College Football ATS Trends: Best NCAAF Teams to Bet From 2021

min read
Thanks in part to the emergence of quarterback Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky was one of the best ATS cover teams in college football.
(AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Chase Kiddy @chaseakiddy Aug 01, 2022, 2:22 PM
  • Eight college football teams covered 70% (or more) of their games in 2021, including Michigan and Michigan State.
  • While each case is different, high levels of success in 2021 may forecast regression to the mean in 2022.
  • Several teams that were successful in 2021 should be fade targets for bettors in the upcoming season.

The calendar has flipped to August, which means there is college football this month. You may celebrate in a manner of your choosing.

Personally, I’m diving deep into returning production and college football betting lines.

One of the markers I’m looking at before the season starts is ATS records from the 2021 season – not because I expect the trends to continue this fall, but because year-to-year mean regression is a wise thing to expect. 

Which College Football Teams Had the Best ATS Record in 2021?

Team2021 ATS RecordCover Percentage
Michigan11-378.6%
Oklahoma State10-3-176.9%
Michigan State9-3-175%
UAB9-3-175%
Western Kentucky10-4-171.4%
Baylor10-4-171.4%
Pittsburgh10-471.4%
Utah State10-471.4%

How 2021 ATS Trends Impact College Football in 2022

The eight teams who covered 70% of their games last season all have one key thing in common: they exceeded expectations.

Looking at each program case-by-case, bettors may find there was some luck involved for some teams or a coach that fared better than expected. Or maybe a sensational senior season propelled a quarterback to an unexpected professional career.

Regardless of individual season details, cover rates that lie that far north of the mean are – almost by definition – big wins against marketplace expectations.

But before signing on for another season of heavy action on this group, bettors should consider how each team will be handicapped in 2022.

It’s not exclusively a matter of regression. After last season, some of these teams will be much more public in 2022. As the marketplace lurches in their direction, any well-run online sportsbook will need to adjust the NCAAF odds to cover their exposure.

NCAAF Teams With the Best ATS Record Last Season

1. Michigan ATS Last Season

Michigan was 11-3 against the spread last season, with the Wolverines covering in 78.6% of their games.

2. Oklahoma State ATS Last Season

Oklahoma State had a 10-3-1 record against the spread last season, with the Cowboys covering in 76.9% of their games.

3. Michigan State ATS Last Season

Michigan State University had a 9-3-1 record against the spread last season, with the Spartans covering in 75% of their games.

4. UAB ATS Last Season

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) had a 9-3-1 record against the spread last season, with the Blazers covering in 75% of their games.

5. Western Kentucky ATS Last Season

Western Kentucky Michigan had a 10-4-1 record against the spread last season, with the Hilltoppers covering in 71.4% of their games.

6. Baylor ATS Last Season

Baylor had a 10-4-1 record against the spread last season, with the Bears covering in 71.4% of their games.

7. Pittsburgh ATS Last Season

The University of Pittsburgh had a 10-4 record against the spread last season, with the Panthers covering in 71.4% of their games.

8. Utah State ATS Last Season

Utah State had a 10-4 record against the spread last season, with the Aggies covering in 71.4% of their games.

College Football Betting Lines: Michigan Football Odds

One fantastic example of this is the marketplace swell around the Michigan Wolverines. 

Michigan has been a good, not-quite-elite program for most of Jim Harbaugh’s coaching run in Ann Arbor. Last year, though, the Wolverines beat Ohio State en route to the Big Ten championship.

For their triumph, they were invited to the College Football Playoff. (They lost to Georgia, 34-11, but we’ll talk about that some other time.)

Last year, Michigan’s win total was set at eight.

This year? 9.5. And you’d better believe those week-to-week college football spreads will be far pricier, too.

Michigan ranks in the bottom half of college football returning production. Its losses include high-impact players like Aiden Hutchinson, one of the top picks in this year’s NFL Draft.

Michigan seems like a classic fade target, with some regression inevitable. 

Baylor and Pitt are similarly positioned. Pitt lost Kenny Pickett to the draft and Jordan Addison to the transfer portal; will bettors remember that, or that they won a crappy conference last year? 

With a win total at 8.5, it seems like it may be the latter.

As for Baylor, the Bears played great defense in 2021, which won them the Big 12 after an epic, last-minute goal-line stand against Oklahoma State. However, they enter the 2022 college football season with one of the most depleted rosters in FBS. 

Win total: 7.5, with major (-155) juice on the over.

Winning gamblers with positive long-term ROI expect regression before it happens. 

Don’t be afraid to bet against some of these teams that won big in 2021.

 

Place College Football Bets at BetMGM

At BetMGM, you can bet on college football with updated college football odds, parlays, live betting, and more.

The best mobile sports betting and online sports betting experiences are at the online sportsbook throughout the season.

Jamie Foxx holding a mobile phone next to the BetMGM's risk-free bet offer.
About the Author

Chase Kiddy

Read More @chaseakiddy

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.