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 15, 2014

BIG TEN FOOTBALL ATS PREDICTIONS WEEK 8


Another six games to look at this week.  Five conference games and one Notre Dame game. Two will most definitely be a play, and two more are possible, so this will be a big Saturday.
My current record: 4-1

CRYSTAL BALL 

WEEK OF 10-18-2014 

IOWA
35
MARYLAND
23
MINNESOTA
27
PURDUE
17
MICHIGAN ST
52
INDIANA
14
OHIO ST
34
RUTGERS
17
NEBRASKA
24
NORTHWEATERN
23
FLORIDA ST
35
NOTRE DAME
28

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
MARYLAND
7
14
17
23
IOWA
7
14
28
35

The opening line has Maryland favored in this one. I get apprehensive when the oddsmakers differ with my prediction by such a large amount. And I didn’t get to watch Iowa play last Saturday so I may be overlooking something.
But I did see Maryland play their last game – a blowout loss to Ohio St. The Buckeyes are good, but not so good that the Terps’ poor play should be overlooked. Maryland’s defense is weak, particularly against the pass. And QB C.J. Brown is a good runner, but average at best as a passer. I figure him for at least one interception.
I realize that Iowa has their problems on both sides of the ball, and there isn’t much credence in beating Indiana at home, particularly when the Hoosiers’ starting QB left the game early with an injury. But it appears that some of the QB controversy has been quelled and that Jake Rudock can play without the fear of a quick hook. I like Rudock and expect him to play well in this game. But the Iowa coaching staff tends to do some things that, from the couch, appear reckless. So I figure backup QB C.J. Beathard to be inserted into the game around the second quarter for a series or two, regardless of how Rudock is performing at the time. The switch might work out, but there’s a better chance for failure, I think. The Iowa defense has trouble defending the pass, but as I said, I’m not too worried about Brown’s passing abilities. Brown’s backup, Caleb Rowe, is a better passer, but then, he is a backup.
Iowa has a history of picking up steam as the season progresses and I don’t know what the oddsmakers see in Maryland. So I figure this game to be tied at halftime, but the Hawkeyes pull away in the second half behind a strong performance from Rudock and a not great but good enough running game.

1
2
3
Final
MINNESOTA
3
17
24
27
PURDUE
10
10
17
17

I think Minnesota will come out flat for this game. The Gophers’ schedule lays out in a way that made last Saturday’s victory against Northwestern to be pivotal to a successful season. Now all the Gophers have to do is beat two bottom dwelling teams and then they get a bye week heading into what appears to be the most challenging part of their schedule. I’m sure the Minnesota coaches are aware of Purdue’s recent improvement. But the 18 to 22 year old kids on the team look at the records and start to think about a 7-1 record heading into the bye week.
I’ll give Purdue HC Darrell Hazell credit. I thought Illinois HC Tim Beckman’s inaugural season was the worst I’d ever seen until Hazell’s performance last season. I was sure Hazell was following in Beckman’s footsteps. But much of the sloppiness that comes with a new coaching staff has been cleaned up in the last few weeks. The Boilermakers don’t have many victories to show for it, but the improvement is nonetheless noticeable. A big part of the recent upswing has been the insertion of Austin Abbleby at QB. His play and the win over Illinois has given this team the inspiration to keep fighting when something goes wrong, as was evidenced in last Saturday’s loss to Michigan St.
I see Purdue coming out inspired and jumping on the Gophers early, and to hold a lead at the end of the first quarter. But, although the Boilermakers are on the rise, they are not yet on the level Minnesota has risen to in the past couple of years. And the Minnesota coaching staff is excellent on game-day, so I don’t think they’ll panic. I figure the Gophers to eventually wake up and grind out a win as they overpower the Purdue defense with their running game.

1
2
3
Final
INDIANA
0
7
14
14
MICHIGAN ST
17
31
45
52

I figure Michigan St. will be flat in this game, but it won’t matter. I also believe Michigan St. isn’t as good as most people think, but it won’t matter.
Indiana lost their starting QB and will be giving a freshman - a converted linebacker - his first start at the position. Some pundits say he’s capable, but I’ll have to see it to believe it. If Indiana is going to win games, they must be strong at the QB position. This team has no fangs without its passing game because the defense is horrendous and the offense is designed to compensate by scoring quickly through the air.
Michigan St.’s defense is not living up to pre-season projections. I think last season’s success has taken some of the hunger out of not just the defense, but maybe the whole program, coaches and all. But it’s still a talented defense and should be more than adequate if Indiana’s offense is handcuffed in the way I’m projecting. The Spartans offense got off to a fast start this season and although QB Connor Cook is cooling off a bit, is still one of the best in the conference.
This is another game where I differ from the oddsmakers by a large amount, so maybe I’m underestimating Indiana’s freshman QB. But if not, I figure this to be a stat-padding day for the Spartans.

1
2
3
Final
OHIO ST
7
17
31
34
RUTGERS
0
7
10
17

Ohio St. has been recovering from losing starting QB Braxton Miller just before the season started. The Buckeyes excellent coaching staff has quickly molded freshman J.T. Barrett into a viable replacement, which has consequently restored the Buckeyes as one of the top teams in the conference.
Rutgers has exceeded expectations en route to a 5-1 record, but they’ve yet to play a team as talented as the Buckeyes. QB Gary Nova is on a roll, and the Scarlet Knights defense is, again, better than pre-season expectations.
I think the bye week for both teams favors the Buckeyes and, of course, so does the home field. I figure Rutgers brings their “A” game and plays admirably, but I believe they’re just simply outmatched in this game.

1
2
3
Final
N'RTHW'STERN
7
13
23
23
NEBRASKA
7
7
14
24

I was very close to calling for the Northwestern upset in this one. I don’t think Nebraska is as good as perceived and the Wildcats –most importantly QB Trevor Siemian - have been playing well lately. I also consider Northwestern to have the superior coaching staff, particularly as it pertains to game-day.
Nebraska will have problems with teams that can stop the run. In the early part of the season I wouldn’t have considered Northwestern capable. But in recent weeks the Northwestern defense has performed admirably against run heavy offenses. And they should be able to load the box as it has become common strategy to do so against Nebraska and will be until ‘Huskers QB Tommy Armstrong proves to be dangerous as a passer. Armstrong isn’t terrible, and he has the arm strength to burn a defense with the long pass, but I don’t consider him capable of consistently moving the chains with intermediate passes.
On the other hand, Northwestern has a QB who is very capable. And they seem to have found some hard running RB’s. And the defense ranks near the top of the conference.
Northwestern lost last Saturday, so they’re obviously not the best in the conference. And even though Nebraska has a conference loss as well, they are still considered by most to be among the top two or three teams in this conference. I would really like to pick Northwestern in this one, but ‘Huskers RB Ameer Abdullah is a beast and the Nebraska O-line/running game might just be the best the Wildcats will face. I figure this game to be very close, but the Wildcats’ bad luck continues as they botch or miss a game-winning field goal near the end of the game.

1
2
3
Final
FLORIDA ST
7
20
28
35
NOTRE DAME
0
14
21
28

I have to admit I don’t know as much about Florida St. as I’d like simply because I haven’t watched them as much as ND and the Big Ten teams. But from what I have seen, it appears from the couch that they can be beaten. But it’s also obvious they are good and that QB Jameis Winston is a game changer.
Two weeks ago I might have had this game close to a pick-‘em or even a Notre Dame win. But Notre Dame’s defensive performance against North Carolina last Saturday has raised some doubts. I do think the Irish were uninspired, but still, if they gave up 43 to the Tar Heels, how many will they give up to top ranked Florida St. and the reigning Heisman Trophy winner? I still believe in Irish QB Everett Golson, but lately he has been committing some critical turnovers. I think he’ll be focused enough for this game to not be careless with his passes, but he has always carried the ball too loosely when running, and I don’t think that’s gonna change.
But after saying all that, I have a strong hunch that Notre Dame will win this game. But then, I am an Irish fan so I have to guard against bias when making my predictions. So maybe I’m overcompensating, but I’m going to respect that the game is in Tallahassee against the reigning champions and call for Florida St. to win by a touchdown. But I’ll gladly take Notre Dame and fourteen points. And I might get the chance.



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 (conference games only) 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
FROM THE COUCH
0
0
0
3
1
0
$95
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
1
1
0
5
3
0
$85
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
0
2
0
3
2
0
$40
TOM DEINHART (btn)
0
0
0
3
2
0
$40
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
0
1
0
0
1
0
-$55
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
0
1
0
2
3
0
-$65
BRENT YARINA (btn)
0
2
0
1
5
0
-$225
DAVID FOX (athlon)
0
1
0
2
6
0
-$230
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
1
2
0
2
6
0
-$230
STAT RAT (pubhole)
0
3
0
3
7
0
-$235



SEASON STATS

SPREAD RECORD
W
L
STRAIGHT UP
W
L
TOM DEINHART (btn)
10
7
FROM THE COUCH
14
4
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
10
8
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
13
5
FROM THE COUCH
9
7
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
12
6
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
9
8
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
12
6
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
8
10
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
12
6
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
8
10
TOM DEINHART (btn)
11
7
STAT RAT (pubhole)
7
10
DAVID FOX (athlon)
11
7
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
6
11
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
11
7
BRENT YARINA (btn)
5
13
STAT RAT (pubhole)
10
8
DAVID FOX (athlon)
5
13
BRENT YARINA (btn)
9
9
WITHIN 7
W
L
CLOSEST
W
L
TOM DEINHART (btn)
8
10
FROM THE COUCH
9
7
FROM THE COUCH
7
11
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
9
8
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
6
12
TOM DEINHART (btn)
8
9
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
6
12
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
8
10
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
5
13
STAT RAT (pubhole)
7
10
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
5
13
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
7
11
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
5
13
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
6
11
STAT RAT (pubhole)
4
14
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
6
11
BRENT YARINA (btn)
4
14
DAVID FOX (athlon)
5
13
DAVID FOX (athlon)
3
15
BRENT YARINA (btn)
4
14


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 differential. 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 as the oddsmakers. 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 are 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
2
0
2
0
2
1
3
0





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