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 1, 2013

BIG TEN FOOTBALL WEEK 6


WHAT HAPPENED

Ohio St topped Wisconsin in a game that was billed as the Leaders Division Championship. Maybe; but still a lot of football to be played. While it’s true that with Penn St. ineligible there’s virtually no threat from the remaining teams in the division, the Buckeyes still have to hold serve in crossover games against teams from the Legends division. And the game against Penn St. counts in the standings. Ohio St. should win this Saturday in Evanston, but coming off of a high profile win against Wisconsin could produce a letdown. And that’s all a good team like Northwestern would need to steal a victory. 

THE PLAYS (1-0)
Iowa 23  Minnesota 7   (Iowa -2.5)
I was a little high with the score but right there with the spread as I predicted Iowa to win, 34 to 17. As I mentioned in last week’s Minnesota game recap, I’m not buying into the Gophers simply because they went undefeated through a weak non-conference schedule. I fell for that one in last season’s game against the Hawkeye’s. But Minnesota’s perfect record did create an opportunity to take advantage of a low point spread. Like last season, the Gophers were no match for Iowa as the Hawkeyes racked up 464 total yards while holding Minnesota to 165. Minnesota relies on its running game but found out soon enough that this wasn’t San Jose St. lining up against their O-line. Consequently the Gophers were forced to pass on first down and while they had receivers open at times, starting QB Phillip Nelson was off target on several occasions. Conversely, Iowa QB Jake Rudock turned in a solid performance completing 15 of 25 passes for 218 yards.  Rudock, while still not above throwing a critical red zone interception like he did in this game, looked poised and in control. No way to tell from the couch, but judging by the amount of time he spends calling signals at the line of scrimmage, it appears the Hawkeye coaching staff has trusted the sophomore to audible more than past Iowa QB’s. He wasn’t flashy, but I’d say game ball goes to Rudock for his decision making and management of a “ball control” game. Or maybe the entire dominant Iowa O-line. The score could have been worse for the Gophers as Iowa settled for three field goals and missed one. And WR Kevonte Martin-Manley dropped a third down pass that may have resulted in a touchdown. But then, it could also be said that the game could have been closer as the Minnesota coaching staff gave their kids a chance by calling some pass plays that produced open receivers. Nelson connected on a few, but not often enough to keep drives alive and gain field position.

THE NON-PLAYS
Illinois 50  Miami (Ohio) 14   (Illinois -26)
I predicted Illinois to win, but not by so much; 35 to 10. Miami (Ohio) isn’t very good, but coming into the season I never would have guessed that the Illini would be capable of taking care of business against a weaker foe like they did last Saturday. This team is “night and day” different from last season’s train wreck of a team. The Illini have already surpassed last season’s win total and have a good shot at winning a couple of conference games. I still wouldn’t call them a conference contender, but I’d say that right now Illinois could beat any team that takes them lightly. Starting QB Nathan Scheelhaase got off to a rocky start throwing the ball, but quickly got on track and ended up 19 of 24 with five touchdown passes. In fact, the whole game was a rare “stat-padder” for the Illini as they raced out to a 36 to 0 halftime lead and coasted to the finish line.
Ohio St. 31  Wisconsin 24   (Ohio St. -7)
I came close on this one as I predicted a 30 to 27 Buckeye victory. The game lived up to expectations as it was a good one to watch, but the better team won. Ohio St. for the most part shut down Wisconsin’s vaunted running attack, forcing the Badgers to throw on early downs. Badgers’ QB Joel Stave answered the challenge, and his critics, by turning in a solid passing performance. He did have a penchant for locking in on Jared Abrederis, but I can’t blame him because the Buckeyes struggled to cover the talented WR. But it wasn’t enough to offset the performance of Ohio St. QB Braxton Miller, who I thought had the best passing game of his career. Miller has always been a great runner, but I’ve always felt that his only weakness was his passing game and that it would cost the Buckeyes in games like this. But if Miller can continue to throw like he did Saturday, the Buckeyes are going to be very difficult to beat. (Btw, this game aside, the publicized notion that backup QB Kenny Guiton should replace Miller as the starter is absolutely ludicrous. Replace the QB that led you through the Big Ten conference undefeated with a player whose claim to the position is beating up on FAMU? Uh…no. Just no.) I have to give some credit to Urban Meyer here, who has yet to be defeated as the Buckeye’s HC. Ohio St. came into this game with question marks due to their annual weak non-conference schedule. But to date his Buckeyes team has always risen to the occasion, mostly due to Meyer’s attention to detail. I mean, I just don’t see a Meyer coached team allowing an opponent to score a touchdown on fourth down from 40 yards out with seven seconds left in the half. Or negating a critical takeaway due to lining up incorrectly on a punt. Yet Wisconsin committed both of these mistakes and they were back-breaking difference makers. And I’m not knocking Wisconsin HC Gary Anderson ‘cuz I think he’s an excellent coach doing a great job. These are just young kids after all, and they will make mistakes. But somehow Meyer has a knack for minimizing such errors in big games.
Oklahoma 35  Notre Dame 21   (Oklahoma -3.5)
I predicted Oklahoma to win, 24 to 21. I was right on with Notre Dame’s score, but I didn’t expect OU QB Blake Bell to have such a big game. I probably should have; seems like most all QBs play their best game against the Irish and for whatever reason, this season’s Notre Dame defense is playing well below preseason expectations. Notre Dame QB Tommy Rees played poorly for the second week in a row, but as an Irish fan, I hope he doesn’t get replaced. I disagree with those who blame the Irish’s troubles on the absence of last year’s starting QB Everett Golson. This isn’t on Rees. I think he’ll be fine. I know I’ve already railed on the kid once, so it’s probably not cool to do so again, but Notre Dame fans can look at DE Stephon Tuitt as a reflection of what’s wrong with Notre Dame this season. The hunger that was there last year just isn’t present with this season’s team. From the couch it appears that the Irish, particularly the defense, spent the offseason reading press clippings and have come into the season a step slower and are now struggling to get that step back. It’s gonna be difficult to predict Notre Dame games because right now they aren’t very good. But HC Brian Kelly is a good coach and there’s talent on this team, so they are capable of turning things around.
Arizona St. 62  USC 41   (Arizona St. -4)
I incorrectly predicted this game to go into overtime tied at 24. I knew Arizona St. was capable offensively, but figured the Trojans to maintain the excellent defensive performances they’ve posted in this season’s previous games. But the wheels came off after USC QB Cody Kessler threw a pick six early in the third quarter to put the Trojans behind, 34 to 21. With the momentum against them, USC never really got back into the game and couldn’t stop the Sun Devils. This turned out to be the last straw for USC HC Lane Kiffin, as he was fired after the game.

THE CONFERENCE
Northern Illinois 55  Purdue 24   (Northern Illinois -3.5)
Ugh. This was bad. Purdue established itself as the worst in the Big Ten as they were trounced by the MAC Huskies. Purdue reminds me of last season’s Illinois team, complete with a first year coach hired from the MAC, multiple pre-snap penalties, and several mental mistakes. And just when I thought that only Illinois could have been so inept, the Boilermakers’ coaching staff was flagged for sideline interference. But Illinois has made dramatic improvements this season after hiring former Western Michigan HC Bill Cubit, so maybe it takes two MAC coaches to be competitive at the Big Ten level. I wonder if Purdue HC Darrell Hazell is keeping an eye on the “hot seat” that Miami (Ohio)’s HC Don Treadwell is sitting on. Purdue starting QB Rob Henry was benched for true freshman Danny Etling. Etling obviously has a strong arm but made the mistakes that can be expected of a freshman playing for the first time. Apparently the plan was to redshirt Etling, so it would be reasonable to think that lifting the redshirt means the Boilermakers are willing to work through his inexperience and make him the starter for the remainder of the season. But with this being Hazell’s first year, he might be desperate for any win he can get and decide that the experienced Henry gives Purdue the best chance. 

 

CRYSTAL BALL

 WEEK OF 10-5-2013 

MICHIGAN
31
MINNESOTA
13
NEBRASKA
45
ILLINOIS
27
ARIZONA ST
38
NOTRE DAME
30
PENN ST
41
INDIANA
31
MICHIGAN ST
17
IOWA
16
OHIO ST
42
NORTHWESTERN
28
NAVY
23
AIR FORCE
10

 

 
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 five games this week while my competition looked at four. The closing lines are posted above in the “What Happened” section of this post. 

Wow. That was a brutal start to the season. Hopefully I’ve turned things around as I collected my first winner by predicting Iowa to easily beat Minnesota. I know I’m in no position to be, but I’m actually kinda proud of this one because most figured the Gophers to win. Hey, I gotta cling to any confidence-builder that’s available. In fact, the whole Hee-Haw gang did OK this week (well, no one got hurt anyway) as I was one of three contestants to go 1-0. Horned Frog solidified his position in first and Boilermaker evened his overall record as both shrewdly recognized Purdue’s sinking ship and won with Northern Illinois. The ship was not lost on Wildcat as he also took NIU, but lost with Miami (Ohio) to split at 1-1. Cardinal did not have a qualifying pick and Wolverine (a.k.a. Chad Godfrey from isportsweb.com) pushed with his lone selection, Wisconsin. So as it stands now, Horned Frog is the only one ahead in FTC dollars, followed by Boilermaker, who is down only the “juice”. Wildcat is still saving me from the cellar, but it’s the time of season where I start to make more predictions than my competitors. So now’s my chance to make a move.
 

ATS  PLAY STANDINGS
LAST SATURDAY
 
TOTAL
FTC $
W
L
T
 
W
L
T
 
 
HORNED FROG (btn)
1
0
0
 
5
2
0
 
$140
BOILERMAKER (btn)
1
0
0
 
5
5
0
 
-$25
WOLVERINE (isportsweb)
0
0
1
 
5
7
1
 
-$135
CARDINAL (espn)
0
0
0
 
2
5
0
 
-$175
FROM THE COUCH
1
0
0
 
1
4
0
 
-$170
WILDCAT (espn)
1
1
0
 
2
6
0
 
-$230

 

 
STATS

Check out the “ATS stats ‘13” tab at the top of the page and you’ll see that there’s a different contestant at the top of each category in the season totals. You may also notice that aside from Horned Frog’s record in the “play” category, and my “within 7” percentage, there’s nothing that any contestant could brag about at this point in the season.
 

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