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.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

BIG TEN FOOTBALL ATS WEEK 14 PREDICTIONS


Eight rivalry games to look at this week. Seven conference games and a Notre Dame game. Rivalry weekend is always a cool way to close out the season. And as it turns out this season, most of the games are good matchups, so should be fun to watch. Looks like I’ll only have one play, maybe two.
My current record: 10-9

CRYSTAL BALL 

WEEK OF 11-29-2014 

IOWA
28
NEBRASKA
25
NORTHWESTERN
20
ILLINOIS
17
INDIANA
38
PURDUE
33
OHIO ST
27
MICHIGAN
10
MICHIGAN ST
28
PENN ST
6
WISCONSIN
27
MINNESOTA
17
MARYLAND
31
RUTGERS
24
USC
31
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
IOWA
7
14
21
28
NEBRASKA
0
7
17
25

Both teams enter this game out of contention for the division title. Both teams entered the season with legitimate aspirations to win the division.
Iowa has been the most difficult team in the conference to figure out. They’ve played horribly on some Saturdays and have played well on others. They played well two Saturdays ago and, although they lost, played well last Saturday against a hot Wisconsin team. QB Jake Rudock is coming off a strong performance, and the O-Line and the defense has improved since the early part of the season. The receivers still tend to drop a lot of passes, though.
Nebraska is coming off two disappointing losses which I believe have them a bit shaken and unsure of themselves. QB Tommy Armstrong has struggled for most of the season as a passer, but didn’t throw all that bad in last Saturday’s loss to Minnesota. RB Ameer Abdullah appears to be healthy and the Nebraska running game seems to be in good shape despite some injuries on the O-line. But the Nebraska defense has struggled against the run recently and I expect that to continue this Saturday.
This game could go either way, especially considering that Iowa is involved. I expect both QBs to throw an interception and both offenses to have some success on the ground. I don’t have near as much respect for Iowa HC Kirk Ferentz as I did in the past, but I still think Iowa has the better coaching staff in this game. I think that and Kinnick Field will be the difference, here.
As of the date of this post, the line sits as a pick ‘em, so it is unlikely that this game will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
N'RTHW'STERN
7
10
20
20
ILLINOIS
3
17
17
17

Northwestern QB Trevor Siemian is lost for the season. The Wildcats, like Iowa, are another team that’s been tough to figure this year. But while Iowa has been up and down from one week to the next, Northwestern has been streaky over the course of the season. They were terrible the first few games, then they were great for a few games, back to terrible for a few, and now they’re playing good again. Losing Siemian hurts, though.
Illinois, for the most part, hasn’t been very good this season. But they are coming off a nice win so they have some momentum. And I will say they’re playing better right now than they have all season. That is, when Reilly O’Toole is at QB as opposed to Wes Lunt.
I think Northwestern is the better team, but anything can happen in a rivalry game and without Siemian, I believe this game will be close. I think the Cats will overcome the loss of their starting QB, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Illini win this game.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Northwestern by 8.5, so there is a small chance that this game will qualify as a play. 

1
2
3
Final
INDIANA
14
21
31
38
PURDUE
14
20
27
33

This is one of many great rivalry matchups this Saturday that could go either way. Prior to last week I probably would have predicted Purdue to win this game. But after Indiana’s strong showing last Saturday against Ohio St. and Purdue’s blowout loss at home, I’m going with Indiana.
Neither team has much of an advantage in any phase of the game. Purdue has a bit of an edge at QB with Austin Appleby, but Indiana QB Zander Diamont has been improving each week. Indiana has an edge at RB with Tevin Coleman, but Purdue has a couple of underrated speedy backs. Both defenses are among the worst in the nation, but have shown recent improvement.
I expect a shootout, and although I don’t rate Indiana HC Kevin Wilson much higher than Purdue HC Darell Hazell as an overall coach, I do like Wilson better as a game-day play caller. So I give Indiana the slight edge in this one.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Indiana by 2.5, so it is unlikely that this game will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
OHIO ST
10
17
24
27
MICHIGAN
7
7
10
10

I always look forward to this game for nostalgic reasons. I saw my first OSU-Michigan game when I was a kid and haven’t missed one since.
On paper, this is a mismatch. Ohio St. is in contention for a shot at a national title and Michigan’s season has been so disappointing that their HC will probably be fired after this game. But then, this game was just as much of a mismatch last season and the outcome wasn’t decided until the last play. In fact, this rivalry game is riddled with major upsets throughout its history, so I’m not about to say it can’t happen again on Saturday. But other than the aforementioned history, there’s really nothing to support predicting a Michigan victory. But I am relying on the aforementioned history to say that this game will be closer than what the season’s statistics would suggest.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Ohio St. by 21, so it is unlikely that this game will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
PENN ST
0
6
6
6
MICHIGAN ST
5
12
19
28

This is a “kinda, sorta” rivalry. These teams used to close the season against each other before Nebraska joined and the conference was split into two divisions. Though not very deep in history, the series has produced some unexpected results in the past.
I could be wrong, but I don’t think this game is approached by either team with the same intensity as the other rivalry matchups on this Saturday’s conference schedule. And neither team has much to attain that hasn’t already been attained. It’s a long season, so without any added motivation I think the kids on both teams won’t necessarily be flat, but will play loose, have some fun, and will be looking forward to a nice break after this game. Advantage/disadvantage nobody.
Michigan St. is the better team, Penn St.’s offense is horrible but their defense is good, so I’m going with a relatively low score for both teams. Which could be a mistake given my above comments. The offenses usually score more points toward the end of the season, particularly if they play loose. But I just can’t see Penn St. scoring much against the Spartans.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Michigan St. by 13, so there is a good chance that this game will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
WISCONSIN
7
17
17
27
MINNESOTA
0
3
10
17

A division title on the line in this game.
I think Wisconsin has the better players, but Minnesota has an excellent game-day coaching staff – they don’t make many mistakes in their play calling.
I’m not sure if I’d take Minnesota if the Gophers were playing at home, but I know I’d consider it to be a closer game. And I’m not saying a Minnesota road win this Saturday is out of the question. But I think a game with this kind of significance at a venue like Camp Randall is territory that will be too unfamiliar for the Minnesota players -maybe a touch of “deer in the headlights”. Minnesota will have to maintain through any adverse moments or this game could snowball into a Wisconsin rout.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Wisconsin by 14, so it is unlikely that this game will qualify as a play. 

1
2
3
Final
MARYLAND
7
17
31
31
RUTGERS
7
10
10
24

This rivalry hasn’t been established but it’s a natural. The two newbies from the east.
Maryland seems to be the hotter team right now. Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say that Rutgers seems to be the colder team right now. But the schedule has a lot to do with both statements.
I think Maryland has more talent on offense and expect the Terps to take the lead early in the second quarter and maintain it throughout the game.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Maryland by 8, so there is virtually no chance that this game will qualify as a play. 

1
2
3
Final
USC
7
17
24
31
NOTRE DAME
7
14
21
28

Notre Dame is limping to the finish line this season after a strong start. Playing at the Coliseum has always been a tough task for the Irish and this Saturday’s game will be no different. The Irish defense has been decimated by injuries and has been struggling lately, to say the least. QB Everett Golson has cooled off some from his hot start of the season, and has fallen under heavy criticism for the amount of turnovers he’s been committing.
Of course, with the recent losses, Notre Dame fans want to hang the HC, QB, and leprechaun, but all criticism aside, I think Brian Kelly is a much better coach than USC’s HC, Steve Sarkisian. If Notre Dame gets out of their funk and brings their “A” game, I think they can beat this USC team. But lately Notre Dame’s confidence has been shaken to the point where successfully executing an extra-point is an unstable proposition. As an Irish fan, I hope I’m wrong, but I think USC wins this one.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at USC by 7, so it is unlikely 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 (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)
2
1
0
12
8
0
$160
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
0
0
0
7
4
0
$130
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
0
0
0
7
5
0
$75
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
3
1
0
7
7
0
-$35
BRENT YARINA (btn)
1
0
0
9
9
0
-$45
FROM THE COUCH
2
1
0
9
9
0
-$45
STAT RAT (pubhole)
0
0
0
7
10
0
-$200
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
2
2
0
5
9
0
-$245
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
1
2
0
8
12
0
-$260
DAVID FOX (athlon)
1
1
0
9
15
0
-$375


 SEASON STATS 

SPREAD RECORD
W
L
STRAIGHT UP
W
L
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
30
21
FROM THE COUCH
38
12
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
27
25
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
38
14
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
27
25
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
37
15
TOM DEINHART (btn)
25
25
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
37
15
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
24
27
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
37
15
BRENT YARINA (btn)
21
29
TOM DEINHART (btn)
36
16
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
21
29
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
36
16
FROM THE COUCH
20
30
BRENT YARINA (btn)
35
17
DAVID FOX (athlon)
20
31
STAT RAT (pubhole)
34
18
STAT RAT (pubhole)
19
29
DAVID FOX (athlon)
34
18
WITHIN 7
W
L
CLOSEST
W
L
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
19
33
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
25
26
TOM DEINHART (btn)
16
36
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
24
28
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
16
36
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
21
29
FROM THE COUCH
15
37
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
21
30
BRENT YARINA (btn)
15
37
TOM DEINHART (btn)
19
31
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
15
37
DAVID FOX (athlon)
19
32
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
15
37
FROM THE COUCH
18
31
STAT RAT (pubhole)
13
39
BRENT YARINA (btn)
18
31
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
13
39
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
17
33
DAVID FOX (athlon)
11
41
STAT RAT (pubhole)
16
32


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
3
3
3
4
3
5
2





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