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.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Ohio St won the “banned” bowl and Nebraska tightened the race in the Legends Division. It is said that October is for pretenders and November is for contenders. November is also for chameleons. College football teams always display some inconsistencies in their weekly performances. Never more so than in November, particularly among teams that have fallen out of the title race. Some teams completely self-destruct as goals are shattered and the coach’s job security becomes part of local discussions. But just about when you think the team has cashed in for the season, it rallies one last time and turns in an upset win. The contenders become vulnerable as they tend to look past these teams. If history is any indicator, this should be an interesting stretch run.
Indiana 31  Illinois 17
No real surprises here as I predicted a 34 to 28 Indiana victory. Illinois has enough to beat the Hoosiers but continually shot themselves in the foot with untimely penalties and turnovers. I don’t know if it’s fair to blame the coaching staff-gotta be smarter than the football and many times Illini players were not-but good teams just don’t do that.
Northwestern 28  Iowa 17
I predicted a 29 to 24 Northwestern victory, so not too far off on the score. The game, however, played out differently than I envisioned. Northwestern took control of this game early and was really never threatened by the Hawkeyes. There may have been a little anxiety among Wildcat fans (given Northwestern’s history of blowing leads in the fourth quarter) as Iowa began to cut into a 28 to 3 deficit with seconds left in the third. But too little, too late for the Hawkeyes who, although saddled with injuries, appeared to be uninspired for this game.
Michigan St 16  Wisconsin 13  OT
This is my first time blogging, not my first time predicting Big Ten scores. I learned long ago to stick with the score I come up after thinking it through on Sunday. When I posted my 10 to 10 overtime prediction a couple of days later I had my doubts as the score seemed awful low. But my reasoning came back to me as I watched the game. Michigan St’s solid defense and porous O-line kept the scoring consistent with most of the Spartan’s games. It is now three games in a row that Michigan St’s offense failed to produce more than one touchdown in regulation. Wisconsin’s cause was hindered as starting QB Joel Stave left with an injury at the start of the second half. And the Michigan St D-line served notice to anyone who thought otherwise, that the Wisconsin O-line, despite showing recent improvement against weaker defenses, didn’t just miraculously turn into the Badger line of recent years.
Minnesota 44  Purdue 28
I’ve been one step behind Purdue all season as I predicted them to win 31 to 24. Last week’s overtime loss to conference best Ohio St could have ignited the Boilermakers, or it could have deflated them. I figured the former since they turned in such a good defensive performance against the Buckeyes. My bad. Purdue completely tanked this one after scoring a touchdown on their first possession (for the third consecutive week) and jumping out to a 7 to 0 lead. Minnesota scored the next 44 points and this one was over before halftime. Minnesota was led by Freshman QB Phillip Nelson, who began the season as a red-shirt. I thought Gopher HC Jerry Kill was giving up on this season and working on the next by moving starting QB Marquis Gray to wideout and inserting Nelson in his spot. I still think that’s true to some extent, but this kid’s the real deal. Not sure if he’ll be enough to help Minnesota beat anybody but Illinois on the remainder of the Gopher’s schedule, but he does appear to improve this team.
Ohio St 35  Penn St 23
My prediction was 30 to 22 Penn St. I was sure Penn St was going to win and I’d be writing my “I told you sos” here. Turns out, even if Penn St had won, “I told you so” wouldn’t have been in order as many analysts also picked the Nittany Lions (everybody in the ATS section). I have to give credit to Ohio St HC Urban Meyer as he had his kids well prepared with an effective defensive game plan. The Buckeyes defense turned in their best performance of the year as Penn St had very little to counter the blitz packages that were being thrown at them. I can’t say the outcome would have been different, but some questionable officiating did hurt the Lions chances. And that’s too bad in a game like this. I think even Buckeyes fans would agree with such a comment concerning a strange holding call (in the middle of the line?) against Penn St during an Ohio St punt. The penalty extended the Buckeyes drive and led to a touchdown that tied the game at 7 just before the half. Midway through the third quarter, Ohio St QB Braxton Miller turned in a slick one yard touchdown run on third down to make the score 21 to 10. But again, Penn St. linebacker Michael Mauti was obviously held (in plain view), no call. In the end the constant blitzing got to Penn St QB Matt McGloin and he became rattled and ineffective. Ohio St and QB Braxton Miller firmly claimed the top position in this conference.
Nebraska 23  Michigan 9
I predicted Michigan to win, 31 to 29. This game was over when Michigan QB Denard Robinson went down with an injury late in the first half. I’m not implying Michigan would have won- the Nebraska defense was containing him quite well up to that point- but without Robinson they had no chance. Freshman backup QB Russell Bellamy got thrown into the fire and was completely overwhelmed. I thought Nebraska’s defense showed improvement last week and would say they’ve taken another step forward in this game. Probably their best performance of the season, but hard to say against Michigan’s young QB.

 -Ohio St turning in a defensive performance that far exceeds any they have turned in this year, particularly from a tackling standpoint.
 -Purdue giving up at Minnesota after last week’s strong performance. 



WEEK OF 11-3-2012 




The Defense Rests
In the week leading up to the Notre Dame-Oklahoma game, I found and heard several comments concerning Notre Dame’s chances of stopping the Sooners’ high powered offense. Not to pick on one analyst, but Danny Flynn’s ( comment serves as a good example:
Notre Dame’s defense has been one of the most impressive units in college football so far this season. However, the Irish have yet to face an offense like the one Oklahoma has.
Shutting down overrated Big Ten teams is nice and all, but shutting down Landry Jones, Damien Williams, Kenny Stills and the rest of the Sooners offense on the road is a whole different story.”
I figured the game to be evenly matched but Oklahoma went into the game favored by close to two touchdowns.
What it is with college football fans’ blind worship of offensive statistics? Where was this comment?< Oklahoma’s offense has been one of the most impressive in college football, but they’ve yet to face a defense like the one Notre Dame has. Running up the score on Big Twelve teams is nice and all, but putting up numbers against Monti Te’o, Stephon Tuitt, and the rest of the Irish defense is a whole different story.> I Couldn’t find anything to that effect anywhere.
It wouldn’t be a big deal except that this kind of offensive bias permeates the polls and the post season awards. Once again this season’s Heisman Trophy candidates feature two Big Twelve quarterbacks. They’re both good quarterbacks, but how many 70 to 63 final scores do we have to see to realize that poor defense might be a contributor to some of the gaudy offensive statistics that are being put up? The Harris poll and the USA Today poll both have Oregon ranked second, ahead of both Notre Dame and Kansas St. Oregon may very well be the better team, but what have they done on the field to earn a higher ranking? So they hung 70 points on Colorado (BCS worst scoring defense). BFD.
Personally I’d prefer to see a defensive slugfest than a 70 to 63 shootout. Sure the quarterback threw six touchdown passes; may as well add to his stats the five he threw in Thursday’s practice while going through dry run drills. It’s like watching the same thing.
Offense is what sells and that’s fair enough, but let’s not forget to give a little consideration to the defense.


My Crystal Ball predictions for last Saturday weren’t so good as I didn’t come in above 50% in any category. The spreads were as follows: Illinois by 2, Northwestern by 5.5, Nebraska by 1.5, Wisconsin by 5.5, Purdue by 3, Ohio St by 1. If you click the “ATS” tab at the top of this page you will see that I wasn’t the only one who turned in a sub-par performance. Cardinal did well in the “spread” and “closest” categories and he now sits at the top in the season standings for both. My 1-1 record in the all-important “play” category turned out to be the best this week, with the exception of Wildcat, who once again did not have a qualifying selection. I won with Indiana, lost with Penn St. Although it doesn’t count in the standings (not a Big Ten game), my Notre Dame selection was a winner in the “play” category as well. Boilermaker took the biggest hit at 0-3 as he lost with Iowa, Wisconsin, and Penn St. Hawkeye was 0-2 with Michigan and Purdue. Horned Frog and Cardinal were both 0-1. Horned Frog lost with Purdue, Cardinal with Penn St. Wolverine, who has allowed me to use his name- Chad Godfrey- was 1-2 with Indiana his winner, Michigan and Penn St his losers. You can find Chad at He usually posts his selections (with details) between late Wednesday and early Friday. His 54% number for the season in the “within 7” category is phenomenal. This category is actually independent of the spread and you could argue that it’s the most useful in determining forecasting talent. You may notice that Boilermaker and Hawkeye total 5 games in this week’s spread record. Boilermaker’s number matched the 3 point spread in the Purdue game and Hawkeye did not make a selection in the Illinois-Indiana game.
I seem to be coming up with more overtime games than usual (two this week) this season. Some may consider it a cop-out to predict a tie. I don’t want to force a score as I want to maintain some integrity in the “play” category of my ATS picks. And as for picking a winner in overtime; I believe that’s the equivalent of flipping a coin. 



This week’s rankings (see the tab at the top of this page) place Notre Dame on top with their road victory over 4-2 Oklahoma. Last week’s top two teams, Florida and Oregon St both lost and fell to #4 and #7 respectively. LSU and Nebraska moved into the top ten, replacing Texas A&M and Oklahoma. Texas A&M won but dropped slightly (# 11) as they lost some ground in the OPP% category due in large part to adding 1-7 Auburn to their list of opponents. The KIS rankings show four teams that did not place in the top ten of the BCS standings (including Ohio St, who is ineligible for the BCS). Notice that the discrepancies between the two rankings aren’t as severe when the biased human polls portion of the BCS standings are eliminated, leaving the computer portion for comparison.                          

Oregon St
Texas Tech
Florida St


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