Forget about extensive research and number-crunching and gut instinct. If you want to become a successful handicapper, you first need to figure out how to contract amnesia—it’s essential not to dwell on what could’ve been but rather focus on what can be.
Of course, as you can tell by the big number in the box below, I don’t exactly qualify as a “successful” handicapper. Which is precisely why I’m going to take a moment to dwell on what could’ve been (hey, looks like Nick Saban and I have something in common this week!). Do you realize that Utah State, that little agricultural school up in Logan, is a perfect 10-0 against the spread, according to VegasInsider.com? That’s right: If you had bet $10 on Utah State in its season opener and rolled over the winnings in each subsequent game, you’d have … let’s see, multiply these numbers, carry the four … um, let’s just say you’d be hitting up Steve Wynn for his accountant’s contact information.
While the Aggies stand alone atop college football’s point-spread standings, they’re hardly the only team making bettors rich. Get this: The 10 teams with the best point-spread records—Utah State, Fresno State (10-1 ATS), Northwestern (9-1), Kansas State (8-1-1) and Northern Illinois, Clemson, Kent State, San Jose State, Ball State and Florida Atlantic (all 8-2)—are a combined 85-15-1 ATS, a stunning 84 percent winning percentage. Even more stunning: Those 10 squads are 52-6-1 ATS (88 percent) when playing on the road!
To underscore how undervalued these teams have been, note that all but one have straight-up records of 7-3 or better (Florida Atlantic is 3-7).
Now, excuse me while I attempt to pull off the cliché equivalent of the Triple Lindy, but the law of averages suggest that nothing lasts forever and all good things must come to an end. Well, we’re about to find out, as this week I’m putting my hot streak (9-2 the last two weeks) in the hands of several of these spread-covering machines—in other words, you’re about to see a real-life cooler in action! (Note: All point spreads are as of Nov. 13.)
$110 on Kansas State (-11½) at Baylor: I should be worried that Kansas State is playing on the road for the second straight week … except the last time this happened, the Wildcats throttled West Virginia 55-14 as a 3-point underdog. I should be worried about laying double digits on the road with Kansas State … except that eight of the Wildcats’ 10 victories this year have been by 13 points or more. I should be worried that K-State is facing an opponent that averages 42.7 points per game … except that the Wildcats allow just 17.7 ppg, giving up more than 21 points just twice all year. By comparison, Baylor has held just one opponent under 23 points, yielding an average of 39.4 ppg.
Finally, not only are the Wildcats 8-1-1 ATS, but they are also on point-spread tears of 23-6-1 in Big 12 games and 6-2 against Baylor.
$110 on Utah State -3 at Louisiana Tech: How close are the Aggies to matching their perfect ATS record with a perfect overall record? Their two losses were by a combined five points (16-14 at Wisconsin, 6-3 at BYU). Since the BYU defeat Oct. 5, Utah State has ripped off four straight wins by margins of 22, 34, 31 and 31 points, and all but one of its eight victories were by double digits. Yes, Louisiana Tech is 9-1 and ranked 19th in both polls (while the Aggies are barely getting votes). And, yes, the Bulldogs are averaging a whopping 53.4 ppg. But that’s because they haven’t faced Utah State’s defense, which allows just 13.5 ppg.
$110 on San Jose State +3½ vs. BYU: Last four games: San Jose State 172, opponents 64. The Spartans’ two losses this season: 20-17 at Stanford (as a 25½-point underdog!) and 49-27 vs. the aforementioned Utah State. The Spartans’ ATS record since November 2010: 18-6, including 12-2 as an underdog. BYU’s road record this season: 1-3.
Best of the Rest: Northwestern +6½ at Michigan State ($55); Stanford +20½ at Oregon ($44); Rams -3 vs. Jets ($77); Broncos -7½ vs. Chargers ($55).