Sharing and comparing my method for trying to beat the spread

I live in the Midwest which is Big Ten country. Once conference play starts virtually every Big Ten game is televised in my region and I commit myself to try and watch all of them. I have three televisions set up as some games are being played at the same time. I have no bias or affiliation to any Big Ten team as I am a lifelong Notre Dame fan (I include ND games in my viewing schedule as well). My comments and reports are qualified only by my love of the game and an extreme commitment to watching and following Big Ten football.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


LAST YEAR
Wow, what a strange season. Just when you think you’ve got a team figured out a completely different team shows up on Saturday. Enough to drive the prospectors crazy if you know what I mean.  No team went undefeated in conference play which is not unusual (hasn’t happened since 2006) and there were occasional upsets which are inevitable. This is especially true in the college game as the players are very young men. Still I found last year to be exceptional. One of the barometers most people use when trying to predict the outcome of upcoming games is how the two teams fared against common opponents. I mean it only stands to reason that if Iowa beats Michigan, a couple of weeks later Michigan trounces Nebraska; then Iowa should beat Nebraska the following week, right? Wrong! As I looked over last year’s results I found 16 such cases like this-triangles if you will- where 3 teams split out. Again, in college football you’ll have these every year but I felt a few of last year’s triangles were real head-scratchers. I’ve detailed a few that caught me off guard followed by a listing of the rest that I found. I’m sure there are some that I’ve overlooked as well. 

9-10   MICHIGAN       35   NOTRE DAME  31           10-15  MICHIGAN ST  28   MICHIGAN   14
9-17   NOTRE DAME  31   MICHIGAN ST  13           10-29  NEBRASKA  24   MICHIGAN ST  3
10-15 MICHIGAN ST  28   MICHIGAN   14               11-19  MICHIGAN  45  NEBRASKA  17


10-1   WISCONSIN  48 NEBRASKA 17                       10-29 OHIO ST  33  WISCONSIN  29
10-8   NEBRASKA  34  OHIO ST  27                           11-19 PENN ST 20  OHIO ST  14
10-29 OHIO ST  33  WISCONSIN  29                         11-26  WISCONSIN  45  PENN ST  7 

Northwestern,Nebraska,Iowa- Penn St.,Northwestern,Nebraska- Purdue,Minnesota,Iowa
Michigan St.,Wisconsin,Nebraska- Ohio St.,Wisconsin,Purdue- Minnesota,Iowa,Northwestern
Nebraska,Iowa,Michigan- Nebraska,Michigan St.,Northwestern- Minnesota,Illinois,Northwestern
Iowa,Minnesota,Michigan- Ohio St.,Purdue,Illinois- Penn St.,Northwestern,Nebraska



CRYSTAL BALL
Is there anything more worthless than preseason predictions? It’s hard enough to guess what’s going to occur in the upcoming week much less over the course of a whole football season. I don’t care how much you know about the game, no one can tell when, if, or how often a team is going to let down during the season. No one knows where the next emerging star that catapults his team above expectations will come from. No one knows when injuries, suspensions, scandal, or a coach’s poor health will occur. But, ‘tis the season for preseason predictions. How else are you going to feed your “football jones” while you’re waiting for them to kick it off? Below are preseason predictions from some major publications. I’ve listed last year’s predictions along with last year’s results, this year’s predictions along with a combined ranking of the listed publications, and finally this year’s predictions from the couch. My predictions include comments on each team and, like all prognosticators, are written as though I know what I’m talking about. I’m fully aware that when it comes to predictions, no one does. 

                                                           2011
Phil Steele

ATHLON SPORTS

Lindy' sports

2011 Final Results
LEADERS
LEADERS
LEADERS
LEADERS
  1
Ohio St
1
Ohio St.
1
Ohio St.
1
Wisconsin
1
Wisconsin
2
Wisconsin
2
Wisconsin
1
Penn St.
1
Penn St.
3
Penn St.
3
Penn St.
3
Purdue
4
Illinois
4
Illinois
4
Purdue
4
Ohio St.
5
Purdue
5
Purdue
5
Illinois
5
Illinois
6
Indiana
6
Indiana
6
Indiana
6
Indiana
LEGENDS
LEGENDS
LEGENDS
LEGENDS
1
Nebraska
1
Nebraska
1
Nebraska
1
Michigan St.
1
Michigan St.
2
Michigan St.
2
Michigan St.
2
Michigan 
3
Iowa
3
Iowa
3
Michigan 
3
Nebraska
4
Northwestern
4
Michigan 
4
Iowa
4
Iowa
5
Michigan 
5
Northwestern
5
Northwestern
5
Northwestern
6
Minnesota
6
Minnesota
6
Minnesota
6
Minnesota 


                                                          2012

Phil Steele

ATHLON SPORTS

Lindy' sports

USA TODAY

CONSENSUS
LEADERS
LEADERS
LEADERS
LEADERS
LEADERS
1
Wisconsin
1
Ohio St.
1
Ohio St.
1
Ohio St.
1
Ohio St.
1
Ohio St.
2
Wisconsin
2
Wisconsin
2
Wisconsin
2
Wisconsin
3
Illinois
3
Penn St.
3
Penn St.
3
Penn St.
3
Penn St.
4
Purdue
4
Illinois
4
Purdue
4
Illinois
4
Illinois
5
Penn St.
5
Purdue
5
Illinois
5
Purdue
5
Purdue
6
Indiana
6
Indiana
6
Indiana
6
Indiana
6
Indiana
LEGENDS
LEGENDS
LEGENDS
LEGENDS
LEGENDS
1
Nebraska
1
Michigan 
1
Michigan 
1
Michigan 
1
Michigan 
1
Michigan 
2
Nebraska
2
Michigan St.
2
Nebraska
2
Nebraska
1
Michigan St.
3
Michigan St.
3
Nebraska
3
Michigan St.
3
Michigan St.
4
Iowa
4
Northwestern
4
Iowa
4
Iowa
4
Iowa
5
Northwestern
5
Iowa
5
Northwestern
5
Northwestern
5
Northwestern
6
Minnesota
6
Minnesota
6
Minnesota
6
Minnesota
6
Minnesota


FROM THE COUCH PREDICTIONS
Leaders
    1.     OHIO ST. (6-2), (10-2) - The Buckeyes overall record will be better than the team itself as they benefit from a few factors: a) the non-conference slate is weak, b) Penn St. should be down this year, leaving Wisconsin as the only serious threat in the Leaders division, c) games against any potential threats will be played at home as the Buckeyes leave the “shoe” only four times this year.

2.     WISCONSIN (6-2),(10-2) - The Badgers will take their usual place in the middle of the national rankings throughout the year as a one loss team, setting up a showdown with Ohio St. on the next to last game of the season. This team will also benefit from a weak non-conference schedule (does Wisconsin ever play a strong one?) and thus will reflect an inflated overall record.

3.     PURDUE (4-4),(7-5) - This is supposed to be the best Purdue team in the Danny Hope era. How much that means remains to be seen. Look for the same ol’ Boilermakers to pull off an upset and also suffer a letdown loss.

4.     ILLINOIS (3-5),(6-6)- Hard to tell what will happen with this team as a new coaching staff takes over. The Illini have enough to start 4-1 before taking trips to Madison and Ann Arbor. Hard to see them knocking off any of the big boys and can’t really give them an edge in the 50-50 games due to the growing pains that come with a new staff. Starting QB Nathan Sheelhaase and a decent defense could, however, prove otherwise.

5.     PENN ST. (1-7),(2-10)- Amazing what can happen in one year’s time. A new coach and a roster diluted due to key players transferring out of the program will make wins hard to come by for the Nittany Lions.

6.     INDIANA (1-7),(4-8)- Last year’s Hoosier team wasn’t as bad as most publications proclaim as they were competitive at times. Still a long way to go but can see some non-conference wins on the schedule and possibly stealing a conference win.
Legends
     1.     MICHIGAN (6-2),(8-4)- The Wolverines will be good. Just not as good as projected (top ten nationally) which is probably based on last year’s results (11-2). A close look reveals, however, that other than an impressive trouncing of Nebraska at home, the Wolves didn’t really win any challenging games. The exception being the Notre Dame game which could have went either way (terrible display of pass defense on both sides of the ball-last possession wins). Ohio St. had a sub par team and the Wolves were fortunate enough to catch the rest of the teams on their schedule at vulnerable times. The schedule is tougher this year and while they won't match last year's overall record, Michigan still will be good enough to contend for the Big Ten title.

2.     MICHIGAN ST. (6-2),(9-3)- No starting skill position players return on offense but the offensive line returns four and the defense is loaded. There is an obvious question mark at QB, but Mark Dantiono has this program headed in the right direction so the Spartans should also be in the hunt for the title.

3.     NEBRASKA (6-2),(9-3)- Last year’s Cornhusker team was projected to win the title in their inaugural season in the Big Ten. Moving from the Big Twelve meant facing tougher defenses and different style offenses which proved to be too much for the Huskers to live up to expectations. Last year wasn’t a total disaster, however, and there is a good nucleus of returning starters. Bo Pelini has had a year to adjust and if this year’s team can maintain some consistency that was missing from last year and Husker nation would stop beating on Taylor Martinez (too late to change the kid’s throwing motion) and let him build some confidence, Nebraska could very well win this conference.

4.     NORTHWESTERN (4-4),(7-5)- For the past several seasons Northwestern has always been able to score on any team and any team has been able to score on Northwestern. This translates to mean that Northwestern can beat any team and any team can beat Northwestern. Expect another roller coaster ride this season.

5.     IOWA (3-5),(7-5)- Kirk Ferentz revamped his coaching staff this year in an effort to move the Hawkeyes out of the rut of mediocrity they’ve been wallowing in the past couple of years. This could be a good move, especially at the OC spot, but this season will clearly be transitional. Couple that with the fact that there aren’t many starters returning and QB James Vandenberg has yet to step up against some of the better defenses and it appears that the Hawkeyes will endure at least one more year of wallowing.

6.     MINNESOTA (2-6),(5-7)- Jerry Kill has developed a reputation as an excellent coach. Can’t help but give him a mulligan for last year as he dealt with health issues early in the season. He inherited a program that was at a low point and from the couch it appeared the team was improving with each passing week after his health issues came to a head (North Dakota St. game) and were addressed. The Gophers managed to pull off a couple of conference upsets and with starting QB Marquis Gray returning should be able to do at least the same this year and improve on their overall record.

You may notice that I’ve predicted a two way tie in the Leaders division and a three way tie in the Legends. I came up with my win-loss records by going through the season week by week, trying to get a feel for where a team might be mentally at certain points of the year. I used the Big Ten tie breaker system to place the teams in their listed order. Ohio St. is first in the Leaders division because I have them beating Wisconsin head to head. I had to go to the fourth level of the tie breaker system to determine the winner of the Legends division. It came down to Michigan beating Ohio St. at the “shoe” on the last game of the year.








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