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 24, 2014

BIG TEN FOOTBALL ATS WHAT HAPPENED WEEK 13


WHAT HAPPENED

I went 2-1 last Saturday. Once again, a game involving Iowa cost me. My predictions and pre-game comments can be found on my previous post, dated 11-19 (ATS Predictions - Week 13).
My Record:  10-9


THE PLAYS
Illinois 16  Penn St. 14   (Penn St. -6.5)
I predicted Illinois to win, 20-19. I’ve been wrong so many times this season I’m gonna jump on this opportunity to say “I told you so” as I was the only one of the contestants to pick Illinois to win outright.
It wasn’t so much that I liked Illinois to win as much as I liked Penn St. to lose. The Penn St. name and highly touted QB Christian Hackenberg has been prompting the wagering public to overvalue the Nittany Lions. Hackenberg didn’t throw the interceptions I called for but he did live up to the harsh criticism I dispensed in my prediction write-up. So did the Penn St. OC (ATS Predictions - Week 13).
And what did I tell ya about Illinois QB Wes Lunt when compared to his backup Reilly O’Toole? (WhatHappened - Week 12) The Illini coaching staff finally saw enough of Lunt and yanked him in the second quarter and inserted O’Toole -the QB that engineered their only conference win of the season. He engineered another in this game. In fact, O’Toole was the best QB on the field in this game. Not the most talented; just the best.

Minnesota 28  Nebraska 24   (Nebraska -10)
I predicted Minnesota to win, 27-24. This is another “I told you so” opportunity. So much so that you could almost use my prediction write-up as the post-game summary.
As I predicted, Nebraska jumped out to a two score halftime lead, only to squander it in the second half. Nebraska lost to Minnesota last season in the same fashion.
I think Nebraska probably has more talent than Minnesota, - certainly as much talent, anyway- but the difference is in the game-day coaching, IMO. Both teams’ strength lies in a running game spearheaded by an All-American candidate RB. Both teams have QB’s who can run, but are shaky as passers. The Minnesota staff understands this. Nebraska’s does not. Minnesota uses their QB’s legs often and his arm sparingly –rarely on first down. I can’t say the same about Nebraska.
Although I will say for a while there I thought I was in trouble as Nebraska came out in the second half and was consistently moving the ball by handing it to RB Ameer Abdullah. “Just my luck” I thought. “I’ve picked against Nebraska in the one game they finally see that all they need to do to win is hand it to Abdullah”. But faith was restored when during a key fourth quarter drive – after Abdullah had just ran for nine yards into Minnesota territory – the Nebraska OC called for Armstrong to drop back and pass on second and one. Armstrong was sacked for a seven yard loss, threw incomplete on third down forcing a punt, and Minnesota scored the game-winning touchdown on the ensuing possession.

Wisconsin 26  Iowa 24   (Wisconsin -10)
I predicted Wisconsin to win, 24-7. The “I told you so” party ends here as Wisconsin failed to cover for me and, once again, I misread how Iowa would play.
As I pointed out in my prediction write-up, it’s been hard for just about anyone to get a read on the Hawkeyes this season. I wasn’t too far off in terms of how the game would play out – my score for Wisconsin was close - I just didn’t figure Iowa to punch it in the end zone more than once. Iowa QB Jake Rudock played one of his better games and the Iowa O-line handled Wisconsin’s top ranked defense a little better than I expected. Still, I had a good shot at getting the cover as Wisconsin was ahead by sixteen points late in the third quarter.


THE NON-PLAYS
Ohio St. 42  Indiana 27   (Ohio St. -35)
I predicted Ohio St. to win, 52-14. Once again, it’s proven that anything can happen in college football.
Indiana, arguably the worst team in the conference, went toe to toe with one of the top teams in the country for three quarters. Actually, the Hoosiers may no longer be the worst team as QB Zander Diamont is improving as a passer. That’s not to say he’s a great passer, but it is to say he’s progressed to “capable of sometimes completing a pass”. Which helps open things up for RB Tevin Coleman, who is always capable of busting off a long touchdown run as he did in this game.  And recently, Indiana has been playing some of the best defense they’ve ever displayed during HC Kevin Wilson’s tenure. That’s not to say it’s a great defense, but it is to say….. well, you get the gist of it. Indiana played better than their usual “awful”.
Ohio St., particularly QB J.T. Barrett, was flat. No other way to put it. I suppose it was to be expected – the Buckeyes are coming off of two victories that were integral to securing a spot in the conference championship game. I, and most everyone else, figured the Buckeyes would want to put up a big number in this game in order to impress the playoff committee. And I’m sure they wanted to, but heck, it was Indiana. How excited can they get after the two games they just played? And anyone who’s played sports knows that once you come into a contest flat, it’s very difficult to turn up the inspiration meter during the game. Usually, not until their backs are against a wall does a heavily favored team become motivated enough to avoid an upset. Sometimes it’s too late. But not in this case as Ohio St. rattled off four unanswered touchdowns late in the game to secure the victory.

Michigan St. 45  Rutgers 3   (Michigan St. -24)
I predicted Michigan St. to win, 34 to 14. I don’t know that my thoughts on this game were all that far off – I figured the Spartans to win easily. I just underestimated how easy it would be.
This game was the opposite of what happened in the Ohio St. - Indiana game. The heavily favored team took care of business right away and the underdog rolled over.
This was one of four games going on at once and with only three televisions and one pair of eyes, I relegated it to “check the score and watch a couple of plays every once in a while” status after the first quarter.

Maryland 23  Michigan 16   (Michigan -6)
I predicted this game to go into overtime, 24-24.Pretty close with my prediction on this one.
Maryland QB C.J. Brown did have some success with his feet and I’d say Michigan was in fact, the team to shoot themselves in the foot more often. But not as many turnovers as I expected - Brown didn’t throw any interceptions and Michigan QB Devin Gardner only threw one.

Northwestern 38  Purdue 14   (Pick ‘em)
I predicted Purdue to win, 39-35. This game was on ESPNU, a station that’s not included in my television package, so I was unable to watch this game.
It appears as though Northwestern kept their end of the bargain concerning my prediction, but Purdue did not.
I made a comment earlier in the season about Purdue and their noticeable improvement from the previous season: It’s one thing to improve; it’s an entirely different thing to close the deal and win the game. The Boilermakers picked up a conference win against Illinois earlier in the season and used that momentum to hang tough in their next four games, all losing efforts against superior opponents.
They had a reasonable chance at another victory in this game as Northwestern isn’t considered to be as potent as the upper echelon teams the Boilermakers have recently faced. But Purdue committed five turnovers and were blown out. They have another reasonable chance this Saturday. 

Louisville 31  Notre Dame 28   (Notre Dame -2.5)
I predicted Notre Dame to win, 24-20. The wheels have come off of my Irish as they have now lost three in a row. The defense, which I thought was impressive at the beginning part of the season, is now missing tackles, QB Everett Golson continues to turn the ball over, and it’s come to the point where they can’t even execute a simple field goal. Still a good team, just a bit snake-bit and lacking in confidence right now.



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.

Tom Deinhart (BTN) regained the lead as he went 2-1 last Saturday while the former leader, Steven Lassan (Athlon) didn’t have any plays. Even though I came out ahead in FTC dollars for the day, I got bumped down a spot as Mitch Light (Athlon) came roaring past me with a 3-1 performance. Minnesota was this week’s moneymaker. I was the only one to pick the Gophers outright, but three other contestants cashed in by calling for the Minnesota to cover with the points. Wisconsin was the cash-drainer as four contestants lost with the Badgers.

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



DETAILS 

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






SEASON STATS 

Mitch Light (Athlon) is doing well in the “Spread Record” category. But you’ll notice that he’s the only one who would be ahead financially. This is why I prefer the “Play” method (seven point differential).  There are currently three contestants who are ahead in FTC dollars in the above “Play” category and three others who have only lost a small amount of juice with a .500 record. Not nearly as much action, but better for the wallet, I think. 


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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