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, October 13, 2014

BIG TEN FOOTBALL ATS WHAT HAPPENED WEEK 7


WHAT HAPPENED

Like last week, a half a point cost me. But in a different way. The line on the Iowa-Indiana game was sitting at three points for most of the week, which would have qualified the game as a play and, as it turned out, a win. But on game-day the line jumped out to three and a half so I had to back off. None of my other predictions qualified, so I had no plays last Saturday. My predictions and pre-game comments can be found on my previous post, dated 10-8 (ATS Predictions - Week 7).
My Record:  4-1


THE NON-PLAYS
Wisconsin 38  Illinois 28   (Wisconsin -26)
I predicted Wisconsin to win, 49-21. Illinois scored a couple of garbage touchdowns in the fourth quarter to make this game appear closer than it really was, but even so, I’m still over-valuing Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin defense struggled –particularly early in the game – despite the fact that the Illini were playing their second string QB. And there were times when the Badgers O-line struggled to consistently open holes against possibly the worst rushing defense in the conference. RBs Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement put up big rushing yards, but most of those yards were the result of long yardage gashes on the occasions when the holes were there. It appears as though Joel Stave has won back the QB job, but it’s obvious his confidence is still shaken.
On the flip side, the Illini performed better than I thought they would, but not so much that I would change my general assessment of the team. They still can’t tackle. But their offense is respectable and the team still seems to be playing hard despite the losing streak and gloomy outlook.

Minnesota 24  Northwestern 17  (Minnesota -4)
I predicted Minnesota to win, 21-17. This was a good, hard fought game that went pretty much as I envisioned. I was close on the final score and spot-on with the halftime score.
I said in my prediction write-up that we would learn a lot about both of these teams from this game. I think what we learned is that the recent improvement these teams have shown is legitimate as opposed to an anomaly.
Northwestern QB Trevor Siemian is playing well, although he does miss open receivers at times. And the Wildcats defense has improved dramatically against the run.
Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner will never be called a great passer, but he’s throwing well enough to be effective in the Gophers offense. And HC Jerry Kill and his staff are proving to be exceptional game-day coaches.
Neither one of these teams is talented enough to have a “let-down” and win. But when they bring their best they should be considered a threat to any team in this conference.

Michigan St. 45  Purdue 31   (Michigan St. -21)
I predicted Michigan St. to win, 35-10. Obviously I underestimated Purdue’s offense. And Michigan St.’s defense.
I noticed the Boilermakers improving as early as the weekend before their victory over Illinois two Saturdays ago. I just figured they would be overmatched in this game and the aforementioned improvement would be insignificant. And to some degree, that was the case. But the Purdue offense and QB Austin Appleby performed much better than I expected. The defense, not so great. I figured it to be the other way around.
The Michigan St. defense really hasn’t lived up to expectations all season. But then, the expectations are lofty due to last season’s version. Consequently, the perception from last season’s defense makes me tend to overrate this season’s version. I’ll have to try and guard against that in the future. Another thing I’ll be considering is that QB Connor Cook seems to be leveling off a bit from his fast start. But with both those things in mind, I still have to give the Spartans a bit of a mulligan here. After a big win against Nebraska the Saturday before, there was probably a bit of a let-down in this game. Nonetheless, I think the Spartans are more vulnerable than most people think.

Michigan 18  Penn St. 13   (Michigan -2.5)
I predicted Michigan to win, 21-19. Pretty much as expected in this one; two struggling offenses slugging it out.
Michigan QB Devin Gardner threw the interception I predicted, but Penn St. QB Christian Hackenberg only obliged with one of the two I called for from him. Although the score wasn’t spot on, the table was set for Hackenberg to lead Penn St on the late scoring drive I predicted. But instead, the Nittany Lions went backwards, thus sealing the victory for the Wolverines.

Iowa 45  Indiana 29   (Iowa -3.5)
I predicted Iowa to win, 34-24. The “U” got me. It seems like every season ESPNU televises one or two Big Ten conference games. ESPNU isn’t included in my television package and I’m not gonna pay extra for only one or two football games. So, like most of the passive fans, I’m left with only the score, reports and statistics to analyze this game.
Although it didn’t happen in the exact time frame, my prediction of Iowa maintaining at least a one score lead throughout the game came to fruition. Iowa QB Jake Rudock played most all of the game and apparently played well enough to at least postpone the QB controversy that was brewing in Iowa City. But then, most offensive players perform well against Indiana’s defense.
Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld left the game with a season-ending injury, leaving the Hoosiers with a freshman to replace him. This is a huge blow to Indiana considering the Hoosier’s defense and pass-happy offense. Huge enough to say that they may not win another game this season.

Notre Dame 50  North Carolina 43   (Notre Dame -17)
I predicted Notre Dame to win, 41-24. I said in my prediction write-up that I expected Notre Dame to be flat (ATS Predictions - Week 7). But I also figured the North Carolina offense wouldn’t be able to keep up with the Irish offense on the scoreboard. Looks like I was wrong about that.
I predicted the Notre Dame defense would give up more points than they have in any other game so far, but I didn’t expect the Heels to hang 43 on ‘em. This was the best offense this Irish defense has faced by far, and Notre Dame probably was lacking some intensity given where this game lined up in the schedule (Stanford last Saturday, Florida St. this Saturday). But still, I have to downgrade my impression of this defense a bit, which up until last Saturday, was lofty. That having been said, I still think it’s a very good defense. Unusually poor tackling is one of the signs of a team that didn’t come ready to play. QB Everett Golson got off to a shaky start, but once again, did what was necessary to get the Irish the win. It is getting to the point, though, where I have to figure he’s gonna fumble at least once a game given the way he carries the football. The Irish running game showed some improvement, but this wasn’t a great defense they were facing. 



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.

As I said, I had no plays this week. But my inactivity has moved me up to first place as all of the other contestants except one lost ground (Tom Deinhart at BTN also had no plays). In fact, there were only two plays that landed in the win column this week; both of them were with Illinois to cover. Michigan St. and Northwestern were the most costly selections. It would have been nice if I’d have got to play that Iowa game. You may think, ‘why not play it anyway, it’s only half a point’.  And it’s true that half a point doesn’t often make much difference.  But I remember something I once read, I think it was pertaining to poker but it applies: Successful gambling requires confidence, patience, and self-control. Even though it cost me this time, I think of backing off in these instances as an exercise in self-control. I’m confident in my system as it pertains to the long run, and I have to draw the line somewhere. Accept a 6.5 differential now and eventually it will be 6, then 5.5 etc…

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



DETAILS

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






SEASON STATS

Tom Deinhart from BTN had the best week last Saturday as it pertains to these statistical categories. He was the only one to turn in an above .500 “Spread Record” performance (3-1) and now sits at the top of the category in the season totals. Four of his five predicted point differentials were within 7 points of the actual score differential, which vaulted him to the top of the “Within 7” category as well. And he joined me and Braden Gall from Athlon as the only contestants to correctly pick all five of the “Straight Up” winners. As you can see, I’m currently no lower than third in any category and sit at the top of two of these lists.


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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