Trusty Iowa State finishes the college football season as our Top Cat, while Hawaii is alone on an island as King Rat.
By holding off Memphis 21-20 in the Liberty Bowl and covering ATS as 2½-point underdogs, Iowa State (9-5 SU, 11-1-1 ATS) justifiably finishes with the Top Cat ATS crown this season and the best NCAAF team on which to bet at +9 games. Iowa State started the 2017 season with three covers, had two four-game ATS win streaks and didn't lose ATS since Sept. 28.
The Cyclones were 5-0-1 ATS on the road and 5-1 ATS at home. They played +9.9 ppg compared to the point spread, and, since 2015, no FBS team has performed better at the betting windows than Iowa State (24-11-2 ATS, 68.6 percent), with Temple (27-13-0 ATS, 68.3 percent) a close second. Iowa State also finished 16th in the nation in turnover margin (+0.77).
The Cyclones open the 2018 season on Sept. 1 at home against FCS upstart South Dakota State before facing Big Ten rival Iowa on Sept. 8.2. Fresno State 11-2-1 ATS (Previous ranking: No. 2)
Fresno State (10-4 SU, 10-3-1 ATS) won outright as underdogs (+3) in its bowl game, beating Houston 33-27 in the Hawaii Bowl. Except for unbeaten Central Florida, no team improved as much so quickly as the Bulldogs, who were 1-11 SU in 2016 and 3-9 SU in 2015. Fresno State (+9.4 ppg vs. ATS) went its first seven games without an ATS loss (6-0-1), then lost two ATS, before reeling off five straight ATS wins.
Fresno State (+0.57 turnover margin, tied for 25th) played nine consecutive unders and finished 4-10 in the totals market (2-6 under on road). The Mountain West Conference members are 18-6-1 ATS in their last 25 games, matched only by Top Cat Iowa State over that span.
Next season's opener is Sept. 1 against Idaho, followed by games against Minnesota of the Big Ten and UCLA of the Pac-12.3. Utah 9-3-1 ATS (Previous ranking: No. 5)
Seemingly always reliable Pac-12 member Utah (7-6 SU, 9-3-1 ATS) started the season a sparkly 5-0-1 ATS and, despite losing three of its last four ATS and finishing with a 7-6 SU record, the Utes managed to finish 9-3-1 ATS. Utah (+1.7 ppg vs. ATS) beat West Virginia 30-14 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, covering ATS as 7-point favorites.
As we touched upon in a recent article, Utah has gone a profitable 10-3 ATS in its last 13 bowl games and an impressive 17-4 SU in its past 21 bowls.
Utah (16-9-1 ATS since 2016, 64 percent) will open in 2018 season at home against FCS side Weber State. The Utes' biggest test next season might be a Week 3 matchup with Pac-12 heavyweight Washington that could launch Utah into playoff talk if it gets the upset.4. Georgia 11-4-0 ATS (Previous ranking: not ranked)
Southeastern Conference stud Georgia (+12.4 ppg vs. ATS) makes its first appearance on our list by virtue of an overtime extra point that didn’t needed to be kicked, but which would have resulted in a push with the Bulldogs as 4-point underdogs to Alabama in the national championship game. Georgia (13-2 SU, 11-4 ATS) was +7 ATS (7-1 ATS on road) after all the dust and little rubber pellets cleared. The Bulldogs closed on a five-game ATS winning streak after sitting at 6-4 ATS after losing at Auburn and losing their third game in four against the betting number.
Although the offense was great, Georgia backers can thank the defense (16.4 ppg, No. 4 scoring defense) for so many covers and a near-miss at a national title.
The Bulldogs open the 2018 season Sept. 1 at home against FCS side Austin Peay. Their regular-season schedule ends with their annual showdown Nov. 24 against Georgia Tech, a game to mark on your trend-betting calendars and a great spot to back the Bulldogs the minute the line comes out. The biggest date on Georgia's schedule is Nov. 10 at home against Auburn in a perfect revenge spot for the hosts, who could head into that game 9-0 SU.5. Florida Atlantic 10-4-0 ATS (Previous ranking: not ranked)
Florida Atlantic (11-3 SU, 10-4-0 ATS) edges out Buffalo (9-3-0 ATS, +3.9 ppg vs. ATS) for the last Cats spot by virtue of its home-field 50-3 Boca Raton Bowl thrashing of Akron. FAU closed as 23-point favorites, the highest point spread of the bowl season. The Owls went 7-1 ATS at home, were No. 9 in turnover margin (+0.93), and were tied for the 34th-best scoring defense in FBS (22.7 ppg). Not too bad for another Little Engine That Could team.
FAU will face a tough road test in its 2018 opener, at Big 12 powerhouse Oklahoma on Sept. 1 (OK -20½ -120, 5Dimes).
Our final Top 5 ATS Cats went 52-14-3 ATS in the 2017 regular season and bowls (78.8 percent). All are must-watch teams heading into 2018.
College Football: Final 2017-18 Top 5 ATS Rats Rankings1. Hawaii 2-9-1 ATS (Previous ranking: No. 1)
Some have Hawaii graded at 1-10-1 ATS, but we have the Rainbow Warriors winning their first two games of the 2017 regular season ATS -- winning outright 38-35 as 3-point underdogs at Massachusetts in Week ,1 then beating Western Carolina 41-18 and covering ATS as big 19½ home favorites.
The Rainbow Warriors fell to 4-15-1 ATS in their last 20 games after losing to BYU in the regular-season finale as small 3-point home underdogs. Hawaii was a fade-worthy 0-9-1 ATS since its 2-0 ATS start. Hawaii (-8.4 ppg vs. ATS) was outscored 99-41 in its last three games and has been the worst FBS team ATS the past three seasons at 10-27-1 ATS (27.0 percent, -6.2 ppg vs. ATS), making them truly worthy of King Rat status.
Hawaii opens the 2018 season Sept. 1 at home against Navy (7-6 SU/ATS) in a grrrrreat spot to back the Midshipmen (Navy -12 -120, 5Dimes).2. UTEP 2-9-1 ATS (Previous ranking: No. 2)
Conference USA member UTEP (0-12 SU, 2-9-1 ATS) was the only FBS team without a SU win after the Miners lost 28-7 at UAB, covering ATS as big 21½- and 22- point road underdogs in most sportsbooks, but garnering a push at +21 at offshores such as BetOnline, Sportsbetting.ag and Intertops. UTEP ended a five-game ATS losing skid and is now 14-21-1 ATS since 2015. UTEP finished the season with the 117th-ranked scoring defense (36.8 ppg) in FBS, and no team in college football scored fewer points than the Miners (141).
Their 2018 season begins Sept. 1 against Northern Arizona in a game UTEP might be able to win SU. The following week UTEP plays UNLV in what seems like will be a good spot to fade the Miners and back the Rebels, line depending.3. Western Kentucky 3-10-0 ATS (Previous ranking: not ranked)
Western Kentucky (6-7 SU, 3-10-0 ATS) opened the season on a five-game ATS losing streak, finally covering ATS as 14-point home favorites against Charlotte in C-USA play, before three more ATS defeats. WKU (-7.4 ppg vs. ATS) begins next season Sept. 1 at Wisconsin before hosting Maine.4. USC 3-10-1 ATS (Previous ranking: not ranked)
Southern Cal (11-3 SU, 3-10-1 ATS) has been awfulof late ATS, going 2-10-1 ATS after covering in their season opener with a 42-24 win over Pac-12 rival Stanford as 3½-point home favorites. In the Cotton Bowl, USC was throttled by Ohio State 24-7 and failed to cover as 10-point underdogs). The Trojans (8-0 SU at home) will open 2018 against UNLV on Sept. 1 at home.5. Oregon State 3-9-0 ATS (Previous ranking: No. 5)
Oregon State stays at No. 5 by virtue of a poor defense (43.0 ppg scoring defense, No. 127 of 129). In Oregon State’s Week 12 Civil War rivalry game at Oregon, the Beavers allowed 52 points in the first half en route to a 69-10 pasting as 25- to 26-point road underdogs. After losing the first five games ATS this season, the ratty Beavers -- who struggled with QB injury issues -- reeled off three straight ATS wins before ending on a four-game ATS skid. Oregon State will definitely be giving up 50 points or so in its 2018 opener at Ohio State. Offshore sportsbook 5Dimes already has the Buckeyes lined as 30½-point home favorites (-120).
The five ATS Rats in our final rankings went a combined 13-47-3 ATS -- a paltry 21.7 win percentage against the betting number when they played.
2018 NCAAF Future Fade The Rats Pick: Navy -12 -120 over Hawaii, Sept. 1 (5Dimes)