Dr. Saturday

The week’s five best picks: Fresno State looks to continue perfect (ATS) season

Frank Schwab
Dr. Saturday

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(Associated Press)

That's a little better.

Last week was a little rally after a bad start to the season. Four easy wins out of five picks, and Northwestern would have made it five out of five had it not blown a second-half lead to Penn State.

There might be a lesson in that Northwestern result about not taking road teams, or betting underdogs, but there haven't been any reliable trends this season.

Last season, big favorites seemed to cover every week for the first half of the season. According to covers.com, as of Friday no trend concerning favorites or underdogs, road teams or home teams, is hitting at better than 51.66 percent this season (away underdogs, of all things, is the strongest trend - and it's not that strong). There also aren't any automatic teams to back or fade, with just a handful with five results against the spread being undefeated (Fresno State, Western Kentucky, Louisiana-Monroe, San Jose State and Utah State) and only one winless ATS team (Virginia).

So I'm basically throwing darts, but you knew that was the case anyway:

Fresno State (+7.5) over Boise State: I think I'd be more impressed with a perfect season against the spread than a perfect straight-up season. The linemakers can always keep inflating the spread on a dominant team; they can't do anything to help Missouri beat Alabama straight up this week. Fresno State has played six games and covered them all, and it's not time to abandon ship yet. For years Boise State seemed to cover the spread every week, but this year the Broncos rank 85th in yards on offense, so they're not a good bet to put up a ton of points. Fresno State has a potent offense with quarterback Derek Carr and a capable defense. The spread seems a few points high.

Tennessee (+3) over Mississippi State: The Mississippi State story is very cool, one of the best in college football this year. But here's who the Bulldogs have beaten: Jackson State, Auburn (a win that looks less impressive every time the Tigers play), Troy, South Alabama and Kentucky. Tennessee's losses are to Florida and Georgia. Mississippi State could be for real. Still, taking Tennessee and a field goal seems right.

Stanford (+7) over Notre Dame: Stanford is tough to figure out, but we know the Cardinal is capable of beating good teams. The defense was good before last week's odd meltdown against Arizona. Notre Dame could win, but this feels like a low-scoring grinder of a game.

Washington (+13) over USC: The Trojans have played really well other than the loss to Stanford. But, Washington should perform better than it did last week against Oregon and being at home should help. The Huskies defense has shown flashes. Also, there's a 70 percent chance for rain in Seattle (only 70 percent?), which could help slow down USC's offense, at least enough to keep the game somewhat close.

Iowa State (+6.5) over Kansas State: Our fifth underdog of the week (and hopefully the start of underdogs becoming a winning trend). Kansas State deserves its ranking, but Iowa State is 4-1 and getting almost a touchdown at home. Add in a possible look-ahead situation for Kansas State (it plays at West Virginia next week) and it's hard to see a blowout win for the Wildcats. Getting a full touchdown would be nice, but 6.5 points for a live home underdog is never a bad play.

Last week: 4-1

This season: 9-10-1

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