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 22, 2013

BIG TEN FOOTBALL WEEK 9


WHAT HAPPENED

It’s that time of the season when the conference standings begin to take some form and each week of play will virtually knock a team or two out of the race for the title. This week’s casualties are Purdue and Northwestern. Ohio St. passed yet another test and Michigan St. took sole possession of first place in the Legends Division. 

THE PLAYS (1-2)
Minnesota 20  Northwestern 17   (Northwestern -13)
I predicted Northwestern to win, 41 to 17. I still think Northwestern is the better team, but last Saturday Minnesota earned the win, and Northwestern earned the loss. This game represents a blown opportunity for QB Trevor Siemian and the Northwestern football program. With last season’s ten wins and this season’s undefeated nonconference record, the Wildcats had an opportunity this season to take a seat among the upper echelon teams in the conference. And Siemian had an opportunity in this game to prove that he was an equal, if not better, partner in Northwestern’s dual quarterback system, capable of handling all of the snaps and leading his team to victory while his counterpart, Kain Colter, was sidelined with an injury. No shame in losing to Ohio St. and Wisconsin so I thought the Wildcats would be ready to put those losses behind them and make a serious run at the Legends Division title. But for whatever reason, they came out flat. Northwestern’s success has always hinged on solid, heads up quarterback play and superior offensive play calling. The Wildcats got neither as Siemian was off his game for the second week in a row. I remember him struggling for about a two game stretch last season too. I thought it was an aberration, but apparently it’s a pattern. I think the Wildcats win this game if Siemian plays anything like we’ve seen him play throughout most of his career. He was off target on several passes, and while it’s usually good defense and bad luck when a pass gets batted down at the line of scrimmage, after about three or four times you have to look at the QB and say, “what the hell dude, find a throwing lane”. The Northwestern OC was outdone in this game also. Which is kinda surprising considering the current uncertainty among Minnesota’s coaching staff. The Gophers had an answer for just about everything the Wildcats’ offense dialed up. And speaking of the Gophers, what a win for that program. Arguably and ironically the best since HC Jerry Kill’s arrival. Kill made a cameo appearance looking over his OC’s shoulder in the booth, but otherwise was considered to be on a leave of absence due to health issues. One of the few bright spots for Northwestern was the defense’s success in stopping the run in the early part of the game, but by the second half the Gophers ground game was clicking along. Although Minnesota doesn’t alternate QB’s quite as much as Northwestern, the Gophers have a “dual QB” thing of their own going on. Phillip Nelson had the hot hand in this game as he replaced starter Mitch Leidner in the second quarter and led the Gophers to their first touchdown of the game. Obviously Minnesota surprised me and is now in a good position to become bowl eligible. In looking at their schedule it appears they have two good chances, and neither one will be easy. And despite the disappointing performance, I’m not ready to count Northwestern out of any of their remaining games.
Michigan 63  Indiana 47   (Michigan -9.5)
My prediction was for this game to go into overtime at 37. I know Indiana has a poor defense, but I thought they made some improvement over their previous two games. Obviously I was wrong. As I expected, Michigan shot themselves in the foot a couple of times and turned the ball over, but that wasn’t enough to keep Indiana’s quick strike offense close enough to cover the spread. And, regardless of the poor defense he was facing, I didn’t expect Michigan QB Devin Gardner to be accurate with most of his passes. But Gardner had one of his best passing days as he went 21 of 29 against a Hoosier defense that can only be described as horrendous. While watching Indiana’s defense I kept wondering how Penn St. could only manage 24 points against this team, and how Michigan could have lost to a team that only managed 24 points against this team. Michigan’s defense wasn’t much better as this game turned out to be a matter of which offense was going to stop itself more often. In the end it turned out to be Indiana as I lost my chance to cover the spread when Hoosier QB Tre Roberson was intercepted as a result of a miscommunication in the pass route. As far as individual performances go, what can I say? Every player on offense looked great, and every player on defense looked terrible. One thing that did kinda stand out, though, was Indiana’s wide receivers as they made some spectacular catches. Although I didn’t predict this much scoring, this game was about like I expected and didn’t change my opinion much about either team. A couple of mid to lower level conference teams squaring off. Indiana has a few games left on their schedule that they could win, but as usual, it will depend on its offense outscoring the large number of points its defense allows. Michigan, on the other hand, might not win another game.
Notre Dame 14  USC 10   (Notre Dame -3)
I predicted Notre Dame to win, 31 to 21. I got the cover here, but had to sweat it out as it became apparent that Notre Dame was not going to score any points after starting QB Tommy Rees got knocked out of the game early in the second half. But DE Stephon Tuitt and the Irish defense turned in their best performance of the season and rode a 14 to 10 halftime lead to the finish line. If Rees stays in the game, I think Notre Dame gets close to the 31 points I predicted and, coupled with the defensive performance, wins easy. But “not ready for prime time” backup QB Andrew Hendrix missed badly on his first two passes prompting Irish HC Brian Kelly to stick to running the ball into the teeth of a USC defense that loaded the box. A risky proposition to turn the game over to an Irish defense that hasn’t lived up to expectations through most of this season, but really no choice given Hendrix’s play. The Irish defense continually rose the occasion as USC started several possessions in excellent field position yet came away scoreless. The Trojans contributed a certain amount of help Notre Dame’s cause as they were guilty of a few holding penalties. But credit for the win truly does belong to the Notre Dame defense. As of now, Rees is day to day. I assume Hendrix will play better if he’s needed, but obviously Notre Dame is a much better offense with Rees. The Irish have some games coming up on their schedule that, even with Hendrix as the starter, they should win. But every team gives Notre Dame their best shot, so anything can happen. 

THE NON-PLAYS
Michigan St 14  Purdue 0   (Michigan St. -27.5)
I predicted Michigan St. to win, 31 to 7. Where did this Purdue team come from? The Boilermakers looked good in one game earlier in the season against Notre Dame, but aside from that have displayed no indication that they could hang with a team many consider the favorite in the Legends Division. Although Michigan St.’s offense regressed some in this game, the Boilermakers defense turned in an outstanding performance in giving up only seven points via a trick play. The offense was guilty of giving up a touchdown off of a fumble return, but considering the Spartans have one of the better defenses in the nation, actually looked better than I expected as they ran several plays for positive yardage. It’s probably safe to assume the Spartans may have looked past Purdue and were uninspired, but still, compared to previous weeks, the Boilermakers cleaned up some issues for this game. Most notable was committing only three penalties the whole game. I’ve seen them commit that many in one possession. And QB Danny Etling showed improvement in his second start. The kid’s got a big arm, and although he still holds the ball a bit too long when dropping back, he showed considerable improvement in that regard over last week. And while Michigan St. may have been uninspired, there’s no question that QB Connor Cook took a step back in this game as he was off target on several passes. Even as good as Michigan St.’s defense is, I think the Spartan’s are going to need more than one offensive touchdown to win against some of the teams remaining on their schedule. But obviously that was enough against one of the teams among arguably the easiest crossover schedule in the conference. Quality of performance varies often in college football, so I’m not sure that Purdue can improve upon last Saturday’s effort. But if they do I’d say there’s some hope for a conference victory. Maybe two.
Ohio St. 34  Iowa 24   (Ohio St. -18)
I predicted Ohio St. to win, 31 to 15. Aside from Iowa putting more points on the board than I predicted, this game went about as I figured. I envisioned Iowa taking a lead into halftime and eventually giving way to the Buckeyes in the second half. As a team ranked in the top five nationally, the Buckeyes are gonna get every opponent’s best shot. The challenge for Ohio St. is to match that kind of intensity week in and week out. And college football history has taught me that eventually most teams play a game or two of uninspired football and risk losing to an inferior team. And Iowa has just the kind of team that could pull off such an upset. But Ohio St. HC Urban Meyer has a knack for getting his team prepared each week and an even better knack for second half adjustments. Iowa started the game running the ball effectively and QB Jake Rudock was sharp until the last quarter. Really an overall nice effort by the Hawkeyes and nothing to be ashamed of considering the opponent. Ohio St. QB Braxton Miller appeared to be back to full strength health-wise and torched the Hawkeyes both running and throwing. And RB Carlos Hyde is making a case for best in the conference despite missing the first four games of the season. I believe the Buckeyes have just completed the toughest part of their schedule and now only need to be concerned about the aforementioned letdown. There’s really no other team in the conference on the same level as the Buckeyes if Miller continues to pass as well as he did last Saturday and in the Wisconsin game. Iowa has a good defense and I like Rudock a lot. I think the kid’s a winner despite not having the natural talent that other conference QB’s have. But the Hawkeyes have a tough schedule ahead of them. I wouldn’t count them out of any of the remaining games, but I wouldn’t call them a heavy favorite either. I look for a single digit Las Vegas line in each game.
Wisconsin 56  Illinois 32   (Wisconsin -14)
I predicted Wisconsin to win, 31 to 14. It’s difficult to do, but I try to anticipate spots where a team may come in flat. I thought this would be such a spot for the Badgers (I think the oddsmakers did too) but obviously I was wrong. Wisconsin scored on its first three possessions and stifled the Illini offense as they essentially ended the game in the first quarter with a 21 to 0 lead. The Illinois defense was simply outmanned as the Wisconsin offensive line paved the way for 289 rushing yards. I don’t know why, but the Badgers ran first down pass plays on several occasions. Maybe they figured they needed the practice because running over the Illini was all that was really necessary. Illinois scored 17 second quarter points and clawed their way back into the game. Well, sort of. Truth is, it was already garbage time as Wisconsin matched two touchdowns to every Illini touchdown from the middle of the second quarter on. I wouldn’t say Wisconsin is unbeatable, but right now they appear to be the best in the conference behind Ohio St.  And Illinois, while much improved from last year, appears to be among the worst. That having been said, aside from a few upper level teams, there isn’t much separation between most teams in the conference. So even though Illinois might possibly be favored in only one of their remaining games, I think they have a legitimate shot at not only picking up their first conference win in about two years, but maybe picking up more than one.
 

 

CRYSTAL BALL

WEEK OF 10-26-2013 

OHIO ST
45
PENN ST
14
MICHIGAN ST
28
ILLINOIS
13
NOTRE DAME
42
AIR FORCE
14
NEBRASKA
41
MINNESOTA
21
IOWA
31
NORTHWESTERN
28
PITT
38
NAVY
24

 
Note: The Notre Dame prediction assumes Tommy Rees will be able to start.

 

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

No such thing as a sure thing when picking games ATS. Consequently there are occasions when I have some doubts about some of my plays a day or two before kickoff. Not the case this week though, as I was confident in all three of my selections. Yet at the end of the day, I finished 1-2. Northwestern and Indiana let me down as my losers, and I got a shaky win out of Notre Dame. Not a great week for the rest of the gang either as no one earned any FTC dollars. No one other than myself lost any more than 5 FTC dollars in juice, though, as three contestants split at 1-1 while Cardinal and Wildcat didn’t have any qualifying predictions. Boilermaker and Horned Frog both won with Wisconsin and lost with Michigan St. Wolverine (a.k.a. Chad Godfrey from isportsweb.com) won with Iowa and lost with Northwestern. The overall standings remained the same with Horned Frog and Boilermaker still the only two contestants on the plus side in FTC dollars. But I’m looking to make a move this Saturday with some bold predictions that, as of right now, have produced three qualifying picks. And there will probably be a fourth if Notre Dame QB Tommy Rees is cleared to start, so buckle up everybody.
 

ATS  PLAY STANDINGS
LAST SATURDAY
 
TOTAL
FTC $
W
L
T
 
W
L
T
 
 
HORNED FROG (btn)
1
1
0
 
7
4
0
 
$130
BOILERMAKER (btn)
1
1
0
 
8
7
0
 
$15
FROM THE COUCH
1
2
0
 
4
6
0
 
-$130
WOLVERINE (isportsweb)
1
1
0
 
9
11
1
 
-$155
CARDINAL (espn)
0
0
0
 
3
6
0
 
-$180
WILDCAT (espn)
0
0
0
 
2
7
0
 
-$285

 

 

 STATS 

Check out the “ATS stats ‘13” tab at the top of the page and you’ll see that I’m no longer a  bottom dweller in the “spread record” and “closest” category as I gained some ground in both. Horned Frog also gained ground and now sits in the top three in all categories. And I made a slight improvement on my remarkable “within 7” percentage and sit comfortably at the top of that category.
 

No comments:

Post a Comment