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 29, 2014

BIG TEN FOOTBALL ATS WHAT HAPPENED WEEK 5


WHAT HAPPENED 

I’m off to a good start as I picked up two ATS wins last Saturday. One of them was a Notre Dame game versus a non-Big Ten conference team, so that game won’t be counted in the competition standings, but it is included in my overall record listed below this paragraph. My predictions and pre game comments can be found on my previous post, dated 9-24 (ATS Predictions - Week 5).
My Record:  2-0


THE PLAYS
Nebraska 45  Illinois 14   (Nebraska -21.5)
I predicted Nebraska to win, 56-17. Nebraska did pretty much what I figured and hoped they would; hand the ball to RB Ameer Abdullah repeatedly. As I said in my prediction write-up, Illinois doesn’t tackle very well. Abdullah rushed for 208 yards and his backup, Imani Cross added another 109 yards.
It was a late (game time) surprise to find that Illinois starting QB Wes Lunt wouldn’t play in this game due to an injury suffered the week before. His backup, Riley O’Toole, threw the ball well enough, but obviously the Illini would have preferred to have Lunt in the game. Wouldn’t have made much difference,though. Nebraska’s defense is OK, but once the ‘Huskers established a lead they were able to pin their ears back and aggressively pressure the QB. And the Illini O-Line struggled to protect.
I was pretty close to spot on with my predicted Illini score. I overstated Nebraska’s score by a bit, due mostly to the ‘Huskers taking their foot off of the gas and working on their passing game in the second half (and their passing game does need work). But still, my prediction was close enough to get the ATS win.

Notre Dame 31  Syracuse 15   (Notre Dame -9)
I predicted Notre Dame to win, 34-14. It’s rare to get an ATS win when your selected team commits five turnovers; particularly when one of ‘em is a pick-six. But this is one of those rare cases because I got the win anyway as my predicted score was very close to the actual score.
Most everything I mentioned in my prediction write-up, other than the turnovers, came into play. Notre Dame still is suspect in the running game, but QB Everett Golson is good enough against a team like Syracuse to compensate for any shortcomings. And the Irish defense continues to impress as they kept Syracuse’s most significant threat - QB Terell Hunt - contained for most of the game.


THE NON-PLAYS
Iowa 24  Purdue 10   (Iowa -9)
I predicted Iowa to win, 24 to 12. As the final score indicates, this one went pretty much as I expected, with Iowa eventually wearing down Purdue with its running game.
C.J. Beathard got the start at QB for Iowa. I’m not sure if the usual starting QB, Jake Rudock, was unable to play due to an injury or if he was just flat out benched in favor of Beathard. Personally, I think Rudock is better, but Beathard’s play didn’t cause much of a drop off. Beathard did throw a pick-six, but then, Rudock isn’t above making such a mistake himself.
I indicated in my prediction write-up that - while I was concerned that Purdue might regress like they did last season - I was counting on the Boilermakers to maintain the recent improvement they’ve shown and keep this game relatively close. I wasn’t disappointed as they Boilermakers hung tough, and actually outplayed the Hawkeyes in the early part of the game.

Northwestern 29  Penn St. 6   (Penn St. -11)
If you check my prediction write-up (ATS Predictions - Week 5) you’ll see that I’m trying to talk myself into predicting the Northwestern upset, but I just couldn’t do it. Prior to this game, Northwestern just hasn’t played well enough to support my doing so. But I had a strong hunch, and in 20/20 hindsight would have liked to have gone with it.
As I suggested, Northwestern QB Trevor Siemian was bound to play to his potential at some point. He played well enough in this game be a difference maker as he picked apart the Nittany Lions defense through the air. And he can do better. He was still a bit erratic in this game – hit or miss. His receivers aren’t as good as in the past so I suppose he’s forced to throw to tighter windows, but from the couch it looked like he missed some opportunities as he was off-target on a handful of occasions.
Another reason I had such a strong hunch is that I felt Penn St. isn’t as good as perceived, particularly on offense. I called for QB Christian Hackenberg to use his strong arm to torch the Wildcats for a couple of long passes – he only hit one; to throw at least one interception – he threw a pick-six; and to miss open receivers – one of his team-mates was so frustrated with a short-hopped pass that he got into a heated sideline discussion with Hackenberg. I also figured the O-Line to struggle and they did as Penn St was held to 50 yards rushing and Hackenberg was pressured most of the game.

Maryland 37  Indiana 15   (Indiana -3)
I predicted Indiana to win, 45-42. Obviously I was way off on Indiana’s score. Many others were as well, although there were quite a few who correctly predicted Maryland to win.
It was Indiana’s win over a top twenty-five team the week before and the fact that they were playing at home that had me leaning towards the Hoosiers’ side in this one. I don’t know that I’ve seen a Kevin Wilson coached Indiana team play so poorly on the offensive side of the ball. QB Nate Sudfeld played one of his worst games.
I expected Indiana’s defense to be porous, and for Maryland QB C.J. Brown to have a big day. And he did until he left the game with an injury just before halftime. So his backup, Caleb Rowe, took his place and continued the big day at the QB position. Prior to this game, I haven’t been impressed with Maryland’s pass defense so I expected the Terps to struggle against Indiana’s air attack. Obviously that was my biggest mistake in thinking, but I’m not so sure that most of Indiana’s offensive struggles weren’t simply due to the Hoosiers, namely Sudfeld, having an off day.

Minnesota 30  Michigan 14   (Michigan -13.5)
I predicted Michigan to win, 20-8.
Geez, Michigan. It’s just hard to believe that a team wearing those iconic winged helmets could be this bad. And obviously I didn’t believe it. Everybody knew that Minnesota was going to try to run the ball yet the Wolverines couldn’t stop the Gophers ground game. And the offense continued to sputter despite making a change at QB. Personally, I think the timing for such a change – the conference opener- was ill-advised, but I’ll be the first to admit that “from the couch” is no position to question a big time college coach, regardless of how hot his seat might be. I don’t know what to make of this team, now. I still think they’ve got a decent performance in their gunnysack, particularly if regular starting QB Devin Gardner is re-inserted. But this team’s foundation is sure to become even more unstable as, at this point, it’s probably no longer a matter of “if”, but “when”,  as far as the coaching situation is concerned.
I knew there was a chance that Minnesota starting QB Mitch Leidner could return from an injury and start. But I didn’t expect him to be so mobile. They must have some potent pain-killers up north because I didn’t see much sign of a leg injury as he played one of his better games of the season.



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.

It was a great week for the gang as we combined for a 14-4 record. No one lost any more than 5 FTC dollars in “juice” money and six contestants came out ahead for the day. Braden Gall from Athlon had the biggest day with three winners and no losers, good enough to give him an early lead in the overall standings. In fact, most all of the contestants from Athlon had a good day. My Notre Dame win doesn’t count in this contest, but my Nebraska win with no losses leaves me in third place. It’s still early, though.

ATS  PLAY STANDINGS
LAST SATURDAY
TOTAL
FTC $
W
L
T
W
L
T
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
3
0
0
3
0
0
$150
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
2
0
0
2
0
0
$100
FROM THE COUCH
1
0
0
1
0
0
$50
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
1
0
0
2
1
0
$45
STATRAT (pubhole)
3
1
0
3
2
0
$40
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
0
0
0
0
0
0
$0
BRENT YARINA (btn)
1
0
0
1
1
0
-$5
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
1
1
0
1
1
0
-$5
TOM DEINHART (btn)
1
1
0
1
2
0
-$60
DAVID FOX (athlon)
1
1
0
1
3
0
-$115



DETAILS

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






SEASON STATS

If you’re not too fond of my seven point differential “play” system and prefer the increased amount of action that wagering on every game provides, then you might want to ride Mitch Light’s (Athlon) coat-tails because currently he has a 7-1 record in the “Spread” category. I’m not doing too bad myself at 6-1. As I said before, I personally think that wagering on a game that your prediction varies from the spread by only a few points is a roll of the dice. (There can be differences in the “win + loss” sums among the contestants in all categories except the “Within 7” category. There are various reasons why, but in this case it’s because my prediction of Indiana by three matched the game-day spread exactly, which made that game a “wash” in the “Spread” and “Closest” category).


SPREAD RECORD
W
L
STRAIGHT UP
W
L
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
7
1
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
6
2
FROM THE COUCH
6
1
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
6
2
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
6
2
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
6
2
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
5
3
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
6
2
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
5
3
FROM THE COUCH
5
3
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
4
4
STATRAT (pubhole)
5
3
STATRAT (pubhole)
4
4
DAVID FOX (athlon)
5
3
TOM DEINHART (btn)
4
4
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
5
3
BRENT YARINA (btn)
3
5
TOM DEINHART (btn)
4
4
DAVID FOX (athlon)
3
5
BRENT YARINA (btn)
3
5
WITHIN 7
W
L
CLOSEST
W
L
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
4
4
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
7
1
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
3
5
FROM THE COUCH
6
1
BRENT YARINA (btn)
3
5
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
5
3
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
3
5
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
5
3
FROM THE COUCH
2
6
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
4
4
STATRAT (pubhole)
2
6
STATRAT (pubhole)
4
4
TOM DEINHART (btn)
2
6
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
4
4
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
2
6
TOM DEINHART (btn)
3
5
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
2
6
DAVID FOX (athlon)
3
5
DAVID FOX (athlon)
1
7
BRENT YARINA (btn)
2
6


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 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 considered a tie when calculating the “closest” and “within 7” category. The actual score will be used, however, for the other two categories.


NOTRE DAME

I predict Notre Dame games along with the Big Ten conference games. Other than the occasions when Notre Dame plays a Big Ten team, these predictions aren’t included in the standings/comparisons as my competition doesn’t make predictions for Notre Dame vs non-Big Ten conference games. Listed below is my stats for Notre Dame games that aren’t included in the standings.

PLAYS
SPREAD RECORD
CLOSEST
WITHIN 7
STRAIGHT UP
W
L
T
W
L
W
L
W
L
W
L
1
0
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
1
0






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