Recap Of 2018’s ATS Kings (Wazzu) And Queens (Louisville)

Rainman M.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018 12:45 PM UTC

Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 12:45 PM UTC

With the regular season behind us, let’s reflect on which teams were the best ones for bettors to back and which teams cost their backers the most money.

The top three ATS teams came from the MAC, Conference-USA, and Pac-12. In other words, oddsmakers did not allow Alabama, Clemson, or other prestigious programs to make the top three. Oddsmakers need to expend extra effort to avoid undervaluing higher-profile teams or else they would face too much financial exposure because every bettor knows that teams like Alabama are really good and is already predisposed to bet on them. Instead, bettors should look out for lower-profile teams whom oddsmakers are undervaluing.

Pac-12's Washington State Cougars (10-2 SU, 10-2 ATS)

Luke Falk had played for four years at Wazzu, throwing at least 30 touchdowns in each of his three seasons as starter. His departure may have caused concern and bringing in a quarterback from East Carolina may not have inspired hope. But Gardner MInshew has fit very well in the Cougars’ air-raid scheme and he actually improved upon Falk’s numbers from last season. Wash State finished a game away from playing in the Pac-12 championship and is ranked 13th nationally. In hindsight, some of the spreads look shocking. For example, Wazzu was an underdog at disappointing USC.

C-USA's Florida International Golden Panthers (8-4 SU, 9-3 ATS)

FIU was yearly a losing team until 2017. Butch Davis became head coach and sparked enthusiasm. They achieved six upset wins last year. Still, it was hard to expect them to do as well this season because of all the starting experience that they lost in the offseason. On offense, grad transfer from Bowling Green James Morgan made huge strides. His passer rating improved over 50 points from last season. FIU’s scoring defense actually improved, despite returning only four starters. Davis is getting everything out of his players in his second year there. FIU’s improvement may not have come as a surprise to those who know about Davis’ history of rebuilding programs.

MAC's Buffalo Bulls (10-2 SU, 9-3 ATS)

The Bulls have won one MAC title ever and that was 10 years ago. Last year, they were only 6-6 SU, (but 9-3 ATS) which may not have seemed promising for this season. But, they were 5-3 SU and 6-2 ATS in games that quarterback Tyree Jackson started. Jackson’s ability to stay healthy throughout this season contributed to Buffalo’s success. Another contribution came at running back. Last year, Buffalo’s top backs averaged 4.2 or 4.3 YPC. This year, freshman Jaret Patterson averaged 5.8 YPC. With better health and plenty returning experience, the offensive line improved a lot statistically.

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The bottom three ATS teams were typically hidden gems from smaller conferences, teams that bettors may not normally think about. They lacked talent and/or had internal issues.

Independent New Mexico State Aggies (3-9 SU, 2-9-1 ATS)

It may be hard to believe, but the Aggies went bowling last season and actually beat Utah State as 5.5-point underdogs in its bowl game. When they faced Utah State this year, they lost 60-13 as 23 point underdogs. They would have been 20-point underdogs on a neutral field, meaning that oddsmakers had adjusted the spread from last year’s season finale by 14 points. Oddsmakers could not adjust enough for New Mexico State without departed quarterback Tyler Rogers. Last season, he threw for more than 4000 yards in the Aggies’ pass-happy offense. This season, their leading quarterback mustered 1500 fewer yards.

AAC's Connecticut Huskies (1-11 SU, 2-9-1 ATS)

Last year, UConn had to switch its base defensive scheme because it didn’t have enough defensive linemen — let alone enough well-sized defensive linemen. The offense didn’t do it any favors by becoming more fast-paced. Unsurprisingly, it allowed 39.5 points per game. This year, only two starters returned, meaning that inexperience compounded UConn’s already prevalent defensive problems. This team was a dumpster fire that allowed over 50 points per game.

UConn backers suffered a couple of tough losses on large spreads. Memphis secured a cover by scoring a touchdown with six minutes left in a game already decided. A fumble in its own territory allowed Syracuse to cover with a 4th-quarter field goal. UConn also blew a 17-9 4th quarter lead against UMass and failed to cover as 3.5 point faves. On the flip side, it had a lucky win with a garbage-time touchdown to cover against SMU.

Despite some tough losses, UConn bettors hardly deserve sympathy. It may seem attractive to seem contrarian and bet on bad teams. But bad teams do bad things that even oddsmakers can’t account for and bettors should just stay away from them (or fade them).

ACC's Louisville Cardinals (2-10 SU, 1-11 ATS)

Louisville always had the talent on paper, which is why odds were as optimistic as they were. However, they openly disliked their coaching staff and they quit on the team. Their one cover came against a Florida State team that suffered similar problems with its new coaching staff and with a culture of quitting. Because they never showed up, they were always an easy fade.

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