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.
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.
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.
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
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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