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.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

BIG TEN FOOTBALL FINAL


WHAT HAPPENED

A great game in the Ohio St.-Michigan classic. The Buckeyes won a nail biter and got a bonus as #1 Alabama was defeated, leaving Ohio St. as a favorite to be a participant in the national championship game if they can beat Michigan St. this Saturday. I’m guessing that, aside from Michigan St. fans, most Big Ten fans will be rooting for Ohio St. for that reason. 

THE PLAYS (2-2-1)
Iowa 38 Nebraska 17   (Nebraska -2.5)
I predicted Iowa to win, 27 to 17. I was surprised to see that many, including the oddsmakers, projected Nebraska to win this game. I understand that the game was at Lincoln, but still, Nebraska’s defense hasn’t displayed any capabilities of stopping a running game like Iowa’s, and the Hawkeye’s defense is one of the best in the conference. Add the fact that Nebraska was down to its third string QB and I’m one of the few who isn’t surprised by the outcome. Nebraska’s first two drives ended with an interception which allowed Iowa to eventually capitalize and take control of the game. The loss closes out what can only be considered a disappointing regular season by Nebraska standards. Many of the Huskers fans are calling for HC Bo Pelini’s dismissal, but as of this date the Nebraska AD has issued a statement endorsing Pelini as next season’s coach. Personally I don’t think the undercover recording of Pelini’s outburst, his comments about Tommy Frazier, or even his sideline interview during the game should be cause for firing a coach. Game day results are a legitimate reason, however, and from the couch it doesn’t appear that Pelini is going to restore Nebraska’s program back to the glory days. Iowa’s season exceeded expectations after a rocky start. I know Northern Illinois is undefeated, but I still think the Hawkeyes should be able to beat any school from the MAC. Iowa HC Kirk Ferentz has been under scrutiny himself in recent years but this season’s campaign should alleviate much of the criticism. The Hawkeyes have a good QB in Jake Rudock, but he is prone to throwing costly interceptions.
Indiana 56 Purdue 36   (Indiana -20)
I predicted Indiana to win, 42 to 31. I was happy about squeaking out the backdoor push, but a little annoyed with missing out on the win due to Purdue HC Darrell Hazell’s decision to go for a meaningless two point conversion (that failed) with a minute left in the game. Who does that? In fact, who besides high school coaches attempt many of the tactics Hazell tried to utilize throughout the season? Purdue was never in this game. They were never in most of their games this season. I thought I’d seen the worst possible debut season a Big Ten head coach could produce in Tim Beckman’s campaign last season with Illinois. But this season’s effort from Hazell is very comparable. Like Beckman, Hazell should and will be afforded the “mulligan” that comes with any coach’s initial season, but this was an ugly season for the Boilermakers. From the couch I don’t think Hazell or Beckman are long for this conference.  Sure, sloppiness is usually expected from teams with a new HC in his first season, but some of the inadequacies from both programs are questionable regardless of the circumstances. Indiana fans had high expectations coming into the season. Why, I don’t know. I’m not even sure what “high expectations” might mean to a Hoosier fan, given the team’s performance in the past decade or so. So maybe those expectations were met with five wins and a flashy, entertaining offense. I suspect that bowl eligibility might have been on many Hoosiers fans' wish list, though, and that didn’t happen this year. The fans and media seem to be enthralled with Indiana’s offense and, consequently, HC Kevin Wilson. But personally, in terms of competitiveness, I don’t think the program is much better than it was under the previous regime.
Michigan St. 14 Minnesota 3   (Michigan St. -17)
I predicted Michigan St. to win, 24 to 14. I expected a letdown from Michigan St. and finally became convinced last week that Minnesota is no “cupcake”. The Spartans may have been a little flat, but not as much as I figured. Minnesota had some chances in the red zone and had some success running the ball. But QB Phillip Nelson was mostly awful in the throwing game. An upset here wouldn’t have surprised me, but the Spartans took care of business and closed out the regular season as a one loss team. It’s not a complete surprise that Michigan St. won their division as they were one of four teams that were considered as legitimate contenders. Have to credit the coaching staff and to some degree, a weak conference schedule. Obviously the defense was great. The offense started off as downright bad and progressed to “average” by season’s end. Like most college offenses, success hinges on the QB and Connor Cook came through with some nice clutch passes later in the season. Still, there are times when he misses badly. Michigan St. has a good enough chance to win the conference championship game against Ohio St., but I think Cook and the offense will keep that from happening. Minnesota’s season was a huge success. After a “here we go again” slow start in conference play, the Gophers turned things around and finished with eight wins and a probable trip to a bowl game. Ironically, the turnaround began when HC Jerry Kill took a leave of absence due to health issues. At the time, those health issues were being cited as a reason to possibly dismiss Kill. But when the Gophers started winning, Kill’s health was suddenly no longer an issue. It will be interesting to see how the Gophers do next season. I think they snuck up on a couple of teams this season, but there is no question that Kill and his staff have this team heading in the right direction. I would suspect that a good portion of the off season focus will be on improving the passing game.
Northwestern 37 Illinois 34   (Northwestern -3.5)
I predicted Northwestern to win, 30 to 17. I knew Illinois was feeling pretty good about themselves after picking up their first conference win in two years last week. I think that win became somewhat of a goal for the team about midway through the season. Accomplishing the mission could only be a boost of confidence for Illinois. I also knew that Northwestern was ready to get this season over with as they found themselves at the bottom of the conference after coming into the season with valid championship hopes. But still, this was Illinois the Wildcats were playing. Preseason perception proved to be too difficult for me to discard as I figured the ‘Cats to win by double digits regardless of both teams’ current condition. I also figured Northwestern to be motivated by the fact that they had yet to win a conference game. But Northwestern did have a lot of starters out due to injury, including QB Kain Colter. So after watching the game, I don’t think Northwestern was uninspired as much as I might have overrated the Wildcats. And they did have a ten point lead midway through the fourth quarter, so I wasn’t completely off base. Although Northwestern ended on a high note, this season was a disaster considering the expectations. The Wildcats were poised to take a seat at the “adult table” among the conference teams but instead have regressed back into “same ol’ Northwestern”.  Illinois improved considerably on the offensive side of the ball when compared to last season. But then, the bar wasn’t very high. The defense was among the worst in a conference that, aside from four teams, is very weak defensively. The offensive improvement will probably be enough for HC Tim Beckman to keep his job for another season; which is an unusual comment for a second year coach. But his first season was such a disaster that it will probably take more than a conference win or two, or maybe even three, for him to wear the Illinois hat for a fourth season.
Penn St. 31 Wisconsin 14   (Wisconsin -25)
I predicted Wisconsin to win, 42 to 10. When I lost with Wisconsin last week I said that I overrated the Badgers. Then I turned around and made the same mistake this week. But I don’t think anyone saw Wisconsin losing. Last week against Nebraska, a light turned on for Penn St. freshman QB Christian Hackenberg. That light was shining like a beacon in the night against the Badgers. I’ve been critical of the accolades directed at Hackenberg all season. And I stand by those criticisms as they pertain to that point in time. But the kid has come of age in the last two games. He’s grown into a quarterback as opposed to a “big arm”. If he proves to be as competitive as his predecessor was in his final year, the Nittany Lions can expect big things from Hackenberg. Wisconsin peaked in the middle of the season and seemed to be on the decline offensively at season’s end. Penn St. is not great defensively, but the Nittany Lions stifled what was considered to be a great Wisconsin offense. The biggest problem in this game, aside from Hackenberg, was Wisconsin QB Joel Stave’s performance. Penn St. loaded the box and dared Stave to throw. Obviously the strategy worked as Stave was way off target on most occasions. Stave has been a good enough QB through most of the season, but then, the Badgers haven’t been put in a position to rely on the passing game very often. I suspect this loss will put Stave in a position to have to battle for his starting job next spring. 

THE NON-PLAYS
Ohio St. 42 Michigan 41   (Ohio St. -16)
I predicted Ohio St. to win, 34 to 12. I had a suspicion about this game. The history of the rivalry made me think the Wolverines would give the Buckeyes all they could handle. But suspicion wasn’t enough for me to ignore the performance of both teams this season so I came up with a reasonable prediction. I mean there was no reason to think that Michigan would hang 41 on the Buckeyes and have a chance to win with seconds left in the game. Unbelievable effort by the Wolverines offense. College kids; ya just never know. I didn’t think Ohio St. would make it through another regular season undefeated, but now only one more win stands between the Buckeyes and a probable spot in the National Championship game. Michigan can be about as proud as they’ve ever been about a loss, but the season can only be regarded as disappointing. QB Devin Gardner unjustly came into the season as a potential Heisman candidate among Wolverine fans, but fell way short of expectations. Aside from the game against Michigan and Notre Dame, Gardner has struggled with his passing accuracy all season. He’s also been a turnover machine. But he hasn’t had much help around him. Although the Michigan faithful are grumbling, it appears HC Brady Hoke has full support from his boss. But I gotta think another season like this one will result in a change of leadership.
Stanford 27 Notre Dame 20   (Stanford -15.5)
I predicted Stanford to win, 24 to 14. This loss leaves Notre Dame at 8-4 for the season and, of course, the Irish fans wanting to nail the HC, QB, AD, and Leprechaun to the cross. I like HC Brian Kelly and think he will produce several good seasons for Notre Dame. But I also think that ND’s standards leave the pool too small to recruit and keep enough superior athletes to compete for a national championship every season. Last season’s starting QB, Everett Golson, was kicked out of school for cheating on an exam. The fact that he actually had to take the exam himself is a more stringent requirement than can be found at some programs.

 

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

Geez, I had five plays this week, yet I still managed to split for the fifth time in the last six weeks as the Indiana-Purdue game ended in a push (thanks Hazell, ya dufus). I never could get over my slow start and finished behind in FTC dollars, which hasn’t been a common occurrence. My winners were Iowa and Minnesota, my losers were Wisconsin and Northwestern. Horned Frog is this season’s overall winner as he was the only one to collect. He didn’t have any qualifying picks this week and finished the season at 12-7, good for 215 FTC dollars. Boilermaker finished in second place but ended up 20 FTC dollars behind for the season as he lost his only play this week with Michigan St. And Wolverine (a.k.a. Chad Godfrey from isportsweb.com) passed me to take third place with one winner, Penn St. The ESPN boys, Wildcat and Cardinal finished at the bottom. Wildcat went 1-1-1 as he won with Illinois and lost with Ohio St. He also pushed with the Indiana-Purdue game, as did Cardinal. 

ATS  PLAY STANDINGS
LAST SATURDAY
 
TOTAL
FTC $
W
L
T
 
W
L
T
 
 
HORNED FROG (btn)
0
0
0
 
12
7
0
 
$215
BOILERMAKER (btn)
0
1
0
 
15
14
0
 
-$20
WOLVERINE (isportsweb)
1
0
0
 
14
15
1
 
-$125
FROM THE COUCH
2
2
1
 
15
16
1
 
-$130
WILDCAT (espn)
1
1
1
 
8
11
1
 
-$205
CARDINAL (espn)
0
0
1
 
6
11
1
 
-$305

 



 STATS 

Check out the “ATS stats ‘13” tab at the top of the page and you’ll see that I managed to finish at the top of every category but the one that matters most- the “play” category. 



CLOSING TIME 

That’s all, folks! 
 

 

No comments:

Post a Comment