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, September 10, 2013

BIG TEN FOOTBALL WEEK 3


WHAT HAPPENED 

The Big Ten went 11-1 over the weekend as all but two teams were double-digit favorites. With two games in the books now we get a clearer picture of where teams are at after the proverbial “most improvement occurs between week one and week two” segment of the season.
Whose stock is up?  Illinois, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Michigan
Whose stock is down? Iowa, Michigan St., Indiana, Purdue
 
THE PLAYS (0-2)
Michigan 41  Notre Dame 30   (Michigan -4.5)
I predicted a 23 to 17 Notre Dame victory. I figured Notre Dame QB Tommy Rees to play better than most expected and, for the most part, he did. I didn’t foresee Michigan QB Devin Gardner playing as well as he did, however. Nor did I expect the Michigan coaching staff to be so adept with their play calling. The Wolverines offense had an answer for most everything the highly touted Notre Dame defense threw at them, which was mostly a variety of blitzes. And if you’re gonna blitz a good team, you’d better get there. Notre Dame didn’t get there often enough as the Wolverines protection was nearly flawless in picking up the extra pass rushers. Gardner consistently read what was coming at him and calmly threw strikes to receivers that were enjoying single coverage. And if he couldn’t find a receiver, he used his legs to make the Irish pay. Also have to credit the Michigan coaching staff for calling several plays that made the Irish pay for their aggressiveness. I think this is Michigan HC Brady Hoke’s biggest win and his best work on gameday since his arrival at Michigan. Now that he no longer has to compromise his offense to suit former QB Denard Robinson, I can see that this year’s Michigan team is going to be a force to be reckoned with. Notre Dame didn’t play bad, although I did expect a little more out of their running game, particularly from RB George Atkinson III. And Irish fans can certainly point to a questionable pass interference call that negated a crucial Notre Dame interception. But the truth is, Michigan was better in this game. Two good teams who I anticipate will have a successful season. Great game.
Illinois 45  Cincinnati 17   (Cincinnati -8-5)
I’ve been wrong before and I’ll be wrong again, but I don’t know if I’ve ever been so far off the mark as I was in this game as I predicted the Bearcats to blow out the Illini, 41 to 10. It wasn’t that I thought Cincinnati was a great team, but rather that Illinois was a bad team. And last season, they were. I discounted the improvement displayed by Illinois in week 1 due to the non-FBS opponent. Obviously that was a mistake as the Illinois offense had their way with a surprisingly outmatched Cincinnati defense. I’ve always said the Illini’s Nathan Scheelhaase is a good QB and a winner, but I didn’t think he’d have enough help around him to show it. He certainly showed it on Saturday as he completed his first ten passes and finished with over 300 yards through the air. I did expect more out of Cincinnati, though, given week one’s drubbing of Purdue. But after seeing that the Boilermakers struggled with a non-FBS opponent last Saturday, it now makes sense that Cincy isn’t as strong as I thought. Great win for the Illini, nonetheless, as they looked vastly improved in all facets of the game. Still some false starts on offense that need to be cleaned up, but I could see the much needed confidence grow in this team as the game went on. And I don’t really like it when assistant coaches steal the headlines from the HC, but new OC Bill Cubit appears to have made quite an impact on the Illinois offense. But all the credit should go to HC Tim Beckman and it was nice to see him get to celebrate a victory. I’m one of many who’ve been critical but I’ve also pointed out that I’d like to see him succeed. I’m certainly not ready to call the Illini a contender for any titles yet, but if Saturday’s  game is an indication, they are already much better than I thought they would ever be this season.
 
THE NON-PLAYS
Ohio St. 42  San Diego St. 7  (Ohio St. -28)
I wasn’t too far off in this one as I predicted Ohio St. to win, 38 to 10. Buckeye’s star QB Braxton Miller left the game early with a knee injury but it didn’t matter as the Buckeyes are navigating their way through their usual weak non-conference schedule. San Diego St., who was pounded by a non-FBS opponent a week earlier, started off poorly as their starting QB Adam Dingwell missed badly on several throws. So, given the competition thus far into the season, it’s hard to get a good read on how good the Buckeyes are and if they will be able to live up to the preseason hype. This week’s game at California should be a better barometer. Miller’s replacement, Kenny Guiton, has proven to be capable in the past and I saw nothing Saturday to think otherwise. In fact, he may even be a better passer. He’ll most likely face his biggest test to date this Saturday.
 
THE CONFERENCE
Navy 41  Indiana 35   (Indiana -12.5)
This is one of those times when get to say I told you so. This game was not on my “Crystal Ball” schedule so I did not predict a score. But as my preseason posts claim, Indiana ain’t all that. Indiana by over twelve points? C’mon,.. based on what? Running up the score on a non-FBS opponent? This is the same Indiana we’ve seen for the last several years; an offense that is capable of scoring on anybody and a defense that anybody is capable of scoring on. Navy blew the Hoosiers off the line and ran the ball downfield at will. The Midshipmen were already up 17 to 7 before they burned the Hoosiers with their first pass to set up another touchdown with around six minutes left in the half. And even though Indiana finally closed the gap to within seven late in the game, the offense wasn’t quite as shiny as the week before.
Northwestern 48  Syracuse 27   (Northwestern -16)
Wow. Now that’s a two-headed monster. I’ve said that Northwestern backup QB Trevor Siemian should start while current starter Kain Colter plays all-purpose back due to Colter’s athleticism and Siemian’s superiority as a passer. It turns out, Colter is not far behind Siemian as a passer if last Saturday’s game is an indication. Both QB’s completed 11 of 12 passes in the first half as the Wildcats jumped out to a 34 to 7 lead. It appears as though Colter has improved his passing game during the offseason while maintaining his capabilities as a runner as he shredded Syracuse both through the air and on the ground. And Siemian picked up where he left off last week, completing 15 of 19 passes for a team best 259 yards. These guys are the show on offense and it appears as though the Northwestern defense will be at least as good if not better than last season’s ten win club.
Penn St. 45  Eastern Michigan 7   (Penn St. -26)
Penn St. finally pulled away to win by a big margin, but they started off a little shaky. Freshman QB Christian Hackenberg missed badly on some of his early throws and he lost a fumble in the first quarter that Eastern Michigan returned for a touchdown to take a 7 to 0 lead. And from the couch it appeared as though the Penn St. line wasn’t as dominant as expected and the defense was lacking the intensity that last season’s team displayed. In fact, it took a Sam Ficken field goal  with seconds left in the half for the Nittany Lions to build a cushion greater than a touchdown (17 to 7) against the MAC bottom dwelling Eagles. But eventually Hackenberg settled down and I guess it should be considered he’s just a freshman playing his first game at Beaver Stadium. And unlike last year’s start to the season, Penn St is beating the teams they’re supposed to by an acceptable margin. But still, something makes me think this team is not yet on the level of some of the others in the conference.
Nebraska 56  Southern Miss 13   (Nebraska -28)
For the second week in a row, I didn’t watch as much of the Cornhuskers as I would have liked. There were much more competitive games going on at the time so this one took a back seat. Most accounts say the defense improved, but then again, it should. Southern Miss currently has the longest losing streak among FBS teams. Usually not very much you can find out about a team in a game like this anyway. Pretty sure I’ll be tuned in next week when the ‘Huskers host UCLA.
Wisconsin  48  Tennessee Tech 0   (NL)
Like last week, the Badgers put up big numbers against extremely weak competition. So it’s still difficult to say for sure, but it appears as though Wisconsin has moved past last season’s rough start and returned to championship contender form; punishing running game behind excellent line play and a steady, solid quarterback. We’ll have to wait until after the Badgers’ visit to Arizona State next week for verification, though.
Iowa 28  Missouri St. 14   (NL)
Uh-oh. This is not a good Iowa team. At least it wasn’t on Saturday. Could’ve been a let down from last week’s heartbreaking loss. Or just a matter of playing down to the competition. But either way, the Hawkeyes are gonna have to do a whole lot better in order to win another game. Missouri St. is a non-FBS opponent that hasn’t won many games recently and Iowa was only up 7 to 0 at the half. At home. Iowa QB Josh Ruddock threw a pick-six and the offensive line struggled at times to open holes for the running backs. Iowa did, however, snap a seven game losing streak but still, just sayin’, should’ve done better against this competition.
Michigan St. 21  South Florida 6   (Michigan St. -23)
This game wasn’t televised in my region so I was unable to watch. All reports indicate the same as last week; offense struggling badly, killer defense.
Minnesota 44  New Mexico St. 21   (Minnesota -16)
This game was not televised so I was unable to watch the Gophers. Most report that the Gophers ran the ball well. A couple of nice wins to start off the season for the Gophers. Not saying Minnesota is a powerhouse, but this game and last week’s are the kind of games that have given the Gophers problems in recent years.
Purdue 20  Indiana St. 14   (NL)
This game wasn’t televised in my region, either. So I’ve yet to see Purdue play. But in looking at this score I can’t help but deduce that the Boilermakers aren’t very good. I base this assumption on Purdue’s 42 to 7 loss in week one to a Cincinnati team that was pounded last Saturday by an Illinois team that hasn’t won a conference game in over a year. Couple that with Indiana St.’s beat down at the hands of an Indiana team that was steamrolled this week, and I gotta think Purdue would not be struggling in this game if they’re to be considered competitive in Big Ten play.
 

CRYSTAL BALL 

WEEK OF 9-14-2013 

OHIO ST
38
CALIFORNIA
27
MICHIGAN
49
AKRON
7
WASHINGTON
34
ILLINOIS
24
NOTRE DAME
30
PURDUE
0
WISCONSIN
21
ARIZONA ST
20

 

 ATS
 
FTC DOLLARS
In this section I track the results of my Crystal Ball selections that qualify as “plays” ATS. I’ve also included the results of some unsuspecting prognosticators that I found on line. These gentlemen (I’ve given them nicknames) predict every Big Ten game throughout the season. All predictions are included with the exception of games involving non-FBS opponents. The standings are based on how many “FTC” dollars are won. For a more detailed explanation of this section, please refer to the “FTC $ Q&A” tab at the top of this post.
 
I predicted only three games this week while my competition looked at nine. The closing lines are posted above in the “What Happened” section of this post.
 
I’m off to a rocky start in my quest for the almighty FTC dollar as I picked two losers, Cincinnati and Notre Dame. My chosen competition, who I’ve given nicknames for reasons I explained in last week’s post, didn’t fare much better. In fact, Boilermaker is the only one to come out ahead as he picked two winners, Ohio St. and Nebraska, and one loser, Syracuse. Horned Frog didn’t get hurt much as he split and only had to pay the juice. He won with Ohio St. and Navy, and lost with Michigan St. and New Mexico St. Even though Cardinal didn’t win a game, he’s sitting in third as he only had one prediction that played, Syracuse. Wolverine, a.k.a. Chad Godfrey (@isportsweb.com), submitted some bold predictions this week and consequently had seven games that played. He lost one more than he won, though, and also had to pay 20 FTC dollars in juice as he won with Illinois, Ohio St., and Minnesota, and lost with Eastern Michigan, Indiana, Syracuse, and Southern Miss. And joining me at the bottom with minus 110 FTC dollars is Wildcat, who lost two games, Michigan St. and Syracuse. 

ATS  PLAY STANDINGS
LAST SATURDAY
 
TOTAL
FTC $
W
L
T
 
W
L
T
 
 
BOILERMAKER (btn)
2
1
0
 
2
1
0
 
$45
HORNED FROG (btn)
2
2
0
 
2
2
0
 
-$10
CARDINAL (espn)
0
1
0
 
0
1
0
 
-$55
WOLVERINE (isportsweb)
3
4
0
 
3
4
0
 
-$70
FROM THE COUCH
0
2
0
 
0
2
0
 
-$110
WILDCAT (espn)
0
2
0
 
0
2
0
 
-$110

 

 STATS
If you check out the “ATS stats ‘13” tab at the top of the page, you’ll see that Boilermaker leads in three of the four categories.  But everyone else is off to a slow start, particularly in the “within 7” category.

 

GROUCH FROM THE COUCH 

IRISH CHICKEN?
I’m just as disappointed as any college football fan that the Michigan-Notre Dame series has been put on hiatus. But I’m glad we’re past this year’s game ‘cuz the whining that’s been coming out of Michigan and the Big Ten Network was getting tiresome. I’ve been an ND fan all of my life and know that the USC, Purdue, Michigan St., and Navy games have always been as traditional as Thanksgiving. And with the exception of Navy, every one of those schools has had some good teams and provided some great games. Michigan has been a regular opponent to be sure, but so has Pitt, Northwestern, Air Force, Boston College and some others. Lump the Wolverines in with that crowd. And the notion that Notre Dame is chicken is ridiculous as they’ve scheduled and continue to schedule programs like Oklahoma, Alabama, Miami, Penn St., Texas, Stanford, Tennessee, Florida St., Nebraska, Ohio St, etc., etc. I got a chuckle out of BTN when they posed the question, “Who will the ending of this series hurt more?” One only needs to listen to where all of the complaining is coming from to find the answer. 

 

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