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.

Monday, September 15, 2014

BIG TEN FOOTBALL ATS WHAT HAPPENED WEEK 3


WHAT HAPPENED

The Big Ten went 3-6 against non-conference opponents, leaving only two teams undefeated after three weeks of play. There doesn’t appear to be any one strong team so I expect a good, balanced conference race. The television schedule was once again kind as I was able to get a look at all but two conference teams. I was a bit surprised that the most tenured coach in the conference doesn’t know the difference between icing a kicker and giving him a practice kick. I was also surprised that Michigan struggled with Miami-Ohio in the first half. I handicapped the Notre Dame game and the only conference game, neither of which qualified as plays.
My Record:  0-0


THE NON-PLAYS
Penn St. 13  Rutgers 10   (Penn St. -3.5)
I predicted Penn St. to win, 27-17. Penn St. is undefeated but not for long. This team has no offense. And I’m not just referring to the players.  They have no offensive package/system. Rutgers continually sent blitzes at Penn St. QB Christian Hackenberg as he stood alone in the backfield and, for the most part, the Nittany Lions had no answer. There was no running game, which is not to say they were incapable of running the ball. It’s just that they hardly ever ran. And it appears that every week they’re going to throw in a couple of head-scratching, untimely trick plays that aren’t all that tricky. Hackenberg has a big arm and he came through in the clutch to pull out the win, but he has some accuracy issues. And I understand that he’s being asked to throw the ball 44 times in the teeth of a blitz behind a weak O-line to average at best receivers. But regardless, he’s hit and miss. Not to say that he’s never on target, because often times he is. But too many times he’s way off.
Rutgers is playing much better than I, and I suspect most, expected. Offensively they may have been a bit outmatched against the Penn St. defense, but still they moved the ball at times. They just shot themselves in the foot too often.  The Rutgers coaching staff, however, wasn’t outmatched at all; on either side of the ball. Five turnovers is a killer, though. Can’t win that way. Eliminate the turnovers and they just might win this game, and still almost did.
Rutgers had the lead throughout most of this game. I expected it to be the other way around with Penn St. nursing a touchdown or so cushion. In other words, while I knew Penn St. isn’t a great team right now, I still expected Penn St. to be Penn St, a nationally renowned program, and Rutgers to be Rutgers, an FBS afterthought.
I’m not willing to elevate my opinion of Rutgers so much as much as I’m lowering my opinion of Penn St., though. The Nittany Lions have to find more offense.

Notre Dame 30  Purdue 14   (Notre Dame -29)
I predicted Notre Dame to win, 37-10. This game went pretty much like I described in my Crystal Ball write-up; a flat Notre Dame playing an inspired Purdue team to a close first half and shutting out the Boilermakers in the second half as they eventually pull away. I’m still impressed with Notre Dame QB Everett Golson, but I’ve downgraded my opinion of the Irish running game. In fact, I’m going from “this could be a special year for the Irish” to reserving judgment as I watched last week’s opponent, Michigan, struggle with lowly Miami-Ohio. Could be that the Irish have yet to be tested. My prediction looks a lot better here if Notre Dame instead punches it in on one of the two fourth quarter occasions that they had to settle for a field goal.
Purdue played above expectations, based on the predictions I gathered from my on-line competition. They always do against the Irish. I expected QB Danny Etling to get the hook for this game due to a poor performance last week, but I’ll give HC Darrell Hazell credit for not panicking and sticking with his starter who, for the most part, played well. I was critical of Hazell and his Boilermakers in my Crystal Ball write-up but he had his outmatched team ready to play for this game. But it was this time last year, when Purdue almost beat the Irish, that I elevated my opinion of the Boilermakers and Hazell. It ended up costing me as I picked Purdue the following week so I’m not falling for that one again. I’ll need more evidence to determine which is the real Purdue team; the one we saw against the Irish or the one we saw get handled by a Central Michigan team who just got pummeled by 37 points last Saturday.




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. 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.

Two games were predicted last week as we are still a couple of weeks away from a full slate of conference play. Neither of my predictions qualified as “plays”. The same can be said for five other contestants while the remaining four had one game that qualified. There was only one who won; Athlon’s Mitch Light with his Purdue selection. Two others lost with Notre Dame and one lost with Penn St. So after three games, I and four others have had no qualifying picks, which currently leaves us at the top of the list as the other contestants are behind for the season.

ATS  PLAY STANDINGS
LAST SATURDAY
TOTAL
FTC $
W
L
T
W
L
T
FROM THE COUCH
0
0
0
0
0
0
$0
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
0
0
0
0
0
0
$0
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
0
0
0
0
0
0
$0
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
0
0
0
0
0
0
$0
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
0
0
0
0
0
0
$0
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
1
0
0
1
1
0
-$5
BRENT YARINA (btn)
0
1
0
0
1
0
-$55
TOM DEINHART (btn)
0
1
0
0
1
0
-$55
STATRAT (pubhole)
0
0
0
0
1
0
-$55
DAVID FOX (athlon)
0
1
0
0
2
0
-$110

  
DETAILS 

THIS WEEK’S PLAY DETAILS
WINNERS
LOSERS
WEBSITE
FROM THE COUCH
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
STATRAT (pubhole)
TOM DEINHART (btn)
ND,
BRENT YARINA (btn)
ND,
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
DAVID FOX (athlon)
PSU,
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
ND,






SEASON STATS

 As you can see from the “Straight Up” category, it’s hard enough to just pick the outright winner as only four of us have done so after only three games. Athlon’s Mitch Light had a good week as he was the only one to win in the play category and both of his predicted spreads were within 7 points of the final score. Personally, I think the “Within 7” category is the most significant barometer in determining handicapping skills.


SPREAD RECORD
W
L
STRAIGHT UP
W
L
FROM THE COUCH
2
1
FROM THE COUCH
3
0
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
2
1
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
3
0
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
2
1
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
3
0
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
2
1
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
3
0
STATRAT (pubhole)
1
2
STATRAT (pubhole)
2
1
TOM DEINHART (btn)
1
2
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
2
1
BRENT YARINA (btn)
1
2
DAVID FOX (athlon)
2
1
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
1
2
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
2
1
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
0
3
TOM DEINHART (btn)
1
2
DAVID FOX (athlon)
0
3
BRENT YARINA (btn)
1
2
WITHIN 7
W
L
CLOSEST
W
L
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
2
1
FROM THE COUCH
2
1
FROM THE COUCH
1
2
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
2
1
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
1
2
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
2
1
STATRAT (pubhole)
1
2
STATRAT (pubhole)
1
2
TOM DEINHART (btn)
1
2
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
1
2
BRENT YARINA (btn)
1
2
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
1
2
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
1
2
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
0
3
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
1
2
TOM DEINHART (btn)
0
3
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
1
2
BRENT YARINA (btn)
0
3
DAVID FOX (athlon)
0
3
DAVID FOX (athlon)
0
3


SPREAD RECORD-Simply displays the ATS record.
STRAIGHT UP- The outright winner, disregarding the spread.
WITHIN 7-This category tracks how many times a predicted point spread was within seven points of the actual spread (final score). Why does this matter? Because one can never lose in the play category if the prediction is within 7 points. 35 percent is about average in this category. Close to 50 percent is excellent.
CLOSEST - It’s possible to be on the correct side of the spread yet not be as accurate. EX: If I predict Michigan by 12, the spread is 6, and Michigan wins by 7, I get a win in the spread record category. I get a loss in the closest category because the spread (7-6=1) was closer than my prediction (12-7=5).

Any games that go into overtime will be calculated as a tie for the “closest” and “within 7” category. The actual score will be used, however, for the other two categories.

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