, but I'm not sure how much that matters in a Big Ten conference featuring teams like Michigan, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. Rutgers did give bettors plenty to be happy about at the betting window, going 7-5 ATS last season, but regression in that category is coming. The schedule does not do them any favors, having to play Indiana, Ohio State, Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan, Penn State, and Michigan State. That is a darn near impossible schedule. I am fully aware that Rutgers will be an underdog in each of those games, and a backdoor cover does the trick, but I don't see how this team is going to put up points on good defenses or keep a high-powered offense like Ohio State or Michigan out of the end zone.
It's almost impossible for the Cardinals to be any worse ATS this season than they were last season given the fact that they covered the spread in just one of 12 games. However, Louisville is still a team in disarray as they are bringing in a new coach with Scott Satterfield, who comes over from Appalachian State. Defensively, this Cardinals team is going to be brutal as they return a core group of the unit who gave up at least 52 points in each of their last five games last season. Offensively, the pedigree of Satterfield is to run the ball, so we expect extremely low offensive outputs from the Cardinals, and as such, they should struggle to cover numbers in ball games against teams that are explosive on the offensive side. Given their schedule, the inconsistency of the offense, and the glaring holes on defense, it wouldn't shock me to see Louisville cover one or two games this season.
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