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, November 12, 2014

BIG TEN FOOTBALL ATS PREDICTIONS WEEK 12


Six games to look at this week. Five conference games and a Notre Dame game against a Big Ten opponent, so all six games will be included in the standings. Looks like I’ll have one play for sure, and a couple more that are possible.
My current record: 7-7


CRYSTAL BALL 

WEEK OF 11-15-2014

OHIO ST
28
MINNESOTA
13
RUTGERS
27
INDIANA
21
NEBRASKA
21
WISCONSIN
19
IOWA
38
ILLINOIS
35
NOTRE DAME
38
NORTHWESTERN
14
MICHIGAN ST
45
MARYLAND
14

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
MINNESOTA
10
10
10
13
OHIO ST
0
7
21
28

Both teams are coming off big wins so both are susceptible to a letdown. I don’t think Minnesota will let down against an opponent like Ohio St. But I do think Ohio St. will be flat. Minnesota knows it still has work to do, especially with the conference loss against Illinois on their record. Ohio St., on the other hand,  might feel as though they’ve gotten past most of the heavy lifting with last Saturday’s victory against preseason favorite Michigan St. The Buckeyes game was higher profile, too, which means the Ohio St. players will be reliving last Saturday’s game with fans and media throughout the week, thus distracting focus on the Gophers.
I don’t think game-day preparation/strategy will be a problem, though. Ohio St. HC Urban Meyer understands the spot his team is in right now – he won’t be flat. But even the best of coaches sometimes can’t motivate a distracted team.
Therefore, I see Minnesota scoring on their first drive and getting enough stops against an uncharacteristically mistake prone Ohio St. offense to take a lead into the half. But I also think the Ohio St. defense, inspired or not, will play well enough to keep Minnesota’s scoring down throughout the game. Eventually the Ohio St. offense comes alive for a couple of scoring drives in the third quarter and adds another touchdown in the fourth to secure the victory.
I look for Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner to throw two interceptions in this game. Minnesota’s passing game has improved, but in this game he’ll be put in obvious passing situations so he’ll be throwing to tighter windows than he’s used to. And I don’t mean to imply that the Buckeyes will be so flat that they’ll play terrible, I just think they’ll get a slow start and maybe commit a few more unforced penalties than usual.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Ohio St. by 12, so it is unlikely that this game will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
RUTGERS
7
17
27
27
INDIANA
7
14
21
21

Indiana QB Zander Diamont showed signs of improvement in the passing game last Saturday. Not that he did anything great, mind you - he did throw two interceptions. But considering the Hoosiers had virtually no passing game at all since Zander replaced injured starter Nate Sudfeld three games ago, it was a step forward to see the Indiana coaching staff feel comfortable enough with Zander to at least attempt some downfield throws. Anyway, he seems to be progressing. So for this reason I figure Indiana to turn in their highest point total since Zander took over. But I don’t think that will be enough to win the game.
Rutgers QB Gary Nova should be mostly healed from an injury that’s recently been nagging him and the home field should give the Scarlet Knights an edge. And Rutgers conference schedule hasn’t been favorable so this is one of the few games that are winnable. Which may be a motivation advantage, but then, I suppose the same thing could be said about Indiana.
Bottom line I think Rutgers is the better team, but not by much. This should be a good matchup – neither team is very good.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Rutgers by 7.5, so there is virtually no chance that this game will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
WISCONSIN
3
13
19
19
NEBRASKA
7
14
21
21

I don’t like to make any changes once I’ve gone through the process of handicapping a game. I’ve learned that doing so usually doesn’t work out in my favor. But I’ll admit, my score does seem low. But then, Wisconsin’s defense is rated among the best in the nation. And although Wisconsin’s offense has finally found a passing game and has been putting up some big numbers lately, I have to consider the fact that those stats have been padded against some pretty bad defenses. Nebraska’s defense isn’t great, but it ain’t bad, either.
I really think Nebraska has the better team and that’s the only reason I’m picking them to win this game. In fact, I think they’re much better. Well, about two touchdowns better, anyway. But there’re so many reasons why they may not win. I think Wisconsin HC Gary Anderson is a good, but not great coach. Nebraska HC Bo Pelini is good too, but he and his staff struggle on game day. Sometimes - not always - they don’t bring the right game plan. Another concern is that Wisconsin is hot right now, and even though Nebraska is still winning comfortably, the Huskers don’t seem to be clicking like they were a few weeks ago. Nebraska’s star RB Ameer Abdullah is reported to be fully recovered from an injury, but I’ve yet to see him play since the injury occurred. Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong showed significant improvement in his intermediate passing game, but has recently regressed. He has to be sharp and under two turnovers in this game. And one of the biggest concerns is that the game is at Camp Randall. The Badgers rarely lose at home.
I know, I know. A long list of reasons/concerns. Probably why Wisconsin is favored by a touchdown. But as I said, I think Nebraska is better and if Pelini’s coaching staff doesn’t screw it up, they should be able to win this game.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Wisconsin by 6.5, so there is a good chance that this game will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
ILLINOIS
7
14
21
35
IOWA
14
17
24
38

I’ve been wrong about Iowa often this season. But then, so has most everyone else. The Hawkeyes have been up and down in a dramatic way the past four weeks. They came off a 41 point victory two Saturdays ago and followed it up with a 37 point loss. From here on out, I’m gonna stick with the assessment that this team isn’t very good. Not terrible, just not very good. The Northwestern victory had me thinking the Hawkeyes may have turned a corner, but apparently not.
Illinois has been a bad team for years now but their recent victory over Minnesota shows that they can be at least capable at home.
Other than the Minnesota game, the Illinois defense has been terrible, especially against the run. Iowa’s offense isn’t very good either, but should be good enough against this defense to have the same type of success they had against Northwestern.
Iowa’s defense is slow and doesn’t tackle very well. Illinois’ strength, if they have one, is their offense. I see the Illini trading scores with the Hawkeyes to the end.
At the beginning of the season I would have figured this as an easy victory for Iowa. And if the pattern continues, they’ll bounce back from last week’s loss. But I don’t think they bounce back strong. Iowa by only a field goal.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Iowa by3.5, so there is virtually no chance that this game will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
NOTRE DAME
17
24
24
38
N'RTHW'STERN
0
7
14
14

Notre Dame is coming off a deflating loss. Northwestern is coming off a disappointing loss, too. Even though the Wildcats’ loss came down to the last play of the game, I don’t think they’ll be affected as much as the Irish will be. Northwestern’s season already crossed the “unsuccessful” line a couple of weeks ago. A win against Notre Dame would ease the pain.
Although Notre Dame might not be inspired by their opponent, I think they’ll be motivated to some degree to get back into the win column. And I also think QB Everett Golson will want to redeem himself for the turnovers he committed last week. And, most importantly, I think Notre Dame is the much better team right now. Northwestern seems to be spiraling downward after hitting a plateau earlier in the season when they beat a good Wisconsin team. I don’t know why, but they’ve morphed into a team that’s not very good right now.
It’s hard to tell with college kids when a team might turn things around dramatically in just one game. This season has reiterated that point. But I’m going to figure this particular game to go true to form and say the Irish jump out to an early lead and cruise to victory.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Notre Dame by 18, so it is very possible that this game will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
MARYLAND
0
7
14
14
MICHIGAN ST
14
28
38
45

Speaking of deflating losses…. Michigan St. has to be depressed after last Saturday’s loss. After nearly a year as conference “King of the Hill” they now find themselves without any hope of attaining the lofty goals they had coming into the season. I suppose that could affect their play in this game, especially early on, but I do think they are the superior team by far so I don’t believe it will make much difference.
Maryland hasn’t done very well against the upper echelon of the conference – Ohio St. and Wisconsin trounced the Terrapins. And Michigan St. is certainly upper echelon. Maryland’s defense isn’t very good, the Michigan St. offense is. Maryland’s offense is sometimes good depending on how accurate QB J.C. Brown is with his passes. Brown can be a good passer at times, but for the most part he’s not very accurate. Brown’s strength is as a runner and his ability to make good plays out of bad when he escapes from the pocket under heavy pressure. But I don’t think he’ll escape from the Michigan St. defenders.
We saw last Saturday, and really for most of the season, that the Spartans’ defense isn’t as good as was projected in the preseason. But that’s not to say that they have a bad defense, either. They’re certainly good enough to handle the Terrapins in the same way Ohio St. and Wisconsin did. I think they’ll send pressure after Brown and force him into at least two interceptions. And if Maryland doesn’t hang on to the ball for very long, the Spartans offense, uninspired or not, should have no trouble putting up a big number against a weak Maryland defense.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Michigan St. by 12.5, 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
TOM DEINHART (btn)
1
1
0
10
6
0
$170
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
0
1
0
5
4
0
$30
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
0
0
0
6
5
0
$25
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
1
0
0
4
5
0
-$75
FROM THE COUCH
1
2
0
6
7
0
-$85
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
0
0
0
7
8
0
-$90
STAT RAT (pubhole)
0
0
0
7
9
0
-$145
BRENT YARINA (btn)
1
1
0
6
9
0
-$195
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
0
2
0
1
5
0
-$225
DAVID FOX (athlon)
0
0
0
7
11
0
-$255




SEASON STATS


SPREAD RECORD
W
L
STRAIGHT UP
W
L
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
22
16
FROM THE COUCH
29
9
TOM DEINHART (btn)
21
16
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
29
10
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
19
20
TOM DEINHART (btn)
29
10
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
19
20
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
29
10
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
19
20
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
28
11
FROM THE COUCH
16
21
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
28
11
STAT RAT (pubhole)
15
22
DAVID FOX (athlon)
27
12
BRENT YARINA (btn)
14
24
STAT RAT (pubhole)
26
13
DAVID FOX (athlon)
14
24
BRENT YARINA (btn)
26
13
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
14
24
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
26
13
WITHIN 7
W
L
CLOSEST
W
L
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
14
25
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
17
21
TOM DEINHART (btn)
14
25
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
16
23
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
13
26
TOM DEINHART (btn)
15
22
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
13
26
FROM THE COUCH
14
22
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
13
26
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
14
24
FROM THE COUCH
12
27
DAVID FOX (athlon)
13
25
STAT RAT (pubhole)
11
28
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
13
25
BRENT YARINA (btn)
11
28
STAT RAT (pubhole)
12
25
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
11
28
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
12
26
DAVID FOX (athlon)
10
29
BRENT YARINA (btn)
11
26


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
2
3
2
3
3
5
1




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