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Bettors Best and Worst Friends of the Month: September Edition
by Nick Parsons

This article was written by Nick Parsons' intern Myles Valentin.

Here is a look at schools in the major conferences that have been good and bad to bettors in the first month of college football.

Although everyone loves a team that consistently covers, this list does not necessarily reflect the school with the best record against the spread, but rather ones that have been somewhat predictable or provided good value.

And likewise "Bettors Worst Friends" are those unpredictable teams that have produced nothing but frustration and lost hair.


Best Friend: Maryland

Maryland is here simply for their inability to cover the spread. At 1-3 (0-4 ATS), many bettors caught on to this trend in the opener with their 52-13 loss to Cal. The second game gave further indication of their demise with just a three point win over James Madison. Maryland was favored the next two games against an improved Middle Tennessee and a decent Rutgers team. Bettors who realized that this team was terrible found value not just in the spread, but in the moneyline as well.

Worst Friend: Florida State

The Seminoles 2-2 (1-3 ATS) have produced unpredictable results in all four of their games. They lost to rival Miami at home and then failed to cover the next week against FCS team Jacksonville State. The next week they were listed as 8.5 point dogs against a hot BYU team and they blew them out, 54-28. This impressive performance was followed by a 17-7 upset loss against a South Florida team that was playing without star QB Matt Grothe.

BIG 12

Best Friend: Nebraska

The Cornhuskers have covered the spread in all four of their games having to deal with a number larger than 21 in three of those contests. Spreads have been comfortably covered by an average of 15.1 points. The one time they weren't favorites was as 5.5 underdogs on the road versus Virginia Tech, where they only loss by one point.

Worst Friend: Texas

Most people expect national title contenders to cover and Texas 4-0 (1-3 ATS) failed to do this in their first three games. In the opener against UL Monroe, the Longhorns allowed a TD with 2:55 left in the game, allowing the Warhawks to backdoor cover. Next week added more frustration with a slow start against Wyoming as they failed to cover by half a point. The losing streak continued in a nationally televised match-up against Texas Tech. Those expecting the trend to continue were probably disappointed when they blew out UTEP 64-7 to cover the -36.5 spread.


Best Friend: UCONN

Oddsmakers have given UConn (4-0 ATS) backers reasonable numbers to deal with and the Huskies have not disappointed as they have covered in every game this year. Their most impressive performance was against North Carolina as 4.5 point dogs.

They took advantage of a flu plagued team leading 10-0 for most the game, but a fourth quarter comeback made UConn backers sweat as North Carolina now had the opportunity to cover. But with the score tied 10-10, UConn gave up a safety with 1:32 left, putting North Carolina up by two and thus preventing them from scoring a TD to cover the spread.

Worst Friend: Rutgers

The Scarlet Knights began the season as -4.5 point favorites against Cincinnati but were blown out 47-15. They would go on to win the next three games straight up, but they failed to cover the spread against cupcakes Howard and Florida International.

BIG 10

Best Friend: Iowa

The near upset loss at the start of the season against Northern Iowa gave Hawkeye (3-0 ATS) backers reasonable numbers to work with. This was a team that entered the year on a four game winning streak and just upset Penn State in Happy Valley. They also have one of the most talented defenses in the conference. Oddsmakers gave out early Christmas gifts by making them single digits favorites against Iowa State and Arizona.

Worst Friend: Penn State

In the 2008 regular season Penn State had to deal with double digit spreads in their three non-conference games and they covered the spread in all of them. So many backers entered the season thinking that they would do the same against Akron, Syracuse, and Temple. As expected they won their games but did not cover once.

The ATS losing streak continued as they failed to use motivation from their 2008 loss and home field advantage in a 21-10 loss to Iowa. What made matters worse in the game was that they jumped out to a 10-0 first quarter lead, giving their backers false hope into thinking they would easily cover the -9.5 spread. No one likes a tease.

PAC 10

Best Friend: UCLA

UCLA has covered the spread in all three of their games dealing with double digit wins against San Diego State and Kansas State and scoring an upset win as 10.5 dogs on the road versus Tennessee. With all the attention on their cross-town rivals, people are forgetting that they have an offensive genius in Norm Chow calling plays for them (see below).

Worst Friend: USC

USC has not been the same team since Norm Chow left them in 2004. Chow knew how to use the talent around him and his teams were exciting. Things looked good to start 2009 as the Trojans covered the -33.5 spread easily against San Jose State but this was followed by three straight ATS losses.

They pulled off an amazing win at the Horseshoe against Ohio State but bland play calling perhaps made this game closer than it should have been. Everyone knows about the upset loss to Washington and last week the Trojans only beat Washington State 27-6, failing to score in the second and third quarters.

The Trojans were 34-17 ATS from 2001-2004 when Chow was the offensive coordinator. Since then they are 28-27-1 ATS.


Best Friend: Auburn

Those who did their homework in the off-season and familiarized themselves with Gus Malzahn profited nicely with Auburn in the month of September. Not only has 4-0 Auburn gone 3-1 ATS, but the Tigers have also gone over the total in all four games and by an average of 19.5 points! Malzahn was the offensive coordinator at Tulsa in 2007 and 2008 where they averaged 41.1 and 47.2 points per game. The year before he came, they only averaged 27.7.

First year Auburn coach Gene Chizik brought in Malzahn on his staff to turn around a dull offense that only averaged 17.3 points per game last year and it seems to be working. Oddsmakers did not think he would have much of an impact setting the total at 45 and 46.5 for the first two games. They caught on and bumped the total to 54 for the West Virginia game, but that did not matter as they won 41-30. The total was 54.5 last week against Ball State and Malzahn's offense nearly covered that themselves with a 54-30 victory.

Worst Friend: LSU

The LSU Tigers are undefeated this year but they are 1-3 ATS. The only team that they have covered against this year was from a non-BCS conference. Oddsmakers have not helped backers either as they have made Les Miles' team double digit favorites in all of their games. As 12-point favorites last week they barely beat Mississippi State 30-26

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