Favorites still cash most in college football

Sep 6, 2008 8:28 PM

by Mark Mayer | East Carolina will try to garner some money for underdog bettors Saturday in seeking a second straight upset victory over a ranked team.

Last week the Pirates defeated Virginia Tech 27-22 as a 9-point underdog. This time it’s West Virginia, a 7½-point road favorite in Greenville, North Carolina. It’s no longer a secret that East Carolina’s Skip Holtz is one of the top coaches for covering spreads as either a favorite or an underdog.

Favorites took a 25-18 ATS lead following Ball State’s 35-23 home victory over Navy last night as a 7-point chalk. The marquee matchup Saturday is tonight in Gainesville, where Florida renews hostilities with Miami of Florida. The Hurricanes, a 23-point underdog, have won the last six meetings but this is the first matchup since coach Urban Meyer came to Florida. The last meeting was the 2001 Sugar Bowl where Miami won 37-20.

Other top matchups feature Georgia Tech as a 6½-point underdog at Boston College in their first ACC game, Oklahoma a 22½-point home favorite against Cincinnati, Penn State a 15½-point chalk over visiting Oregon State, Arizona State a 14-point home favorite over Stanford in Pac 10 play, BYU an 8-point road favorite against Washington State, Ohio State a 33½-point favorite in Columbus over Ohio U and Utah a 21½-point choice over UNLV in Mountain West action.

Favorites jumped out to a 6-2 ATS advantage through the first eight games with the largest advantage at 19-10 and 21-12. The count is not that surprising since a large number of early-season matchups involve established teams against cupcakes with spreads ranging from 20 to 35 points. Teams favored by 20 points or more have a 60 percent cover ratio (5-3 ATS).