College Football ATS Trends

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South Alabama @
Georgia Southern

This Sun Belt series has been dominated by GSU in recent years, as the Eagles have won six in a row, with the margin in the wins between 2014-18 a whopping 32.4 pg! Though the Jags kept it more competitive a year ago when losing only 20-17 on October 3 and covering the 10-point spread in a double-OT thriller. Note that both teams missed field goal-attempts in the first overtime at Mobile, but GSU’s Ricky Wade, Jr. forced Jag QB Cephous Johnson III to lose a fumble on a sack in USA’s second OT possession. The Eagles then patiently moved within comfy range for PK Tyler Bass, who converted form 37 yards for the game-winner.
East Carolina @

Tulsa has been surging lately vs. the spread and enters this Friday clash having covered 7 of its last 9 on the board. That included a 49-24 romp in last year’s season-ender on Nov. 30 at Greenville, when the Golden Hurricane ran roughshod and came close to 700 total yards (669) in routing host ECU. Tulsa QB Zach Smith had a banner afternoon, tossing 5 TD passes, while RB Shamari Brooks (now injured) posted a career-high 202 rush yards.
Minnesota U @

These modern-day big Ten foes once faced off in a bowl game at the Hall-of-Fame Classic (later changed to All-American Bowl) in 1977. That was the debut game for the new Birmingham Bowl and was won by Jerry Claiborne’s Terps, 17-7. Minnesota had jumped to a 7-0 lead on its first possession on a Marion Barber TD run, but managed only 47 more rush yards on the evening. These teams have exchanged blowout wins the past two seasons, with Minnesota doing the honors by a 52-10 count a year ago at Minneapolis. After last week’s loss at Northwestern, Mike Locksley’s Maryland has now dropped 8 of its last 11 spread decisions.

Not much home edge lately in this Big 12 series that stretches to the days of the old Southwest Conference, as the road team has covered the last four meetings.
Virginia Tech @

After losing last week at double-digit dog Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, VPI continued a hard-to-ignore recent trend, as the home team has now covered in seven straight Hokies regular-season games since late last season (it’s already 5-0 in 2020). VPI is also just 3-11 its last 14 as chalk away from Blacksburg.
Wake Forest @

While the Deacs have covered four of five thus far in 2020 after last week’s upset of Virginia Tech, note that Wake has dropped its last six vs. number away from Winston-Salem. That includes a 39-30 OT loss at the Carrier Dome last November 30, which was secured when Orange DB Trill Williams stole the ball from Wake wideout Kendall Hinton in OT and sped 94 yards for a score to account for the odd beyond-a-TD-in OT margin.
Western Kentucky @

The Cougars are growling in 2020, now 6-0 SU and 5-1 vs. line after last week’s maul of Texas State. Meanwhile, after last week’s life-and-death vs. FCS Chattanooga, the Tops are 0-6 vs. spread in 2020 and now 0-7-1 last seven on board since late 2019.
Michigan State @

After a humbling 38-27 loss to Rutgers (Scarlet Knights’ first Big Ten road win since 2017) as the Mel Tucker era made an inauspicious debut in East Lansing, the Spartans are now just 9-18 vs. line since 2018, also 0-4 in what was a once-solid dog role (during the better years of the Mark Dantonio era). Note that Jim Harbaugh has won and covered last two vs. MSU after dropping first three vs. spread facing the Spartans. The Wolverines are also 9-4 as Ann Arbor chalk past two seasons.
Northwestern @

We’ll see if Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats can continue their recent success as a visiting dog in Big Ten play, a role in which they have covered 12 of their last 14 tries. NU had won and covered the three meetings vs. Iowa previous to last year’s 20-0 loss in Evanston. Included were outright upsets at Iowa City in 2016 & ‘18, winning as a double-digit underdog each time.
Ohio State @
Penn State

Penn State has been able to keep it competitive vs. OSU in recent years, covering four straight against the Buckeyes, though the Nittany Lions haven’t won outright in the series since 2016. Last year, Penn State proved a lively 20-point dog when pushing OSU in Columbus before bowing, 28-17. The Nittany Lions scored 17 quick points in a 3:57 span of the 3rd quarter to cut deeply into a 21-0 deficit, rallying behind frosh backup QB Will Levis, who came in during the 3rd Q following a KO of starting QB Sean Clifford. Note that Penn State is 7-2 its last nine as dog for HC James Franklin.
Purdue @

Note an interesting Big Ten team trend here, as Purdue covered all four as Big Ten road dog in 2019 and now six straight in role. The Boilermakers had won and covered three in a row vs. Illini prior to last year’s 24-6 loss at Ross-Ade Stadium.
San Jose State @
New Mexico

We’ll see if this game gets played after a Covid outbreak in Bernalillo County (Albuquerque) scotched last week’s 2020 opener vs. Colorado State. After their upset win over Air Force last Saturday, the visiting Spartans are 10-4-1 vs. spread since late 2019, and 17-9-1 last 27 on board for HC Brent Brennan. Meanwhile, the Lobos enter 2020 on 4-15 spread run, and lost and failed to cover in a 32-21 setback at SJSU last year. If this one does commence as scheduled, it will mark the debut of first-year New Mexico HC Danny Gonzales.
Nevada @

The Battle for the Fremont Cannon has been a spirited rivalry over the years, including some bench-clearing brawls. Things have become tamer in recent years, and now UNLV is on its first 2-game win streak in the series since 2003-04 after proving too physical for the Wolf Pack for the second straight year in a 33-30 OT upset in Reno last November. That marked the first time the Rebs have won back-to-back Cannon meetings since 2003-04, and sent soon-to-be-dismissed Reb HC Tony Sanchez out on a winning note. The Rebs jumped to an early 17-0 lead ion the 1st Q, fueled by a n 80-yard YTD run by Charles Williams, and Nevada didn’t catch up until Devonte Lee’s 1-yard TD run with 1:32 to play knotted the score and preceded the overtime. After Nevada took its first lead of the game with a 42-yard FG by PK Brandon Talton, UNLV won the game when frosh QB Kenyon Oblad found fellow frosh WR Steve Jenkins for a 19-yard score to end the game.
Boston College @

Even with all of the success Clemson has had lately within the ACC, not losing a league game since 2017 and 22-6-1 vs. the spread since late that season against league foes, stretching the margin on BC hasn’t been as easy. Clemson has only covered 2 of the last 7 vs. the Eagles (Tigers 2-3-2 vs. line) though Dabo Swinney’s boys did roll up a 59-7 romp at Death Valley last October 26. Clemson had the ball six times in the first half and scored on each occasion as RB Travis Etienne was on his way to a 3-TD performance. The Tigers finished with 674 yards while recording a ninth straight series win (though, as noted, it hasn’t been as easy for Clemson to cover vs. this foe in recent years–2019 excepted!).
Iowa State @

Kansas has just one cover in its last nine games (1-7-1 vs. line) dating to late last season, though that W did come at the expense of ISU, which never shook the Jayhawks before settling for a 41-31 win as 25-point chalk. The Cyclones needed QB Brock Purdy’s TD passes as KU was keeping pass en route to nearly 500 yards of offense. The current Jayhawks are having a lot more trouble with their attack, and there are roster deletions that should be noted (check Special Ticker).
Kansas State @
West Virginia

If K-State is a dog here note the Wildcats’ 2-0 mark in role TY, and now 8-2 since HC Chris Klieman arrived in 2019. Back further, KSU is 23-7 as a dog dating to 2016 and the last three seasons of Bill Snyder’s second era there. Though must note that WVU has won the last four meetings in this Big 12 series, covering the last three. The Mounties scored a 24-20 upset at Manhattan as a 14-point dog last November 16, securing the stunner when DB Hakeem Bailey intercepted a Skylar Thompson pass inside the WVU 5-yard line with 43 seconds to play.

Note that the underdog side has covered four straight in this Tiger series, including a narrow miss by Auburn last October 26 in Baton Rouge. LSU’s 23-20 win was its closest call of an eventual national title season. Heisman winner Joe Burrow was “held” to 321 yards passing, his lowest output for the 2019 season.
Memphis @
Cincinnati U

This is a rematch of a pair of games at the end of the 2019 regular season, both at the Liberty Bowl and won by Memphis but covered by Cincy, including the American title game that the Tigers survived by a 29-24 count. The previous week saw Memphis win 34-24, though the Bearcats were inside of the spread on both occasions. Memphis enters this week having covered just 1 of its last 7 games on the board, and 3 of its last 11.
Mississippi St @

Unlike last week’s Bama foe Tennessee, which hasn’t beaten the Tide since Nick Saban took over in Tuscaloosa in 2007, MSU does have a win over Saban as Sly Croom’s Bulldogs scored a 17-12 win at Starkville in that 2007 campaign. But it’s been all-Tide since, and Saban enters this Saturday having covered 4 of the last 5 in this SEC West series.
North Carolina @

In recent times, Virginia HC Bronco Mendenhall has gotten the best of UNC, winning and covering three straight. Including last year’s 38-31 shootout at Chapel Hill when now-graduated Cav QB Bryce Perkins accounted for a whopping 490 yards of offense and accounted for all five Cav TDs which included a pair of scoring runs, one of those from 65 yards. The Cavs are now 10-4 their last 14 as a dog for Mendenhall after last week’s competitive effort and comfy cover vs. Miami.
Notre Dame @
Georgia Tech

Slow going for Jackets HC Geoff Collins, now just 5-12-1 vs. line at GT since last season (2-4 in 2020) after last Saturday’s thumping loss at Boston College. This rivalry recalls a few long-ago games, including one of ABC’s first nighttime national TV telecasts in 1969 when the Irish rolled in Atlanta, 38-20. Things were much closer the next season when a Sun Bowl-bound GT side, coached by Bud Carson, nearly pulled a major upset, losing only 10-7 to a then-undefeated and top-ranked Notre Dame in mid-November at South Bend. The Domers finally claimed the lead for good on a Denny Allan TD run of 2 yards inside of 7 minutes to play, though it was a frustrating day for QB Joe Theismann, who nonetheless set an Irish single-season total offense record during the game. Still, Theismann led the late TD drive after GT’s Eddie McAshan had fired a 66-yard TD strike to flanker Larry Studdard to give the Ramblin’ Wreck a 7-3 lead last in the 3rd Q. That solid effort moved GT back into the rankings (17th the next week) where they would stay the rest of the season, eventually landing at No. 13 following the bowl win over Texas Tech. Meanwhile, the Irish dropped from the top spot in the polls.
Oklahoma @
Texas Tech

Spread-wise, there’s no place like home in this series, with the host team covering the last seven meetings. It was all-Oklahoma in Norman a year ago as the Sooners romped, 55-16, with QB Jalen Hurts passing for 415 yards and 3 TDs in the blowout. That also marked one of two brief appearances as a frosh in 2019 by new OU QB Spencer Rattler, who made a token appearance in relief of Hurts late in the Texas Tech game and completed 2 of 4 passes.
Texas @
Oklahoma State

Some potential clashing tech trends here, as Texas HC Tom Herman is 16-6 as an underdog since 2015 with the horns and previous employer Houston. But Ok State has covered the last two years in this series, and Mike Gundy enters Saturday with a 13-4-1 spread mark in the Cowboys’ last 18 games on the board.
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