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.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

BIG TEN FOOTBALL ATS PREDICTIONS WEEK 6


Another six games to look at this week.  Five conference games and one Notre Dame game. A lot of question marks concerning the QB position.
My current record: 2-0

CRYSTAL BALL

 WEEK OF 10-4-2014 

WISCONSIN
34
NORTHWESTERN
21
OHIO ST
42
MARYLAND
25
PURDUE
33
ILLINOIS
29
RUTGERS
24
MICHIGAN
14
MICHIGAN ST
35
NEBRASKA
25
NOTRE DAME
19
STANFORD
17

As I pointed out in previous posts, my method is to make my predictions on Sunday - before I look at the spreads - to keep from being influenced subconsciously. Any prediction that varies from the game time spread by seven or more points is considered a “play”. 50 FTC dollars will be wagered on each “play”. That’s the system. Seven points or more differential, play it; less than seven, back off. I do make one disclaimer: If a report comes out during the week (after Sunday) that there is an issue involving the starting quarterback (an injury I might not have known about) or the coach (health issues, scandal, etc.), I won’t count the game.  Occasionally I might predict a tie, which is the equivalent of a “pick em”. (For a more detailed description of what constitutes a “play”, see the “FTC $ Q&A” tab at the top of this post.)


1
2
3
Final
N'RTHW'STERN
7
7
14
21
WISCONSIN
7
17
24
34

Northwestern is coming off of their best performance of the season with a nice win at Penn St last Saturday. Prior to that game, they haven’t looked so good. I don’t think it’s coincidence that the same things can be said about starting QB Trevor Siemian. Like most college teams, Northwestern’s success, or lack of, starts with their QB. Which makes it difficult to predict how the Wildcats offense will perform because Siemian has been off and on, even during the Penn St. game. I’m going to expect him to play similar to the way he did last Saturday and lead the Wildcats to an average amount of points against an average Wisconsin defense. I don’t think the Northwestern defense will be as successful at stopping the Wisconsin running game, though. I think last week’s defensive success can be attributed to a poor Penn St. offense just as much, if not more, than a sudden improvement in the Wildcats defense.
I’m not sold on Wisconsin. At least not to the level that most are. But as I said, I’m not putting much stock into Northwestern’s improved defensive effort, either. I think Wisconsin will struggle against a team physical enough to stop the run, but I don’t think Northwestern is that kind of team. And I see that as the difference maker in this game.
I think this one will be close very early in the fourth quarter, but the Badgers wear down the Northwestern defense and score the game’s last ten points.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Wisconsin by 8, so there is a small chance that this game will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
MARYLAND
7
17
25
25
OHIO ST
7
21
35
42

Maryland is quietly putting together a season beyond my expectations. I’m not sure if Maryland QB C.J. Brown will available for this game as he injured his non-throwing wrist last Saturday at Indiana. His backup, Caleb Rowe, actually seemed to be a better passer. But any shortcomings Brown may have as a passer are offset by his dual-threat capabilities. Brown gives the Terps the best chance but I’m assuming he won’t be at full strength if he does play. And my impression of Rowe may be fool’s gold as most QB’s look good against Indiana’s defense. Not all defenses look good against Indiana’s offense, however, and Maryland shut the Hoosiers down. But I can’t get the Terps’ game against West Virginia out of my mind. The defense was torched repeatedly in that game and I think Ohio St is comparable, on a talent level, with West Virginia.
With the exception of Kent St., Ohio St. has struggled in every game they’ve played this season. Losing regular starting QB Braxton Miller for the season was a huge blow that has knocked the Buckeyes down a few notches from preseason expectations. Miller’s replacement, J.T. Barrett, is improving each week, but he’s still young and learning. I think he’ll be fine in this game, though, because I don’t think he’ll be heavily relied on. The Buckeyes should have enough talent to run on the Terps and open up some passing lanes if necessary. The Buckeyes defense has been struggling a bit this season but, given Maryland’s QB situation, should be good enough to hold serve as I think the offense will be successful.
Even though they’re on the road, I think the talent level of both the team and HC Urban Meyer will get the Buckeyes the win, but this one will be fairly competitive until late in the game.
As of the date of this post, there is no line due to the uncertainty of Brown’s injury, so this game may not be counted in the contest.

1
2
3
Final
ILLINOIS
7
14
21
29
PURDUE
7
20
26
33

Indiana may eventually prove me wrong, but it appears as though this is a battle between the two worst teams in the league. Ever since their most recent coaching change, both teams have been a comedy of errors complete with excessive penalties and turnovers.
Illinois’ strength, if it has one, is in its offense. They do have some talent at certain positions, and I think QB Wes Lunt is good, but not as good as some of the accolades he’s drawing from the media would indicate. Illinois’ defense is terrible.
Purdue has actually shown some improvement in the last couple of weeks. Enough for me to think they’ll get the road win, here. The defense stood up to a superior Iowa team last Saturday until the Hawkeye’s running game eventually wore the Boilers down in the second half. I don’t think the defense will wear down against the Illini. And although the offense didn’t score, they showed some signs of life; especially early in the game.
Illinois’ offense has been the strongest facet among both teams’ offense and defense going back to the beginning of last season. And that offense may be enough to get the Illini a win, but I don’t think so. I like what I’ve seen out of the Boilermakers recently and think they may be turning a corner.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Illinois by 10, so this game will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
RUTGERS
7
14
17
24
MICHIGAN
7
14
14
14

So much to consider with Michigan. Are they capable or not? I have to think they have top recruits, so they must have some talent. But they’ve yet to show anything beyond mediocrity on the field. Then there’s the QB situation; is Devin Gardner reinstated as the full time starter? If so, how will he react to having been benched?  And then the coaching situation. The general consensus at this point is that HC Brady Hoke is a lame duck. Players react to this in different ways. Sometimes they rally behind their coach, but they also know that if they have any differences with the coaching staff, support for mutiny can easily be found from the fans. And to make matters worse, the blood-thirsty media has been over- scrutinizing HC Brady Hoke’s handling of an injured player.
I don’t see Michigan suddenly getting better, but I have a feeling that Gardner will turn in a strong performance if he is reinstated as the starter. I think he’ll feel he’s in a “nothing left to lose” situation and consequently will feel relieved of any pressure he may have been feeling and play with abandon. But at this point, it’s not even clear if he will start. But even if he does, I can’t keep making the mistake of assuming Michigan is the superior team just because they’re Michigan.
Rutgers has been the surprise team so far. They’ve lost their best RB but they still continue to take care of business. The competition hasn’t been great, but it’s also not a list of “cupcakes”. They played Penn St. close in front of an enthusiastic home crowd. I think Penn St. and Michigan are comparable in regards to “level of competition” and I expect the Rutgers fans to be just as enthusiastic. QB Gary Nova had five turnovers in the Penn St. game, but I don’t think lightning will strike twice and expect him to protect the football better this Saturday.
I think this game will be close, but given the direction these two programs are heading, I like Rutgers to win by ten with a clinching/“garbage” touchdown very late in the game after stopping the Wolverines on downs in their own territory.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Rutgers by 3, so it is very possible that this game will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
MICHIGAN ST
7
14
28
35
NEBRASKA
0
17
17
25

Michigan St. is considered to be the best in the conference at this point, and while I agree with that, I think they will suffer at least one conference loss this season. But not in this game. QB Connor Cook is much better than I gave him credit for in the pre-season. And due in large part to Cook, the Spartan offense is putting up some big numbers. I don’t expect them to hit their fifty point average, and I do think Cook will throw an interception in this game, but the Spartans should still have a decent amount of success against a mediocre Nebraska defense.
Nebraska has been putting up some gaudy offensive numbers themselves, due in large part to RB Ameer Abdullah and a solid O-line. But I think the difference in this game will be QB Tommy Armstrong. And not in a good way. While Michigan St. may not be as good defensively as they were last year, I believe they have enough size and talent to stop the ‘Huskers’ rushing attack if they load the box. Doing so will essentially dare Nebraska to throw and I don’t think Armstrong will be successful. Nebraska fans are enamored with Armstrong’s passing game so far, but this ain’t Fresno St.’s defense the ‘Huskers are facing.
I’m calling for at least two Armstrong interceptions and for the Spartans to be up by more than two touchdowns early in the fourth quarter.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Michigan St. by 7, so it is unlikely that this game will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
NOTRE DAME
3
9
16
19
STANFORD
3
10
17
17

Notre Dame hasn’t really been tested yet; Stanford lost to USC. Stanford struggled to beat Washington last Saturday, but how good Washington is I’m not yet sure. This Stanford team is typical of the identity The Cardinal has established in recent years – a reliance on a strong defense and a methodical offense. QB Kevin Hogan is good and experienced but the running game hasn’t been as successful as in recent years.
The Notre Dame defense has been playing well so far, so I’m figuring the Irish to keep the Stanford score reasonably low.  But on the flip-side I think the Irish offense will have some difficulties against a very good Stanford defense. But I think they will find a modest amount of success in the passing game. Notre Dame QB Everett Golson has been throwing darts this season. And if continues to be accurate, his arm strength can make the intermediate curls and crossing patterns nearly impossible to defend. The passes will be more difficult to complete in the red zone, however, and I’m not impressed with the Irish running game, so I figure the Irish will have to settle for field goal attempts on more than a few occasions.
This is a tough one to call and could go either way. But unless Golson gets knocked out of the game, I like the Irish at home with a late fourth quarter field goal to close out the scoring.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Stanford by 1.5, so there is virtually no chance that this game will qualify as a play.



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.

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



 SEASON STATS 


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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