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.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

BIG TEN FOOTBALL WEEK 13


WHAT HAPPENED

What happened was some amazing unforeseen circumstances that have left me way behind this week so my post is extremely late. I won’t go into details but trust me, extraordinary. The editing and grammar may be subpar as I was rushed, but ultimately the show did go on. 

THE PLAYS (2-2)
Wisconsin 51  Indiana 3   (Wisconsin -27)
I predicted Wisconsin to win, 63 to 24. Wisconsin pummeling Indiana has become as traditional as Thanksgiving. I’ve been on the right side of this game many times but in recent years I’ve missed the boat. Not this season, though. I saw much of what I expected when Wisconsin had the ball; no way would Indiana’s defense tackle the Badgers RB’s, although they did get a few stops in the second half. Obviously Wisconsin’s defense was even more impressive than I expected as they held Indiana’s high scoring offense to three points. I knew the Hoosiers’ offense wasn’t going to have its way against a legitimate defense like Wisconsin’s, but I did expect maybe an early touchdown and some “garbage” points in the fourth quarter. Maybe that will happen this Saturday when Ohio St. visits Indiana. The Buckeyes defense seems to be a bit more accommodating during “garbage” time. After OSU, the Hoosiers close the season with a winnable game against Purdue. Only a major let down could keep Wisconsin from winning its last two games.
Ohio St. 60  Illinois 35   (Ohio St. -33.5)
I predicted Ohio St. to win, 52 to 10. Things looked good as far as getting my cover was concerned as the Buckeyes were ahead 28 to 0 early in the second quarter. But I can’t say I was completely caught off guard when the Illini basically matched the Buckeye’s scoring the rest of the way to give me an ATS loss. It happens a lot. Enough for me to consider it when handicapping. Heavy favorite jumps out to a big lead early and eventually takes their foot off of the gas as the underdog rallies for the backdoor cover. I almost like to see the favorite struggle a bit in the first half under such circumstances so they’ll come out with some fire to close the game. My thinking was that Ohio St. would want to put up an impressive margin of victory to maintain their position in the BCS standings. And that probably was their intention. But it’s difficult for any team to stay motivated when the outcome is obvious less than a minute after kickoff. Illinois has their best chance, as does their opponent, to get their first conference win of the season this Saturday. Ohio St. should win out, but a trip to the Big House has ruined a few undefeated Buckeyes seasons in the past.
Penn St. 45 Purdue 21   (Penn St. -21.5)
I predicted Penn St. to win, 24 to 18. I expected a bit more out of Purdue’s defense and less out of Penn St.’s offense. I think it’s fair to say that Purdue is the worst team in the conference, but I have noticed small pockets of improvement over the course of the season. I thought the Boilermakers would have a chance to take another “baby step” in this game as I really don’t think too highly of this season’s Penn St. team. But Penn St. QB Christian Hackenberg took a nice step in his progress as he turned in what I think was his best conference game to date. And Purdue’s run defense wasn’t as strong as I’d hoped as the Penn St. RB’s had their way. Purdue’s offense was able to show some of the progress I expected as freshman QB Danny Etling grows into the position. But he still holds the ball way too long in the pocket and it hurt my chances for a cover in this game. And I mean WAY too long. A ridiculous amount of time, in fact. Almost like he’s waiting to get sacked. There. Got my frustrations out. I can see Penn St’s next game being close but I am a bit surprised that they’re favored. But a victory is certainly not out of the question if Hackenberg’s excellent performance in this game wasn’t fool’s gold against a suspect Purdue defense. Purdue won’t be favored in their last two games, but both present the best chance they’ve had all season to win a conference game.
Michigan St. 41 Nebraska 28   (Michigan St. -6)
I predicted Michigan St. to win, 21 to 7. I got the ATS win but obviously not the type of game I expected. The big story was five Nebraska turnovers. The Spartans may have been in trouble otherwise. Michigan St. QB Connor Cook connected on some nice passes in key moments, but I wouldn’t say he was great in the passing game. Neither was his Nebraska counterpart, Tommy Armstrong. But the running game for both teams was better than I expected and a few big plays produced a much higher score than my prediction. Both teams are in danger of a letdown as this game was essentially for the division title. Michigan St. should win out but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they didn’t. And Nebraska should split, but again, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they didn’t. 

THE NON-PLAYS
Michigan 27 Northwestern 19  3OT   (Northwestern -3)
I predicted Northwestern to win, 24 to 21. I’m going to reverse on an old cliché and say “it’s really too bad somebody had to win this game”. But they wouldn’t let the game end until somebody did, despite solid resistance from both teams. Michigan QB Devin Gardner turned in a rare “interception free” game, but it wasn’t due to accurate passing. Northwestern defenders dropped so many passes I lost count. None of which was more critical than a pass that practically appeared to be intended for a Northwestern defender during the drive that sent the game into overtime. A drive that saw Northwestern allow two fourth down conversions and commit a pass interference penalty. A drive that culminated in a rushed last second field goal that Michigan barley got off due to a completed pass in bounds that failed to stop the clock. It was great execution by the Wolverines to kick the ball in time and even greater execution by the referees to place the ball. That play wouldn’t have had a chance in Arizona. The field goal might have been a game winner had Michigan HC Brady Hoke decided to kick the game tying field goal on the Wolverines’ previous possession. Instead he inexplicably decided to go for the first down on fourth and two from the Northwestern four yard line. The Gardner keeper was predictably stuffed. I mean, the score was 9 to 6 at that point so it wasn’t like the offenses were having their way. Northwestern insists on inserting slumping QB Trevor Siemian into the game despite moving the ball effectively while Kain Colter is at the position. In mid drive, even. Just when the Wildcats would pick up a couple of first downs with Colter at the helm, in would come Siemian to kill the drive. I’ve noticed that Michigan opponents seem to “play down” to the Wolverines sloppy standards and Northwestern was no exception in this game. The Wildcats appear to be getting worse offensively as the season wears on and the last second defeats accumulate. For most of the season I’ve felt bad for Northwestern and their misfortune. But it’s getting to the point where the phrase “choke” seems more appropriate than “unlucky”. They’re capable of winning their last two games but “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory” appears to be just as likely. Michigan probably won’t win again, but I’ve got a suspicion about the season ending showdown with Ohio St. The Wolves have upset better Ohio St teams than this year’s version in the past. 

 

CRYSTAL BALL 


WEEK OF 11-23-2013

OHIO ST
52
INDIANA
24
IOWA
24
MICHIGAN
10
ILLINOIS
31
PURDUE
24
BYU
34
NOTRE DAME
31
MICHIGAN ST
24
NORTHWESTERN
12
WISCONSIN
42
MINNESOTA
10
NEBRASKA
38
PENN ST
28
 
 
 

 
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.

My competition and I predicted five games this week. The closing lines are shown above in the “What Happened” section of this post.

Once again I split, but with four selections this week. My winners were Wisconsin and Michigan St., my losers were Purdue and Ohio St. A split didn’t look too bad this week though, as Boilermaker was the only contestant to gain ground with a 2-1 record. He won with Penn St. and Michigan St., and lost with Ohio St. Wildcat maintained his spot at the bottom of the overall standings by going 1-2. He won with Michigan and lost with Indiana and Purdue. Cardinal and Wolverine (a.k.a. Chad Godfrey from isportsweb.com) both went 0-1. Cardinal lost with Ohio St, Wolverine with Indiana. And the overall leader, Horned Frog still sits at the top as he had no qualifying predictions this week. The overall standings remain the same as last week.
 

ATS  PLAY STANDINGS
LAST SATURDAY
 
TOTAL
FTC $
W
L
T
 
W
L
T
 
 
HORNED FROG (btn)
0
0
0
 
10
7
0
 
$115
BOILERMAKER (btn)
2
1
0
 
14
11
0
 
$95
FROM THE COUCH
2
2
0
 
11
12
0
 
-$110
WOLVERINE (isportsweb)
0
1
0
 
13
15
1
 
-$175
CARDINAL (espn)
0
1
0
 
5
9
0
 
-$245
WILDCAT (espn)
1
2
0
 
6
10
0
 
-$250

 

 

 STATS 

Check out the “ATS stats ‘13” tab at the top of the page and you’ll see that I’m at the top of the list in all but the “play” category. It appears as though I’ll have a few predictions that qualify as “plays” this week so I’m hoping to gain some ground and make a run at a clean sweep.

 

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