Originally written on Sports-Glory  |  Last updated 7/3/12

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Quarterback Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal calls signals during the game with the USC Trojans on November 14, 2009 at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. Stanford won 55-21. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

By SBRForum.com

Every college football season a few teams make their marks on the minds of those who offer up free football picks by covering a high percentage of the point spreads they face each week.  Some of those teams are overachievers, some are under-rated, some are a combination of both. Here's a quick review of some of last year's best ATS performers, and what 2012 might hold for them.

Stanford was the best team in college football to bet on last year, going 11-2 vs. the point spreads. In looking back it doesn't appear as if the Cardinal were especially underrated by the oddsmakers; everybody knew about Andrew Luck and the team that Coach Harbaugh built before bolting for the NFL. Rather the Farmers seemed to outperformed the lines, covering as favorites of 30, 21, 23, 29, 20, 18 and 21 points.

Going into last year Stanford returned 11 starters, including Luck; this year the Cardinal get back 13 starters, but no Luck. So maybe they've got a chance to be under-rated this season.

Out in the WAC Louisiana Tech also went 11-2 ATS last year. The Bulldogs had 13 starters back for its first season under new Coach Dykes, and were picked to finish anywhere from second to fifth in the WAC. Instead they won the conference title, and covered spreads against non-conference foes Southern Miss, Houston and Mississippi State and TCU.

This year Louisiana Tech returns 13 starters, including their senior quarterback, so they won't be sneaking up on anybody. 

Finally, the Houston Cougars went 11-3 ATS last year, with QB Case Keenum leading an offense that basically outgunned most point spreads. Houston covered spreads as favorites of 21, 41, 24, 28, 28, 34 and 20 points, and beat Penn State in their bowl game 30-14 as seven-point chalk.

This season the Cougars get back 12 starters but lost Coach Sumlin to Texas A&M and have to replace Keenum.  

Elsewhere on last year's list of money makers, national runner-up LSU and Michigan State both went 10-4 ATS; national champion Alabama, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, BYU, Rutgers, Temple and Vanderbilt all went 9-4 ATS; and in the “way under the radar” category Western Kentucky, Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette, playing down in the Sun Belt, went 10-2, 10-3 and 9-4, respectively, vs. the point spreads.

Obviously though, beating the spreads with regularity one season doesn't mean teams will do the same the next. In 2010 the top nine college football teams vs. the spreads were Hawaii, Central Florida, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, North Carolina State, Northern Illinois, Virginia Tech, Auburn and Arizona State, who combined to go 90-27 ATS. In 2011 those nine teams combined to go 48-67 ATS. 

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