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.

Friday, August 23, 2013

BIG TEN FOOTBALL PRESEASON-1


WHAT HAPPENED

I’m back. I’ve decided to give FROM THE COUCH another go. As I mentioned at the end of last season, I enjoyed writing this blog but found it to be too time consuming. And due to some current circumstances in my life, I may not be able to post weekly or may be forced to abruptly discontinue altogether. But for now my intention is to cover another season with some time saving adjustments:
 
The KIS rankings will be discontinued for this season. I’m still intrigued, but my method for computing the rankings isn’t efficient enough. Too many manual entries. If I ever do continue the rankings, I would include adjustments to the categories I mentioned in the last two paragraphs of my final post last season (Jan 11 in the blog archive list). I’ve left the “KIS” tab at the top of the blog for reference to archived posts from last season.
 
The “What Happened” (game recap) section will remain as a weekly feature but the commentary/editorial section will be sporadic.
 
Rather than write a new article or paragraph to articulate what is basically the same content, I may recycle portions of last season’s posts where applicable.
 
The theme will be more focused on the Crystal Ball and ATS portion of the blog. 

 

CRYSTALL 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 account for all of the variables (letdowns, injuries, suspensions, scandal, etc..) that can potentially affect a team’s performance over the course of a season. But, what else can be talked about 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 among the listed publications (consensus), and finally this year’s FROM THE COUCH predictions. 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.
 

2012  
 

ATHLON SPORTS
LINDY'S SPORTS
USA TODAY
FROM THE COUCH
ACTUAL
LEADERS
LEADERS
LEADERS
LEADERS
LEADERS
1
Ohio St.
1
Ohio St.
1
Ohio St.
1
Ohio St.
1
Ohio St.
2
Wisconsin
2
Wisconsin
2
Wisconsin
2
Wisconsin
2
Penn St.
3
Penn St.
3
Penn St.
3
Penn St.
3
Purdue
3
Wisconsin
4
Illinois
4
Purdue
4
Illinois
4
Illinois
4
Purdue
5
Purdue
5
Illinois
5
Purdue
5
Penn St.
5
Indiana
6
Indiana
6
Indiana
6
Indiana
6
Indiana
6
Illinois
LEGENDS
LEGENDS
LEGENDS
LEGENDS
LEGENDS
1
Michigan 
1
Michigan 
1
Michigan 
1
Michigan 
1
Nebraska
2
Nebraska
2
Michigan St.
2
Nebraska
2
Michigan St.
2
Michigan 
3
Michigan St.
3
Nebraska
3
Michigan St.
3
Nebraska
3
Northwestern
4
Northwestern
4
Iowa
4
Iowa
4
Northwestern
4
Michigan St.
5
Iowa
5
Northwestern
5
Northwestern
5
Iowa
5
Iowa
6
Minnesota
6
Minnesota
6
Minnesota
6
Minnesota
6
Minnesota

 
2013 
 

ATHLON SPORTS
LINDY'S SPORTS
USA TODAY
CONSENSUS
LEADERS
LEADERS
LEADERS
LEADERS
1
Ohio St.
1
Ohio St.
1
Ohio St.
1
Ohio St.
2
Wisconsin
2
Wisconsin
2
Wisconsin
2
Wisconsin
3
Penn St.
3
Penn St.
3
Penn St.
3
Penn St.
4
Indiana
4
Indiana
4
Indiana
4
Indiana
5
Purdue
5
Purdue
5
Purdue
5
Purdue
6
Illinois
6
Illinois
6
Illinois
6
Illinois
LEGENDS
LEGENDS
LEGENDS
LEGENDS
1
Michigan 
1
Michigan 
1
Nebraska
1
Michigan 
2
Nebraska
2
Michigan St.
2
Michigan 
2
Nebraska
3
Northwestern
3
Nebraska
3
Northwestern
3
Northwestern
4
Michigan St.
4
Northwestern
4
Michigan St.
4
Michigan St.
5
Minnesota
5
Iowa
5
Iowa
5
Iowa
6
Iowa
6
Minnesota
6
Minnesota
6
Minnesota

 

FROM THE COUCH PREDICTIONS
 
Leaders
 
OHIO ST. (7-1), (11-1) - Just by the law of averages I don’t think the Buckeyes will go undefeated for a second consecutive year. But looking at their schedule, it’s hard to find a spot where they might stumble. The non-conference portion is once again weak and they don’t play Legends division contenders Michigan St. and Nebraska. A trip out west rarely turns out good for a Big Ten team, but the Buckeyes catch a break in their early season game at Cal as the Bears are breaking in a new coach and QB. Northwestern is often taken lightly and can sometimes outsmart and out-finesse better teams, but the Buckeyes talent level may be too much for the Cats to overcome and I suspect HC Urban Meyer probably has this game circled. Wisconsin and Penn St are home games and again the opposition is inexperience at either the coach or QB position. That leaves only major upsets and a trip to Michigan. Never can rule out an upset in college football but can’t be too arbitrary when making predictions. So I’m going to say the Buckeyes will lose the finale at Michigan but still qualify for the Big Ten Championship game.
 
WISCONSIN (5-3), (8-4) – A new coach, an inexperienced QB and last year’s sub-par performance make me believe the Badgers won’t be as powerful as in recent years. But a favorable conference schedule will contribute enough to building a record that’s good for second place in the division.
 
PENN ST. (5-3), (9-3) - With the departure of team leaders Matt McGloin, Michael Mauti, and Gerald Hodges, the question becomes can the Nittany Lions maintain the intensity that carried them beyond last season’s expectations.  Especially now that the turmoil that became the improbable source of motivation is no longer fresh. But HC Bill O’Brien did such an impressive job in his first season I’m convinced he’s capable of keeping this team among the upper echelon in the conference.

PURDUE (3-5), (5-7) - While I don’t think this will be a great or even good Purdue team, I don’t think they’ll be as bad as many project. Last season’s meltdown left a bad vision in everyone’s mind. And although I know little about new HC Darrell Hazell, he comes highly regarded and a new HC appears to be what this program needs to get things moving in the right direction.
 
INDIANA (2-6), (3-9) - By all accounts, expectations are high for this season’s Hoosier team. But I don’t see it. Sure, last season’s four wins would indicate improvement over the previous season’s one win campaign-HC Kevin Wilson’s first. But those victories came against teams among the worst if not THE worst in the country. And there were still a couple of blowout losses, and losses to a subpar Navy team, a Purdue team that had packed it in weeks before, and a home game against Ball St. And while many like to point to the three point loss to undefeated Ohio St. as an indicator to how close the Hoosier’s are, anyone who saw the game knows that the close score was the result of “garbage” points Indiana scored at the end of the game as the Buckeyes were packing for the bus ride back to the hotel. Most of the starters return, but I’m not so sure that means big things for the Hoosiers.
 
ILLINOIS (0-8), (2-10) - The good news is it can’t possibly be worse than last season. At this point any projections of improvement can only be speculative. 

Legends
 
NORTHWESTERN (6-2), (10-2) - That’s right. Northwestern. I’m out on a limb with this one as I see the Cats winning the tie breaker in a tight race for the Legends division title. And why not, aside from a tougher schedule and a history of regressing after a successful  season? Most of the starters return from last season’s ten win team that went toe-to-toe with the big boys of the league. And Pat Fitzgerald continues to grow as a head coach.
 
MICHIGAN ST. (6-2), (9-3) - Still hanging out on that limb as I pick the Spartans to tie for first in the division. The schedule helps as Michigan St. doesn’t face the only three real contenders from the Leaders division. I like HC Mark Dantonio and believe incumbent QB Andrew Maxwell and the Spartans were the victims of bad luck on several occasions during last season’s sub-par performance. I mean it has to be at least a bit of an anomaly for players that were recruited as big time college receivers to drop so many passes in crucial situations, right?
 
MICHIGAN (5-3), (8-4) - Many see Michigan as the favorite to win the Legends division but with only four starters returning on both sides of the ball I’m forecasting a tie for third place. The Wolverines always have talent so I don’t see much of a drop off from last season’s campaign. Just don’t see much improvement, either.
 
NEBRASKA (5-3), (9-3) – The Cornhuskers have seven starters returning to one of the better offenses in the conference. But it’s been the defense that’s been the problem lately, and only four return to that unit. I see Nebraska riding the victory train until November. At that point that the schedule gets tough and the train gets derailed.
 
IOWA (2-6), (6-6) - The Hawkeyes are now far removed from the days when they were considered an upper echelon team in the conference. And HC Kirk Ferentz has been sitting on the “warm seat” for so long now he no longer needs to turn on his car seat heaters during cold Iowa winters. I don’t believe coaches lose their touch until maybe late in life, so I think dumping Ferentz would be a mistake. Ferentz coached Iowa teams have bounced back from disappointing seasons in the past, so I’m hesitant to discount the Hawkeyes. But the conference schedule is among the toughest and there’s really nothing solid to support an immediate return to the top portion of the conference.
 
MINNESOTA (2-6), (6-6) – Like many successful head coaches, Jerry Kill has a track record of turning unsuccessful programs around in his third season. I think Minnesota will improve and maybe steal a game as an underdog. But I think any improvement will only be evident on the field. On paper the win and loss columns will look exactly the same as last year.

 

 

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