College Football 2011: 20 Teams That Covered the Spread the Most in 2010

Dan ScofieldAnalyst IAugust 2, 2011

College Football 2011: 20 Teams That Covered the Spread the Most in 2010

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    If you're a betting man, you better be a lucky man.

    In 2010, the betting portion of college football was in full frenzy once again thanks to plenty of upsets, underdog-risings and lopsided-spankings. The most intelligent expert of college football would still have needed some luck on his side in 2010 if he were to come out a winning man.

    Starting with the reigning ATS (Against-the-Spread) champion, you'll be rather surprised when looking the top 20 teams up and down the standings. No matter how lucky you may be, there is realistically no chance someone can come up with a prediction list that looks similar to the final standings. 

    But after all, don't the inconsistencies in winning, stunning defeats and mysterious outcomes add to the beauty of college football? No question about it.

    In preparation for the 2011, let's take a closer look at how the 2010 college football season wrapped up in the minds of a sports better.

20. Stanford

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    ATS Record: 7-4-1

    Led by All-American sensation Andrew Luck under center, Stanford finished with an overall record of 11-1 by the end of 2010. 

    Although ranked fourth in the final BCS standings, a few let-downs against teams in which they should have blown out tarnished their overall ATS record last season.

    However, still a solid performance for a team that was thought to finish amongst the elite where they did.

19. Oregon

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    ATS Record: 7-5-1

    Just missing out on a championship ring, the Ducks weren't a let-down in many ways in 2010. In fact, they were back to their same consistent and winning ways behind LaMichael James' wonder season.

    However, despite sitting at the 19th position in the ATS standings, Oregon definitely had its fair share of disappointments in the eyes of the betters. With a 7-5-1 record against the spread, James will need to carry an even bigger workload in 2011, against the lesser competition in order to climb the rankings.

18. Illinois

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    ATS Record: 8-4

    After a decently solid campaign in 2010, the Fighting Illini held strong in the betting columns finishing with eight wins against the spread. 

    With a bowl game victory against Baylor, it seems as if Illinois is righted on a positive track. They show no signs in slowing down in 2011 and don't be afraid to put your money on this team once again.

    Past results speak volume for a program on the rise.

17. San Diego State

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    ATS Record: 8-4

    No team playing in a mid-level conference finishing with nine wins will be on anyone's national radar you would think. Unless you're a program like the Aztec's, of course.

    Under now Michigan-bound Brady Hoke, San Diego State was phenomenal against the spread, going 8-4 in those games. Their four true losses, all against good competition, came by a total of 15 points—combined.

    2010 was a special season for the Aztecs, but without Hoke at the helm, they may be a risky bet this year.

16. Ohio

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    ATS Record: 8-4

    When I said there would be some surprises on this list, Ohio would qualify as one of those.

    Even with their unimpressive eight-win campaign in 2010, they found a way to beat the spread almost every week. Most importantly, their solid wins against Temple and Buffalo were key in including Ohio in these rankings.

    This just proves that you don't need to be big-timey in order to help out the sport's betters.

    A winning team, no matter how insignificant, can win anyone big money.

15. Maryland

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    ATS Record: 8-4

    The Terapins, an above-average ACC team in 2010, were kind to their supporters by pulling an 8-4 record against the spread together. However, even though a 15th slot is worthy of praise for a team that won eight regular season games in 2010, there is plenty room for improvement.

    Maryland will need to step it up in big games this coming season if they want to improve on a solid season last year; all four of their losses came in their four biggest of the year—vs. Florida State, at Miami, at Clemson and at West Virginia

14. Connecticut

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    ATS Record: 8-4

    Another one of those middle-of-the-road programs to make the top 20, the Huskies were actually very formidable in making the spread last season.

    Although they didn't have the firepower of a top 25 team, they still were able to reach a BCS Bowl game.

    Despite the fact they got smacked from the opening whistle, Connecticut's 2010 season was impressive in regards to not only winning the Big East, but winning most of its spread matchups as well.

13. Tulsa

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    ATS Record: 8-4

    Tulsa happens to a be a pretty good football program as of late. In fact, they check in as our 13th-best ATS team in 2010.

    Despite one misstep against Oklahoma State late in the season, Tulsa made it's way through its schedule relatively easy. With only three losses and a boatload of wins to add to their resume, including victories against Notre Dame, Houston and Hawaii, you can easily label their 2010 season a successful one. 

    Although they won't be as popular a bet in 2011, Tulsa gained itself some supporters thanks to their penchant to beat the spread in 2010.

12. Texas A&M

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    ATS Record: 8-4

    Forget the Aggies midseason slide, and you would have been looking at one of the top five programs in the ATS standings.

    However, after three straight losses (four including an ATS loss to a weak Florida International team), Texas A&M fell to the 12th-spot on the list.

    Losses aside, A&M produced a fairly productive 2010 season on both paper and on the field. The closing to their season was one of the best in the country, winning their final six contests (Kansas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Baylor, Nebraska and Texas) before falling just short against LSU during bowl season.

11. Boise State

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    ATS Record: 8-4

    Being Boise State against the spread is like being the world's best athlete—when they are winning, it comes expected. When they lose, on the other hand, you better book it out of Boise.

    The Bronco's, year in and year out, are predicted to blow out their in-conference foes while beating up on a few bigger programs along the way.

    Although they generally take care of almost every opponent on their schedule, that doesn't always mean the spread is favorably for them. In fact, many can argue that Boise State is at a major disadvantage when it comes to these rankings, yet they still find themselves sitting comfortably at the 11-slot.

    Chris Peterson's program failed to meet the spread against Oregon State, Louisiana Tech, Nevada and Utah State in 2010. Expect an improvement from that this coming season.

10. Auburn

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    ATS Record: 9-4

    This ranking just goes to show how much winning big, and not winning period, attributes to the ATS rankings. Auburn, last year's national champion, just barely sneaks into the top 10.

    Predicted as a top five team to begin the 2010 season, the Tigers were knowingly handed some pretty large spreads when it came to the lesser teams on their slate.

    This is where the difference was and is usually made, exemplified by Cam Newton being given the task to reach the -40.5 line given to his team facing Chattanooga.

    Auburn (and any elite program for that matter) will always be a solid team to put your money down on. However, expect some let-downs when it comes to bigger spreads as many factors go in to these matchups that don't look too competitive on paper.

9. Northern Illinois

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    ATS Record: 9-3-1

    Northern Illinois made a name for themselves both on the field and with the bookies in 2010.

    A solid, yet unknown, commodity of a program, Northern Illinois was another mid-major program that took a big step forward last year. With only three losses on the season, both in the standings and against the spread, they rode a successful regular season to a whopping victory against Fresno State in their bowl game matchup.

    Yet, another overacheiving mid-major helping out those who put faith in their team to beat the spread. Northern Illinois will continue to build on its 2010 successes. 

8. Arizona State

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    ATS Record: 8-2-2

    Arizona State really wasn't much of a team in 2010, despite having a winning record by season's end. In almost every big game, they failed to show up (Wisconsin, Oregon, USC, Stanford). 

    For another reminder, the ATS standings measure something different. Although the Sun Devils faced a very difficult schedule in 2010, they weren't able to reel in the wins.

    But in regards to their spreads, Arizona State took care of business for the most part, notching an 8-2-2 record against this stiff competition. They may not have finished the job against this elite schedule, but what they did do is compete while beating the assigned spread.

7. North Carolina State

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    ATS Record: 9-3

    Another program coming out of the ACC, NC State proved to be a contender thanks to the arms and legs of former quarterback Russell Wilson.

    After beating some big name teams in 2010 (Florida State, Georgia Tech, West Virginia) and surviving most spreads handed out to them, the Wolfpack earned their way into the top 10 of the ATS rankings.

    With the departure of Wilson, however, don't look for many improvements coming anytime soon. However, a seven-slot ranking for an ACC program known more for its basketball rather than football isn't too shabby. 

    If you bet on NC State last year, take your money and good luck elsewhere this September.

6. Oklahoma State

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    ATS Record: 9-3

    With a high-powered offense that sees a spread line as a friend rather than a foe, Oklahoma State lost only two games in 2010. On top of some impressive victories, it seems as if the program has finally found some consistency as of late.

    OSU was able to beat the spread in all but three games—vs. Troy, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. The latter two are understandable, but one slip-up in the game against Troy (a 41-38 victory) might have cost them from making the top five in the against the spread rankings.

5. Arkansas

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    ATS Record: 9-3

    Forgive Arkansas for their poor showing.

    No, they didn't lose many games in 2010. In fact, they lost three games against three powerhouses in Alabama, Auburn and Ohio State while making a BCS bowl game.

    On paper, Arkansas was one of the best teams in the country, both according to the spread and BCS rankings.

    If it weren't for two highly-inflated spreads against Tennessee Tech and UL-Monroe, you might see Arkansas making a push for a top spot in the ATS. The "cupcake" games, as some may refer to them, always come with a small yet expensive negative in their inflated spreads.

4. Central Florida

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    ATS Record: 10-3

    Central Florida proved to be the grandaddy of all mid-majors last season against the spread.

    With an exciting offense and decent schedule to go along with it, they rode a 9-3 regular season record into a bowl matchup with Georgia. They won that game 10-6.

    Again, they don't have a schedule that compares to any of the Big Six programs. But they did get the job done after knowing what was expected from them.

    Spreads or not, Central Florida deserves recognition for their stellar 2010 season, in which they finished in the top 25 rankings in addition to finishing as the fourth-best team against the spread.

3. Virginia Tech

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    ATS Record: 10-3

    One of the most hyped up teams of 2010 got off to an 0-2 start thanks to losses to both Boise State and James Madison. Yes, you read that right—James Madison.

    But the Hokies did what most couldn't do after such a rough start. They prevailed and finished their season stronger than ever by reeling off 10 straight wins before falling in their BCS bowl matchup against the mighty Stanford Cardinal.

    Against the spread, they weren't too bad. In fact, they come in as the third-best team dating back to last season in the eyes of a college football better. Forget the days of the JMU loss—the Hokies should be a safer team to bet on in 2011.

2. Ohio State

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    ATS Record: 9-2-1

    What's a discussion about the best against the spread teams without including violation-ridden Ohio State? With a schedule loaded with some big spreads, it's almost fun to watch the Buckeyes trying to reach that -40 spread usually assigned to them for the first few weeks of the season.

    Coming in as the second-best team in the nation against the spread, it appears they didn't do too bad in this regard. They did fail to cover the line against Wisconsin and Illinois, but then again, not many teams did.

    Against Eastern Michigan, with a -44.5 spread on the line, the Buckeyes were still able to take care of business. These guys may be in trouble, but they know how to make their betters happy.

1. Hawaii

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    ATS Record: 11-2

    And saving the most shocking for last, our 2010 ATS champion—the Hawaii Warriors.

    With an outstanding ATS record of 11-2, the Warriors found a way to win most of their games in 2010 while beating the spread—something most college football teams fail to do all season long. Behind the exciting and talent-rich offense led by quarterback Bryant Moniz, the Warriors were a dangerous team when putting your money against.

    If you did take the chance and put your money against the Hawaiians, you may want to think twice before you do so in 2011. There shouldn’t be too many setbacks this coming year, especially with that same attacking offense back in true form.