Sharps Look to Road Dogs for this Week's College Football Picks

Kevin Stott

Friday, November 21, 2014 1:56 PM GMT

Friday, Nov. 21, 2014 1:56 PM GMT

Heading into week 12 of the 2015 College Football season, there were 24 teams who hadn’t cost their betting backers a penny in losses in the role as an Away Underdog. Let’s separate the wheat from the chaff and find a bet.

Road Underdogs With 4+ ATS Wins in the Role in a Season Fairly Rare
With the 2015 College Football regular season starting to wind down, there are still 24 teams that haven’t let bettors down when they decided to back them with their money on the Road in the role as Underdogs this season. Although this is only a small, unique and complicated slice of a much bigger betting pie, noticing who does well year-in and year-out when put in these various basic roles like Home Favorite, Away Favorite, Road Underdog and Road Favorites, one can see which teams more often than not seem to be just a little bit better than the odds makers’ posted numbers, although they—by nature of the number of games in their sport in a season—are always of very small statistical sample sizes.

As far as using some of the accompanying data with these teams, the MOV reflects that team’s average Margin of Victory overall (reflected as a negative in losses) while the ATS +/- shows the average amount of points each team covers the spread by. And as you will see, teams that are undefeated in that sometimes rare role as Road Underdogs do pretty overall ATS in terms of their individual +/-’s and many are in the Associated Press Top 25 rankings.

Finding value in college football's biggest underdogs.

The 24 Teams With Undefeated ATS Record Right Now
There is only one team in college football picks heading into Week 13 play with a perfect 5-0 ATS record as Road Underdogs and it’s California (+2.0 ppg MOV, +9.4 ATS +/-), which has covered the number away against Northwestern, Arizona, Washington State, Oregon State and USC. And with only Home games left against rival Stanford this Saturday (FS1, 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT) and BYU in the regular season finale (Nov. 29), the Golden Bears will finish at 5-0 ATS as Road Underdogs. Something to remember for next season though.

There are four schools with 4-0 ATS records as Road Underdogs with one Usual Suspect and three surprises. #20 Utah (+4.5 MOV, +12.6 ATS +/-) is an impressive 8-2 ATS overall and makes its betting backers money all kinds of ways and is at Colorado in its regular season finale—but the bowl-bound Utes will be favored in that spot. Louisiana Tech (-2.8 MOV, +18.6 ATS +/-), Texas State (-1.0 MOV, +4.6 ATS +/-) and New Mexico (1.0 MOV, +12.1 ATS +/-) are all also 4-0 getting points away from home, but only one fits that role in Week 13 as the Lobos are catching 21½ points in Fort Collins against upstart #22 Colorado State; so remember to check our college football odds before you make your pick.

Three teams are 3-0 ATS as Road Underdogs, and three (games) is probably a fair number to try to pass any handicapping judgement on a team in any given statistical category in a given season with so few games being played in a season. In other words, those teams (below) that are 2-0, 2-0-1 and 1-0 ATS in this role are mere statistical blips and probably not worth remembering in terms of a team that may be forming a distinct pattern.

Florida International (2.7 MOV, +11.9 ATS +/1) is one of those three in this grouping and the Panthers are a 2½-point Road Underdog this Saturday (Nov. 22) at North Texas in a Conference USA tilt. Vanderbilt (-15.7 MOV, +8.5 ATS +/-) is the team with the worst average of Margin of Victory—in the Commodores case, Margin of Loss—and Vandy will really be up against it Saturday night when they travel to Starkville to play Mississippi State in a game in which they are now (Thursday) priced as massive -30½ Underdogs. #19 Missouri (+2.3 MOV, +17.8 ATS +/-) is also 3-0 as Road Underdogs and is worth a look Saturday night in Knoxville against Tennessee as 3½-point Underdogs in an SEC showdown.

Teams currently sitting with 2-0 ATS as Road Underdogs include aforementioned and 4th-ranked Mississippi State (+8.5 ATS +/-), Virginia Tech (7.7 MOV, +14.2 ATS +/-), Houston (-2.0 MOV, +10.2 ATS +/-), South Carolina (-2.0 MOV, +10.5 ATS +/-), Boston College (9.0 MOV, +11.5 ATS +/-) and East Carolina (-1.5 MOV, +10.2 ATS +/-), while Purdue (-3.7 MOV, +10.8 ATS +/-) and Memphis (-0.3 MOV, +15.0 ATS +/-) are both 2-0-1 in this specific role.

There are eight teams with just one ATS win as Road Underdogs heading into Week 13: #5 TCU (+4.0 ATS +/-), #6 Baylor (+39.5 ATS +/-), #7 Ohio State (+17.5 ATS +/-), #8 Mississippi (+17.5 ATS +/-), #13 Arizona State (+15.5 ATS +/-), Syracuse (+6.5 ATS +/-), Louisville (+2.5 ATS +/-) and West Virginia (+2.5 ATS +/-).

Maybe the most impressive team that emerges from this list is Louisiana Tech (4-0 ATS as Road Underdog) and its massive +18.6 ATS +/- per game average, which earned its 4 ATS wins in the first five weeks of the season as an Underdog at #23 Oklahoma in the season opener (+34); at Louisiana-Lafayette (+16) in Week 2; at North Texas in Week 3 (+3); and in Week 5 at #16 Auburn (+32½). And like many on this list, the Bulldogs will not be in that role anymore this season as they are on the Road this Saturday at Old Dominion in Conference USA action but are 11½-point Favorites, as they have been every week since facing Auburn.


Free College Football PickMissouri +3½ (5Dimes)

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