College Football ATS Award Winners


They've handed out the Heisman Trophy, the Outland Trophy, the Doak Walker award, the Punter of the Year, the Snapper of the Year, the Extra Point Holder of the let's talk about WHAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT!

Let's look at the best and worst POINTSPREAD teams of the year in college football!

Hawaii 11-2

Yes, the trophy for BEST ATS TEAM this year goes to Hawaii, who stayed off the radar most of the season by:

*Losing to USC early in the season, then watching USC have a bad year...

*Winning in non-TV games for several weeks, or late at night after everyone went to bed...

*Getting blown out by Boise State in a rare TV game...

*Going back to covering once nobody was paying attention again.

It's easier to cover spreads if many in the betting market aren't even paying attention to you. Lines adjust slowly. Hawaii was able to exploit that all season long, posting impressive results against an admittedly weak schedule. They weren't taken as seriously as they should have been because of the factors listed above.

Let's look at a list of teams who were 8-4 or better vs. the number this season...reaching or topping a 67% success rate.

Ohio State 9-2-1
Arizona State 8-2-2
Virginia Tech 10-3
Central Florida 10-3
NC State 9-3
Oklahoma State 9-3
Arkansas 9-3
Northern Illinois 9-3-1
Auburn 9-4
Maryland 8-4
Texas A&M 8-4
Connecticut 8-4
Illinois 8-4
Tulsa 8-4
Ohio 8-4
San Diego State 8-4
Boise State 8-4

That's a long list of success stories, so it's impossible to touch on all of them. Ohio State deserves a lot of credit because it seemed like they were on TV every week! Yet, oddsmakers couldn't get the lines to where they needed to be. This was a rare Buckeyes team that built on big leads rather than just sitting on them. Also, Ohio State had to share media credit with Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Iowa in a way that diluted what they were accomplishing. It's rare to see an 'underrated' big money program. Ohio State pulled it off. I can tell you a lot of sharps (professional wagerers) are looking forward to Ohio State's Sugar Bowl meeting with Arkansas, another team you see on the list above.

Let's also give credit to Virginia Tech, who rallied from a poor start to close as the hottest ATS team in the nation over the last 10 weeks of action. You'll often see that early failures trigger a big ATS result. The public gives up ona team when they shouldn't. And the lines just can't ever shake that bad first impression.

Again, I can't comment on every team on the list. There are some nice stories in there. Be sure you give credit where it's due. Ron Zook made money for backers this year!

Buffalo 2-10

Hawaii was off the radar in a good way...and Buffalo was the same story in reverse. These guys were never on TV, so the markets never got a full sense of how bad things had gotten in the absence of Turner Gill. I'm always encouraging you to look for value in low profile leagues. This is a great example. Recognizing the problems Buffalo was likely to have continued to pay off all season long.

Maybe Turner Bill isn't destined for greatness at Kansas. He was a legitimate difference-maker at Buffalo though, as the team's performance before his arrival, and after his departure make very clear.

Rutgers 2-9-1
Texas 3-9
Michigan 3-9
Northwestern 3-9
UCLA 3-9
Vanderbilt 3-9
Florida Atlantic 3-9
Wake Forest 4-8
Cincinnati 4-8
Houston 4-8
Tulsa 4-8
Ball State 4-8
Air Force 4-8
New Mexico 4-8
Mississippi 4-8
Troy 4-8
Middle Tennessee 4-8
New Mexico State 4-8

Rutgers just missed winning the let's mention them. ESPN made the mistake of overrating these guys for a few years, putting them in early season TV matchups just to watch them get obliterated. This year, the markets never adjusted to a new low for the program.

Texas is often linked with Ohio State because both are state schools who have storied histories and carry a lot of weight as TV power brokers. This year, they're both in honorable mention positions in ATS marks. Ohio State kept covering spread because people couldn't believe they'd keep winning blowouts. Texas kept failing to cover because people couldn't believe they'd keep losing!

In reality, any 'Disappointment of the Year' award should go to Texas. They were top five in the preseason polls yet couldn't reach a bowl. Buffalo had a bad year...but they're supposed to be bad. Texas had an EMBARRASSING year that stunned the nation.

One common theme with this group is that they were overrated this year because of what they had done in prior seasons. That's not a 100% rule...but it hits most of the dis-honorable mentions. A few teams like Vandy or New Mexico were just plain bad. Many others are bowl regulars from recent seasons, or teams who received too much hype in preseason annuals.

by Las Vegas linesmaker Nick Bogdanovich


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