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, November 3, 2014

BIG TEN FOOTBALL ATS WHAT HAPPENED WEEK 10


WHAT HAPPENED 

I bounced back from Black Saturday in a small way as I won with my only play. I can’t say my confidence is completely restored, though. Some of the teams have become a bit "chameleon” over the past few weeks, thus making the prediction process more difficult. Not unusual, though. It happens every season about this time. Just have to pay close attention and play the percentages. I was unable to view the morning games and the first half of the afternoon games due to a rare occasion that took precedence. My predictions and pre-game comments can be found on my previous post, dated 10-29 (ATS Predictions - Week 10).
My Record:  6-5


THE PLAYS
Nebraska 35  Purdue 14   (Nebraska -23.5)
I predicted Nebraska to win, 42-27. I got the cover with Purdue in this game. It was the right call, but I had to sweat it out when Purdue turned the ball over on downs in their own territory with time left in the fourth quarter.
Purdue didn’t score quite as often as I predicted but neither did Nebraska. The ‘Boilers, despite being overmatched, put up the valiant fight I called for. QB Austin Appleby wasn’t quite as sharp as in past games, though.
Nebraska got stops when they needed to and built up the third quarter lead I forecasted in my prediction write-up, and Purdue did get the late touchdown in the fourth quarter to close the gap to 14 points. But it was Nebraska who got the “garbage” touchdown after Purdue turned the ball over on downs at their own seven yard line with two minutes left to play. Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong relapsed with his intermediate passing game as he was erratic and threw two interceptions.


THE NON-PLAYS
Wisconsin 37  Rutgers 0   (Wisconsin -14)
I predicted Wisconsin to win, 34 to 17. This was one of the games I was unable to view. I was close with Wisconsin’s score but didn’t figure Rutgers to get shut out at home.
Wisconsin’s defense and O-line has really stepped it up since their bye week. There wasn’t much talk or highlights of QB Joel Stave’s play but his numbers looked pedestrian. The lack of attention to his play I’m assuming is because it doesn’t appear as though the Badgers needed a passing game in this one as they rushed for close to 300 yards. Wisconsin will have one more game (this Saturday against Purdue) to throw their weight around. After that the competition gets more challenging.
Rutgers QB Gary Nova played so I figure him to be good to go for the Scarlet Knights’ next game. Obviously he was ineffective in this game. Without having watched I’m not sure how much of that had to do with his injury. 

Maryland 20  Penn St 19   (Penn St -3.5)
I predicted Penn St. to win, 24-14. This was another one of the games I was unable to watch. I was saved by the point spread in this one as it was a half-point away from becoming a play and a loss. Half a point has cost me a win this season, though, so it all more or less evens out.
As I said in my prediction write-up, I was a bit out on a limb to call for a ten point Penn St. victory. It’s not that I was completely unguarded against overvaluing last Saturday’s performance from both teams when Penn St.’s O-line had a decent second half against Ohio St. and Maryland was horrendous against Wisconsin. I just figured with Penn St. at home against Maryland’s defense the Nittany Lions would have done better offensively. And they did have an 11 point lead going into the fourth quarter.
Maryland is one of the “chameleon” teams I was referring to in my opening comments. Hard to figure.

Iowa 48  Northwestern 7   (Iowa -3.5)
I predicted Northwestern to win, 20-17. I didn’t get to see this one, either. This game also would have cost me if Iowa was favored by a half-point more.
Where was the Northwestern team that beat Wisconsin? Where was the Iowa team that lost to Maryland? Wisconsin trounced Maryland, so a little deducement would indicate at least a close game, right? The “chameleon” effect strikes again.
Apparently Iowa found its running game. And its passing game. And its defense.
And Northwestern apparently lost all of those things.
I guess I can take a small amount of comfort in saying that I don’t think anyone saw an Iowa blow-out coming. Not by 41, anyway.
I’m not sure what to make of either one of these teams, right now. It appears as though they’re heading in different directions, but I’m waiting until the next game before I consider that statement verified.

Michigan 34  Indiana 10   (Michigan -7)
I predicted Michigan to win, 24-14. Not a big surprise here. It was a little easier for Michigan than I envisioned, but I’m not gonna be too hard on myself about that. For the most part, Michigan has found ways to make the simplest of things difficult this season.
Indiana RB Devin Coleman got the 100 yards I called for and Michigan QB Devin Gardner served up the interception (ATS Predictions - Week 10). Indiana returned the interception to the Michigan 12 yard line but failed to capitalize. The Hoosiers are as harmless as a toothless Abdominal Snowman when they’re without a passing game.
As I said in my prediction write-up, this game wasn’t so much a matter of who’s best but who’s worst. Indiana is worse. Arguably the worst in a league that isn’t very strong. Yet even though this is his fourth season, HC Kevin Wilson still gets love from the Big Ten media. I don’t think anyone gets a pass for inadequacy more often than Wilson, other than maybe Penn St. QB Christian Hackenberg.

Ohio St. 55   Illinois 14   (Ohio St. -28.5)
I predicted Ohio St. to win, 45-21.
This one was pretty much over during the closing notes of the pre-game National Anthem. Ohio St. could have scored even more points if it wanted to.
How this Illinois team beat Minnesota is still a puzzle to me. And Ohio St. needing overtime to finish Penn St. still bugs me a bit, too, as both of those games cost me. But as I said earlier, it’s the “chameleon” time of the season.
Although this game was more lopsided than my already lopsided prediction, I had the right idea in throwing out the previous Saturday and calling for an easy Buckeyes victory.

Notre Dame 49  Navy 39   (Notre Dame -14)
I predicted Notre Dame to win, 35-17. More offense than I figured from both teams, especially Navy. Notre Dame always has trouble with Navy, and I tried to adjust my prediction accordingly.
This has been a down year for Navy so I didn’t figure them to put this many points on the board, but they always bring their best for the Irish. Notre Dame jumped out to a big lead, but couldn’t put the Midshipmen away. In fact, Navy had a three point lead going into the fourth quarter. As I said in my prediction write-up, this is a good tackling Notre Dame defense. And that was the case in this game as the Irish really didn’t miss many tackles. But the Navy offense caught the Irish out of position on several occasions; enough to put up 39 points, anyway.
But Notre Dame scored when they had to and had regained an 11 point lead less than three minutes into the fourth quarter. Notre Dame missed two field goals, which allowed Navy to stay in this game until the very end.
As I said, Notre Dame always has trouble with Navy, and for whatever reason, the Irish never seem to win big against any team considered to be a weaker opponent. So the close score really doesn’t lower my opinion of the Irish, other than to reiterate that Notre Dame is lacking a strong running game. RB Tarean Folston gained 149 yards so there was improvement. But when the opportunity came to win the game by grinding out some first downs on the ground the Irish failed and had to turn to QB Everett Golson’s arm and scrambling ability instead.



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.

My lone win didn’t move me up in the standings any as the first four positions didn’t change. Tom Deinhart from BTN widened his lead by winning two games and Steve Lassan from Athlon maintained his spot in second place by winning one game. I did gain a bit of ground on Braden Gall (Athlon), though. Gall had no games that qualified as a play. Overall it was a pretty good Saturday for the gang as the combined record was 11-4 and no one lost anything more than “juice” dollars. Wisconsin was the hot pick as five contestants won with the Badgers.

ATS  PLAY STANDINGS
LAST SATURDAY
TOTAL
FTC $
W
L
T
W
L
T
TOM DEINHART (btn)
2
0
0
9
5
0
$175
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
1
0
0
5
3
0
$85
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
0
0
0
6
5
0
$25
FROM THE COUCH
1
0
0
5
5
0
-$25
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
1
0
0
7
8
0
-$90
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
0
0
0
1
3
0
-$115
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
1
1
0
3
5
0
-$125
STAT RAT (pubhole)
2
1
0
7
9
0
-$145
BRENT YARINA (btn)
1
0
0
5
8
0
-$190
DAVID FOX (athlon)
2
2
0
7
11
0
-$255



DETAILS 

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






SEASON STATS 

Tom Dienhart (BTN) had the best Saturday in regards to the statistical categories as he was the only one to pick all six winners “straight up” and also went 5-1 in the “Spread Record” category. The leaders of each category remain the same as the previous week although I lost a little ground in the “Straight Up” category and now share first place with three other contestants.


SPREAD RECORD
W
L
STRAIGHT UP
W
L
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
20
13
FROM THE COUCH
26
8
TOM DEINHART (btn)
19
14
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
26
8
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
16
18
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
26
8
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
16
18
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
26
8
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
15
19
TOM DEINHART (btn)
25
9
FROM THE COUCH
14
18
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
25
9
STAT RAT (pubhole)
14
19
DAVID FOX (athlon)
24
10
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
14
19
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
24
10
BRENT YARINA (btn)
13
21
STAT RAT (pubhole)
23
11
DAVID FOX (athlon)
13
21
BRENT YARINA (btn)
23
11
WITHIN 7
W
L
CLOSEST
W
L
TOM DEINHART (btn)
13
21
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
17
16
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
12
22
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
15
19
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
11
23
TOM DEINHART (btn)
14
19
FROM THE COUCH
10
24
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
14
19
BRENT YARINA (btn)
10
24
FROM THE COUCH
13
19
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
10
24
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
13
20
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
10
24
STAT RAT (pubhole)
12
21
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
9
25
DAVID FOX (athlon)
12
22
STAT RAT (pubhole)
8
26
BRENT YARINA (btn)
11
22
DAVID FOX (athlon)
7
27
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
10
23


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
1
3
1
3
2
5
0






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