Iowa No. 1 vs. spread

Aug 23, 2005 4:45 AM

While most publications analyze the strengths and weaknesses of college football teams, most sports bettors are pondering how their favorite teams will fare against the point spread.

The point spread is the great equalizer, allowing teams with questionable ability to compete against what should be superior opponents.

Often times, bettors find that the best teams aren’t necessarily the strongest teams when it comes to beating the spread.

For instance, one pre-season poll’s top 10 includes teams that failed to make our top 25 point spread teams — Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Texas and Miami-Florida.

Similarly, teams with mediocre or even poor win-loss records sometimes turn out to be money-makers, when it comes to beating the number.

This season, we’ve put together a list of the top 25 college teams, based on point-spread records compiled over the past three years.

Because changes can occur relatively frequently with college programs, three years seems to be a fair time period in which to evaluate the team’s ability to meet or exceed expectations.

Note that many college teams have point-spread records that are much better than their NFL counterparts.

The reason for the disparity is that college games can be one-sided, while there’s more parity in the NFL, which creates situations where games are decided at the end.

Also, linemakers probably do a better job analyzing pro games because they are so high profile, plus the most high-stakes betting action occurs on NFL contests.

Obviously, a lot can happen from year to year. A team can lose key players or even their coach, and end up having a disastrous season.

Or odds-makers may inflate lines against teams with lofty public expectations, only to have the team falter against the number.

Bettors must always keep in mind that a team is in flux due to changes in the schedule, injuries, player transfers, and the like. Having a good year against the spread doesn’t ensure duplicating the feat the following year.

Conversely, having a horrible year doesn’t necessarily mean the trend will continue.

Another point to keep in mind: The line-makers will adjust the point spread if a team continually beats the spread or loses against it. Bookmakers can’t afford to have high-percentage plays either way. They’re looking for parity — that is, equal point spread winners and losers — and statistics seem to suggest that they get close to that goal every season.

So, without further ado, check out this year’s top 25 teams in the accompanying chart.