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 24, 2013

BIG TEN FOOTBALL WEEK 5


WHAT HAPPENED

The difficult part of tracking Big Ten teams is behind me now as we ease into the conference schedule with six teams taking a bye this Saturday. Five conference teams were playing at once last Saturday so some games didn’t get much of my attention. And that’s the last time I’ll have to say that this season. I still like my preseason predictions (see August 23rd post) with the exception of Illinois and Purdue. I’d now switch places with those two teams. 

THE PLAYS (0-1)
Wisconsin 41  Purdue 10   (Wisconsin -23)
I figured Purdue to score more points in this one as I predicted a 38 to 24 Badger victory. Hindsight tells me that I gave Purdue and Notre Dame too much credit last week when the Boilermakers hung with the Irish, losing by only seven and putting 24 points on the board, their highest total all year. I figured since it takes time with a new HC, that the Boilermakers may have turned a corner in that game. Consequently I ignored Purdue’s poor offensive performance in their first two games of the season. It’s becoming apparent though, that despite preseason accolades, Notre Dame’s defense isn’t upper echelon right now. Not if Purdue can find so much success ‘cuz the Boilermakers aren’t very good offensively. At least they weren’t last Saturday. QB Rob Henry wasn’t all that effective as he misfired on several passes. If he doesn’t improve quickly and Purdue continues to lose, I suspect he’ll be getting the hook if the Boilermakers have a future prospect waiting in the wings. Defensively Purdue was no match for Wisconsin’s bruising ground game, which seems to be in traditional Wisconsin form. Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon is better than I thought, and I already thought he was pretty good. Badgers QB Joel Stave is struggling a bit with his throws though, and that could be a problem for Wisconsin this Saturday as they visit Ohio St. 

THE NON-PLAYS
Notre Dame 17  Michigan St. 13   (Notre Dame -4.5)
I predicted Notre Dame to win, 20 to 13, so pretty accurate in this one. Even matchup on both sides of the ball. Notre Dame’s surprisingly not so great defense versus Michigan St.’s anemic offense, and Michigan St.’s great defense against the Irish’s capable offense. There were about as many flags as you’d see in a Fourth of July parade in this one. Many of them costly pass interference calls against the Spartan’s secondary as Notre Dame continually threw deep passes against single coverage. I think pass interference is called way too tight in college football, and there’s no way for me to tell from the couch, but I believe Irish HC Brian Kelly intentionally used that fact in his strategy. Kudos to him if he did. The Irish offense needed all the help it could get ‘cuz QB Tommy Rees played his worst game of the season as he overthrew several passes. And Notre Dame has yet to find a running game. This was a nice win for Notre Dame, but right now, I don’t think they’re good enough to be in the top 25. Michigan St. came into the game with a suspect offense, so their inability to put many points on the board comes as no surprise. And apparently the QB issue isn’t settled as Spartan HC Mark Dantonio inserted former starter turned backup Andrew Maxwell into the game for the Spartan’s final drive. From the couch I found that to be curious timing, but what do I know when compared to a college HC.
Michigan 24  Connecticut 21   (Michigan -20)
My prediction: Michigan, 34 to 14. Like most everyone, I figured Michigan to bounce back from last week’s subpar performance and rout the Huskies. Connecticut did, after all, open the season with a home loss to a FCS team. But they went toe to toe with the 15th ranked Wolverines and came within three points of pulling off the upset. Michigan’s problems begin with QB Devin Gardner who, like last week, played poorly as he turned the ball over three times. And several of his passes were simply off the mark. In fact, Gardner has had only one good passing game this season, in a high profile victory against Notre Dame. A game that had me and many others convinced that Michigan would be a force to be reckoned with this season. But now I’m not so sure we can keep blaming the Wolverines’ less than dominant performances entirely on coming out flat and uninspired. Now that we’re four weeks into the season it becomes easier to connect the dots and say that neither Michigan or Notre Dame should be considered among the contenders of the country. It’s still early and they both have talent and good coaching, so that could change. But for now, I’m just sayin’...
Stanford 42  Arizona St. 28   (Stanford -7)
I predicted Stanford to win, 31 to 24. I figured Arizona St. has a not great, but decent defense that could hang with what I thought was a mediocre Stanford offense. I also figured Arizona St. to have an offense that was capable of putting up a fair amount of points against a good Stanford defense. As it turned out, Stanford’s offense was better than I assumed. The final score made my prediction look good enough, but the truth is, Stanford annihilated the Sun Devils. Cardinal QB Kevin Hogan looked sharp throwing two touchdown passes and the defense stifled Arizona St. throughout most of the game. The game was already decided going into the fourth quarter with Stanford leading 39 to 7 when Arizona St. added three touchdowns in mop up time. 

THE CONFERENCE
Minnesota 43  San Jose St 24   (Minnesota -3.5)
The Gophers continue to win the games they’re supposed to and now enter conference play undefeated. Starting QB Phillip Nelson didn’t play due to an injury suffered the week prior and was replaced by backup QB Mitch Leidner. There really isn’t much drop-off at the position, though. In fact, Leidner is almost a clone of Nelson as he shares the same attributes, strong runner but needs to improve as a passer. San Jose St. challenged the Gophers offensively, but was simply outsized on the defensive side of the ball. Minnesota ran over the Spartans as they piled up 353 rushing yards. Despite the perfect record, I’m still not entirely sold on Minnesota. Although the non-conference schedule consisted of teams that in recent years may have given the Gophers trouble, none of the teams are Big Ten caliber. Even though Minnesota came up with two interceptions in this game, I still think the secondary and defensive team speed will be an issue for this team. We’ll find out soon enough.
Iowa 59  Western Michigan 3   (Iowa -16)
Iowa made some big strides considering just a couple of weeks ago the Hawkeyes struggled against a non-FBS opponent. This was the best game Iowa has played since, well, last season’s game against Minnesota. Which, incidentally, is the next game on the slate. Aside from mentioning that Hawkeye starting QB Jake Ruddock is showing significant growth as a QB, there isn’t much else to say that the score doesn’t already say.
Missouri 45  Indiana 28   (Missouri -3)
OK. Now I get to retract last week’s retraction which brings us back to “I told you so”. The Hoosiers are who I thought they were. A Big Ten bottom dweller that has little chance of beating a team like Missouri. The Hoosiers scored their usual “garbage time” touchdowns to make the offensive numbers look respectable, but the fact is, Indiana was no match on either side of the ball. So much for the preseason high hopes ‘cuz right now I see this team’s season ending with their last conference game.
Penn St. 34  Kent St 0   (Penn St -22)
There were several Big Ten teams playing in the afternoon slot so with the Nittany Lions in control of a MAC team, I didn’t give this game as much attention as a few others. I did notice that Penn St. QB Christian Hackenberg was struggling a bit, but it didn’t matter as the Lions were obviously better from a physical standpoint. They also seemed to play with some of the enthusiasm we saw last season. I think with the young QB this team will be hard to figure out during conference play. Capable of beating anybody, but wouldn’t surprise me to see them lose to an underdog.
Northwestern 35  Maine 21   (NL)
This game took a back seat in my viewing schedule to other Big Ten games being played at the same time. Specifically, games involving FBS opponents. Consequently I saw close to none of this game. By all accounts Northwestern was, like last week, a little sluggish. But they were heading into a bye week and the opponent was Maine. So can you blame them?
Nebraska 59  South Dakota St. 20   (NL)
The timing couldn’t have been better for the ‘Huskers to play a non-FBS opponent and put last week’s troubles behind them. But, like the Northwestern game, I didn’t see much of this one either for the same reasons. I did notice in the recaps that Nebraska’s defense is still struggling as SDS scored on its first three possessions. Starting QB Taylor Martinez didn’t play due to an injury. Nebraska has a bye this Saturday so right now, I’m not finding much on his status but it sounds like he’ll be ready for the conference opener. Btw, I can’t speak as a die-hard Nebraska fan, but it seems to me if I could I wouldn’t be all that offended by the undercover recording of HC Bo Pelini’s comments that were tastelessly released last week. Not near as much, anyway, as I would be offended by the ‘Huskers getting out second-halfed by UCLA for the second time in a row.
Ohio St. 76  Florida A&M 0   (NL)
This was one of three morning Big Ten games, so by default, this game was on my third TV.  But I only occasionally glanced at the score and a few plays in this one. Ohio St. should be charged with a crime for charging admission to this game. And they should be charged with a loss for scheduling it. A bye week would have been more challenging. I hate these non-FBS games and am glad we’re past ‘em for the season. I’m not sure if I read it somewhere or was just dreaming, but I believe the Big Ten is going to stop scheduling them in the near future. 

 

CRYSTAL BALL 

WEEK OF 9-28-2013 

OHIO ST
30
WISCONSIN
27
ILLINOIS
35
MIAMI, OHIO
10
OKLAHOMA
24
NOTRE DAME
21
IOWA
34
MINNESOTA
17
ARIZONA ST
24
USC
24
OT

 

  ATS
 

FTC DOLLARS
In this section I track the results of my Crystal Ball selections that qualify as “plays” ATS (any prediction that differs from the closing line by seven or more points). 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 considered 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 four games this week while my competition looked at seven. The closing lines are posted above in the “What Happened” section of this post.

I’m off to my worst start ever with yet another loss dropping me to 0-4 for the season. Purdue; I can’t win with ‘em, can’t win without ‘em. For the most part, my competition is struggling as well. Wildcat saved me from the bottom of the list as he lost three games this week with Kent St., Purdue, and Indiana. Horned Frog remains the only one ahead in FTC dollars as he won one game with Wisconsin. Boilermaker moved to second place simply by holding serve as he split with Wisconsin his winner, Kent St. his loser. Wolverine (a.k.a. Chad Godfrey from isportsweb.com) dropped from second place by going 1-3 with Penn St. his winner, Western Michigan, Purdue, and Michigan his loser. And Cardinal sits in fourth as he went 1-2, winning with Iowa and losing with San Jose St. and Michigan.

 

ATS  PLAY STANDINGS
LAST SATURDAY
 
TOTAL
FTC $
W
L
T
 
W
L
T
 
 
HORNED FROG (btn)
1
0
0
 
4
2
0
 
$90
BOILERMAKER (btn)
1
1
0
 
4
5
0
 
-$75
WOLVERINE (isportsweb)
1
3
0
 
5
7
0
 
-$135
CARDINAL (espn)
1
2
0
 
2
5
0
 
-$175
FROM THE COUCH
0
1
0
 
0
4
0
 
-$220
WILDCAT (espn)
0
3
0
 
1
5
0
 
-$225

 

 

 STATS

Check out the “ATS stats ‘13” tab at the top of the page and you’ll see that, other than Horned Frog in the “play” category and Wolverine in the “spread record” category, most of the contestants didn’t help their cause this week. It’s a bit ironic that I sit at the top of the list in the “within 7” category with an above average 50%, yet I’m currently in last place in all other categories.

 

FURTHER REVIEW

This is an excerpt from an article I posted last season (11-6-12). I saw a couple of plays last Saturday that compelled me to reiterate. 

With the addition of more rules aimed at player safety, the game has been placed in the hands of the officials more now than ever before. The problem is that many penalties are judgment calls that can have a significant impact on the outcome of the game. Too often these type of penalties go uncalled throughout the game yet tend to get noticed by the officials on crucial third or fourth down plays, thus bailing the offense out and extending the drive. I would like to see some of these penalties adjusted in order to take some of the judgment out of the call. The following are some game changing penalties that carry an automatic first down and my “From the Couch” adjustment.
Pass interference-
The rule is being called too tight. Despite efforts to try to curtail it, football is still a contact sport. The cornerback is expected to come up in run support and take on 250 lb fullbacks and on the next play try to make sure he doesn’t graze against a wide receiver's shirtsleeve during a pass.
Adjustment: The defender should be allowed to make contact with his body (no hands) while the ball is in the air if he is between the quarterback and the receiver. This will require the quarterback to throw a good pass. Too many times we see the quarterback underthrow the ball yet still be rewarded as the receiver stops and the defender’s momentum runs him into the receiver. This will also hinder the “fade” pattern that is often used near the goal line- the receiver will have to get open as opposed to just being tall.
The out of bounds hit-
The defender runs all the way across the field and hits the ball carrier as he heads toward the sidelined and is flagged, especially if the ball carrier is a quarterback. Adjustment: A one to two yard zone marked on the out of bounds side of the sideline that is considered fair game for contact. This leaves no doubt in the defender’s mind as to the runner’s intention of getting out of bounds and takes the judgment out of the official’s hands.
Facemask-
Most of the time the facemask is grabbed unintentionally. It’s an old rule and actually a good one. Obviously it’s unsafe to have defenders yanking on the facemask.
Adjustment: Make the facemask less of a handle. I don’t know if they impair vision in the rain, but I notice some players wear a shield over their eyes (between the top of the facemask to the top of the helmet). I’m also seeing facemasks that are larger and have a tighter grill pattern. I think both types would be less likely to be grabbed by a defender. In other words, a new design that doesn’t fit the hand so easily.
High hit-
Seriously, I missed this one. I don’t know when it became a rule, but I’m seeing it called often. It’s not the same as helmet to helmet, so apparently the “strike zone” for making a tackle has shrunk even further (eventually paint a small “bulls- eye” between the numbers?). What the rule has become, unfortunately, is a penalty for good old fashioned football. Any type of block or tackle that “lights up” the other player draws a flag. You know, the type of hit that used to make highlight reels, the type of hit that many fans watch football for.
Adjustment: Get rid of the rule.
Helmet to Helmet-
I understand the intention, but it’s not realistic to expect a tackler to never make contact with a ball carrier’s helmet. And everyone knows it. It’s just that no one wants to face the solution.
Adjustment: The game has gotten too physical. Players are bigger, stronger and faster than ever before. Retired NFL players are finding that the physicality of the game has had some serious effects on their bodies. Kids are getting paralyzed.
Our love of the game of football and what we think it should be keeps us from admitting the obvious. Someone has to step up and say “the emperor has no clothes”- it’s time to stop playing tackle. It seems absurd now, but eventually, probably many decades from now, this will become a reality. The new rules are already taking us in that direction.
In the meantime, unless we’re willing to accept the dangers that come with the sport and have players sign a waiver, this rule will probably need to stay in place.
 

No comments:

Post a Comment