Who are the best (and worst) college football teams against the spread?

The topic du jours in college football these days involves which teams are the best in the country. We dissect the rankings each and every week and debate who should be in, and who should be out of the Playoff. It’s a fun and mind-numbingly endless debate.

I’m not here today to have that discussion. Instead, I’m going to present a different sort of rankings to you today. Instead, I’m here to break down the best teams this season against the spread.

Most of the time, when trying to learn who the best teams to wager a little capital on each week, you want to know what their records are against the spread. That’s certainly important, I wanted to take the time in this post to dive even deeper. Instead of purely looking at records today, I wanted to look at spread margin.

What’s spread margin? Well let me tell you!

Spread margin is the average difference between a point spread and the actual margin of victory or defeat in a game. If a team is favored by 10 points, but wins by 20, their spread margin in that game is 10. Make sense?

So while one team may be 8-2 against the number this season, another team may be 6-4, but with a more substantial spread margin, that may be a more helpful number.

The teams with the best spread margins are rarely going to be the best teams — that’s because the best teams usually need to cover a big spread. The bigger the spread, the harder it is to cover. So while teams like Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State might be public darlings — you need to dig a little deeper to find the teams who can exploit those point spreads.

Here are the five best Power Five teams in the country relative to the spread this season:

TEAM                    SPREAD MARGIN                    ATS RECORD

Iowa State             + 13.3                                           7-2

Notre Dame          + 11.4                                           7-2

Georgia                  + 10.1                                           6-3

Purdue                   + 8.9                                             6-3

Boston College      + 8.8                                             6-3

This is a neat way to find teams that have exceeded expectations the most this season. We all know Notre Dame and Georgia have things rolling, and Iowa State has pulled off a couple massive upsets, but what about Purdue and Boston College? Two teams off the national radar who have been crushing the point spread so far this season.

Does this mean these teams will continue to be cash cows in the final few weeks? Not necessarily. After all, the top three teams on that list all failed to cover last week. Meanwhile Purdue covered easily against Illinois, while Boston College was on a bye. Going forward, it’s up to you to decide if you think these teams can maintain their unexpectedly high level of play, or if you think the Vegas numbers will catch up to them and you can go the other way to exploit an overcorrection.

Also, just for fun, here are the five worst teams in the Power Five against the spread:

TEAM                    SPREAD MARGIN                    ATS RECORD

Kansas                   – 10.9                                           2-7

Louisville              – 10.1                                           2-7

Florida State         – 10.1                                           0-6-2

Oregon State         – 9.7                                             3-6

Arkansas               – 9.6                                             2-6-1

Isn’t it amazing that Kansas tops this list? The Jayhawks are constantly 28, 35, 40-point underdogs and still can’t come close to sniffing a cover most of the time.

I’ll have my top gambling trends for Week 11, plus my best bets coming out on Friday. In the meantime, make sure to download today’s podcast with a FIRE teasers segment from Rossy Three Stacks, and all sorts of Playoff chatter with Alex Weaver.

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