In the second installment of the Degenerates Guide to the 2014 Season, I will continue to help you look for ways to gain a slight edge on the point spread for the coming season. In this post we’ll take a look at how teams that are extremely successful or extremely ineffective Against the Spread (ATS) perform ATS the following year. How do we define extremely successful or extremely ineffective? It’s a little arbitrary, but for the purposes of this piece, an extremely successful ATS team will be one with two or fewer regular season ATS defeats. Similarly, an extremely ineffective ATS team will be one with two or fewer regular season ATS wins. Only games against other IA opponents were included. Games against IAA schools were not considered, even if there was a betting line at the time of the game. I examined every IA college football team since 2005 to determine which ones met these criteria.
So which teams were among the most successful ATS? 30 teams finished with two or fewer ATS defeats since 2005. These include a few national champions (2005 Texas and 2008 Florida), but also a diverse group of mid-majors (2006 Central Michigan, 2010 Hawaii, and 2011 Louisiana Tech to name a few). How did these teams perform the following season ATS? Overall, the 30 teams posted a losing ATS mark the following season, covering just over 48% of the time. This is not surprising, since teams tend to regress to the mean, and extreme performances are unlikely to be repeated. However, this does not mean betting against these teams with reckless abandon is a prudent decision. Remember, if you want to turn a profit, you need to win more than 52.4% of your wagers and the win percentage going against these teams is only 51.8%. So these teams don’t post amazing ATS results the following year, but there is not enough of an advantage to make them worth playing. What if we dig a little deeper? If we examine how these teams perform in different roles, can we isolate a potential advantage? Yes we can. When these successful ATS performers come into a game as a favorite the next year, they cover only about 46% of the time (46.3%). In addition, when they enter a game as a double-digit favorite, they cover just 44% of the time. Going against these teams when they are favored or heavily favored can provide some small advantages.
So which teams from 2013 were extremely successful ATS and could provide some advantages when wagering against this year? Three teams from 2013 fit the criteria, and two of them played in the BCS National Championship Game. Florida State went 10-1-1 ATS in the regular season and Auburn went 10-2, making a mint for their backers last season. Houston also performed quite well in 2013, going 9-2 ATS. Scanning the opening week lines for 2014, all three are favored by double-digits meaning Arkansas, Oklahoma State, and Texas-San Antonio look to be solid plays over Labor Day Weekend.
What about the ineffective teams? 27 teams finished with two or fewer ATS victories since 2005. No great teams appear on this list, but a few mediocre squads (2006 Iowa, 2007 Alabama, and 2008 Fresno State) can be found among the dregs (2008 Washington and 2012 New Mexico State to name a few). How did these teams perform the following season ATS? Overall, the 27 teams improved, but still posted a losing ATS mark, covering just 49.5% of the time. Like their successful brethren, this winning percentage provides no value either on either side. Again, we need to dig a little deeper to find some advantageous scenarios. When these ineffective ATS teams were favored, they covered 53.2% of the time and when they were double-digit favorites, they covered 55% of the time. Those were the only instances when these teams provided marginal value either betting for or against them.
So which teams from 2013 were extremely ineffective ATS and could provide some advantages when wagering on this year? Four teams from 2013 fit the criteria, and all ranged from bad to horrendous. Colorado was the only team from a BCS conference that was extremely ineffective, posting a 2-9 ATS record. A pair of MAC teams, Eastern Michigan, and Miami of Ohio went 2-9 and 2-9-1 ATS respectively while UTEP managed just a 2-10 ATS mark. Perusing the opening lines for 2014, the only team from the quartet that is favored is Colorado. The Buffaloes are a small favorite against their in-state rivals Colorado State. The Buffs don’t inspire a great deal of confidence, but they are probably worth a small play here.
Based on recent history, it appears Auburn, Florida State, and Houston are solid plays against when they
are favored, and particularly when they are large favorites in 2014. Similarly, Colorado, Eastern Michigan, Miami of Ohio, and UTEP appear to be solid plays for in the rare instances when they are favored in 2014. As always, if you make any cash using these angles, feel free to send some my way. Until next time.