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 22, 2014

BIG TEN FOOTBALL ATS PREDICTIONS WEEK 9


Five conference games to look at this week. One will definitely be a play, one will most likely be a play, and it’s very possible a third game will qualify. Notre Dame is off this week.
My current record: 5-2

CRYSTAL BALL

WEEK OF 10-25-2014 

MICHIGAN ST
31
MICHIGAN
17
NEBRASKA
38
RUTGERS
17
WISCONSIN
38
MARYLAND
35
MINNESOTA
31
ILLINOIS
14
OHIO ST
42
PENN ST
10

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
MICHIGAN ST
0
10
17
31
MICHIGAN 
10
10
10
17

I give the “motivation” edge to Michigan in this game. The Wolverines have had an extra week to prepare and are coming off a much needed win. A win in this game could partially salvage a season that’s already been labeled unsuccessful.
Michigan St. has always had this game circled, especially since Mark Dantonio became the HC. But like most teams that have enjoyed exceptional success in the previous season, the Spartans seem to be lacking the hunger, or “chip-on-the-shoulder” that inspired the past success. And the kids on the team are aware that Michigan is struggling this season. Besides, they’ve got bigger fish to fry on November 8.
Therefore, I see the Wolverines dominating the first quarter. Then the Spartans realize they’re in for a battle and claw their way back to victory, but it takes most of the game to put the Wolverines away. I figure this to be a hard-hitting game and look for both QBs to throw two interceptions. I’d call for this game to be much closer, but the Michigan offense has struggled most of the season and I think they’ll have trouble finding the end-zone. And I also give the “coaching” edge to Michigan St.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Michigan St. by 17, so it is unlikely that this game will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
NEBRASKA
7
17
31
38
RUTGERS
7
10
10
17

Nebraska is coming off a nice win last Saturday at Northwestern. QB Tommy Armstrong turned in what I consider to be his best passing performance (factoring in the level of competition). Rutgers is coming off a blow-out loss at Ohio St.
I think Rutgers will make a better showing in this game but, like last Saturday, will be outmatched.
I don’t think Nebraska will be flat, but I don’t think they’ll be all that fired-up either. Just business as usual; which should be good enough to get the win against a weaker opponent. One thing that concerns me, though. I haven’t been “Pelini’d” yet. The ‘Huskers have yet to suffer their annual head-scratching loss to an inferior opponent. I never know when it’s going to happen, but I do know it’s happened every season Nebraska has been in the conference. It doesn’t look like this game is gonna qualify as a play so it would actually be best for me if it happened in this game. Get it out of the way.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Nebraska by 17.5, so it is unlikely that this game will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
WISCONSIN
7
17
31
38
MARYLAND
7
21
21
35

I don’t think either one of these teams is very good defensively.
Wisconsin is coming off a bye week which may give QB Joel Stave time to settle in as the starter. He’s better than Tanner McEvoy, but even after the switch, Wisconsin has been shaky at the position. Wisconsin’s O-line hasn’t been consistent, but it won’t have to be against this defense. If the line can create an opening only a few times, RB Melvin Gordon, and Corey Clement for that matter, can tear off huge chunks of yardage if not a touchdown.
Maryland’s offense is dependent on QB C.J. Brown. He’s erratic as a passer- I have to figure him for an interception – but great as a runner. And even though he can be way off target at times, I wouldn’t say he’s incapable of completing some nice passes to some dangerous receivers, so the opposing defense still has to respect the pass. Brown is prone to injury, though, and he did get banged up and leave the game for a series or two last Saturday. His backup played well enough, though.
Maryland burned me last Saturday as I predicted against them. Sometimes, in the following week, I tend to overrate the team that just burned me. And Wisconsin is a tough place to visit. But still, I think this Wisconsin team is not as good as most might think, and that this game will be closer than expected. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if Maryland won. But even though I don’t think much of either defense, I believe Maryland’s is the worst of the two. Badgers in a touchdown-fest.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Wisconsin by 10.5, so there is a good chance that this game will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
ILLINOIS
0
7
7
14
MINNESOTA
7
17
31
31

I’m assuming Illinois will use two QBs in this game as regular starter Wes Lunt is out for the season. Sophomore Aaron Bailey, who is considered to be a top prospect, saw some “mop-up” action in the Illini’s previous game. He appears to be good with his legs but weak as a passer. Senior Reilly O’Toole isn’t as good with his feet, but he’s no slouch either. And from the couch he appears to be the better passer and the better choice as the starter for this game. But the Illini have already lost with O’Toole and are to a point in the season where they haven’t much to lose by making a change and have something to gain by giving the underclassman some experience. At any rate, I think juggling between the two may hamper the Illini’s offense a bit. And the offense is their strength. The defense is terrible, particularly against the run.
And Minnesota likes to run. The Gophers got a scare last Saturday against Purdue. If they hadn’t, I would consider this a prime spot for a letdown. But I think they will come in with focus and take care of business.
The opening line on this game was less than a touchdown. As usual, I don’t think Illinois will stop the run. I don’t know who would, so I’m guessing the oddsmakers figure Illinois to do some damage offensively. Maybe, but not enough to stay within seven points of what the Illini defense will give up.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Minnesota by 6.5, so this game will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
PENN ST
0
3
10
10
OHIO ST
14
28
35
42

I realize this game is at Penn St. and the Nittany Lions have had an extra week to prepare, but I think this will be a thumping.
I suppose the Penn St. offense has to improve at some point, and it would make sense that after a bye week would be the time. But until I see otherwise, I’m gonna assume the same ol’ vanilla scheme, weak offensive line, and a QB who’s prone to throwing interceptions – I’m calling for three in this game. The Penn St. defense is ranked sixth in the nation in points allowed, but they haven’t faced an opponent like what they’ll see this Saturday. And I expect ‘em to get a good long look as their anemic offense keeps them on the field for most of the game.
The Buckeyes are on a roll. QB J.T. Barrett has morphed into a complete QB and is now considered among the best in the conference. Ohio St. is just well coached and that’s showing up in every facet of their game. I realize the Buckeyes haven’t played the toughest schedule, but the way they are winning is impressive. They probably won’t keep it up for every game, but right now they’re playing with a “take no prisoners” mentality and I expect to see the same this Saturday.
The opening line on this game was 13 points. I think Ohio St. covers that number in the first quarter and Penn St. doesn’t cross the goal line until the fourth quarter.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Ohio St. by 14, so 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 (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
1
1
0
4
2
0
$90
TOM DEINHART (btn)
2
1
0
5
3
0
$85
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
1
0
0
1
1
0
-$5
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
0
1
0
3
3
0
-$15
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
0
2
0
5
5
0
-$25
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
0
0
0
2
3
0
-$65
DAVID FOX (athlon)
2
0
0
4
6
0
-$130
BRENT YARINA (btn)
2
1
0
3
6
0
-$180
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
2
1
0
4
7
0
-$185
STAT RAT (pubhole)
1
0
0
4
7
0
-$185



SEASON STATS

SPREAD RECORD
W
L
STRAIGHT UP
W
L
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
13
9
FROM THE COUCH
18
5
TOM DEINHART (btn)
12
10
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
17
6
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
12
11
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
17
6
FROM THE COUCH
11
10
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
17
6
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
11
12
DAVID FOX (athlon)
16
7
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
10
13
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
16
7
STAT RAT (pubhole)
9
13
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
16
7
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
8
14
STAT RAT (pubhole)
15
8
BRENT YARINA (btn)
8
15
TOM DEINHART (btn)
15
8
DAVID FOX (athlon)
8
15
BRENT YARINA (btn)
14
9
WITHIN 7
W
L
CLOSEST
W
L
TOM DEINHART (btn)
10
13
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
13
9
FROM THE COUCH
8
15
FROM THE COUCH
11
10
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
8
15
TOM DEINHART (btn)
10
12
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
8
15
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
10
13
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
8
15
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
9
13
BRENT YARINA (btn)
6
17
STAT RAT (pubhole)
9
13
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
6
17
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
9
14
STAT RAT (pubhole)
5
18
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
8
14
DAVID FOX (athlon)
5
18
DAVID FOX (athlon)
8
15
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
5
18
BRENT YARINA (btn)
7
16


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
3
0
3
0
3
1
4
0





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