Cha-ching: Underdogs lead a pile of FBS divisions
When you scroll the college football standings this year, it’s easier to find preseason underdogs leading their divisions than it is to find faves. Overall, their ATS (against the spread) record is a combined 49-14-2 - an incredible winning percentage of 75.4.
We asked Covers Experts Steve Merril
and Marc Lawrence
to help us examine these unexpected leaders and determine whether they’re posers or closers heading into the back stretch of the season. The records listed below in brackets indicate their conference record to date:Duke (leads the ACC Coastal at 3-1) – 6-2 ATS on the season
Preseason odds: 130-1 to win the ACC, 30-1 to win the Coastal. Heaviest dog in the conference.
Poser. Better offensively than in past, but still not at the same level defensively as the real contenders.Lawrence:
Posers. Now that they've climbed the summit and are preparing for a bowl game for the first time since the 1994 season, look for a slide backwards. The signs were starting to show (out-statted in previous three games) before last week's celebratory win over North Carolina.
Kansas State (leads Big 12 at 4-0) – 5-1-1 ATS on the season
Preseason odds: 16-1 to win Big 12, 6th favorite in the conferenceMerril:
Closer. Their win at Oklahoma is starting to look more impressive each week and they destroyed both Miami and WVU by 39 and 41 points. This is a legitimate national title contender, but tough games remain almost every week.Lawrence:
Closer. They may have been a phony 10-win team last season (allowed 57 YPG more than they gained) but they're not this year (gaining 110 YPG more than they allow). True test comes down the stretch against five remaining foes who are 28-10 combined. Florida – (leads SEC and SEC East at 4-0) 6-1 ATS
Preseason odds: 12-1 to win the SEC (6th favorite) and 7-2 to win East (4th favorite)
Semi-poser. A very good defensive team, but not sure their offense is strong enough (only 5.4 yards per play). Also, tough games remain on schedule (UGA and at FSU, plus possible SEC title game).Kent State (leads MAC & East at 4-0) 6-1 ATS
Preseason odds: 10-1 to win conference (6th favorite), 9-2 to win East (4th favorite)
Posers. Flashes FBS opponents are 10-31 this season and they have been out-yarded in five of their seven games
UL Munroe (lead Sun Belt at 3-0) 6-1 ATS
Preseason odds: 15-2 (5th favorite)Merril:
Closer. Solid on both sides of the ball, especially defensively by Sun Belt standards. Impressive near misses against SEC teams (Arkansas and Auburn) this year.Lawrence:
Closer. Warhawks have gone toe-to-toe with three SEC teams (all ATS wins) and only spread loss was 21-point win over FAU.
Utah State (leads WAC at 2-0) 7-0-1 ATS
Preseason odds: 15-2 (5th favorite)Lawrence:
Closer. Aggies finished up 2011 with five wins in a row. Only two losses this season have been by two and three points to Wisconsin and BYU respectivelyMississippi State (2nd in SEC West at 3-0) 5-2 ATS
Preseason odds: 35-1 to win SEC (8th favorite) and 6-1 to win West (5th favorite)Merril:
Closer. A legit team that has outscored their opponents 37-14 this season. Solid on both sides of the ball.
Others to note: Rutgers (leads Big East at 4-0) 5-2 ATS
Preseason odds: 11-2 (3rd favorite)Tulsa (leads C-USA and the West at 5-0) 3-4 ATS
Preseason odds: 6-1 (4th favorite) and 5-2 to win West (2nd favorite)