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, October 28, 2015

BIG TEN FOOTBALL ATS WEEK 9 PREDICTIONS


Six games to look at this week. Five conference games and one Notre Dame game. As of now it looks like one will be a play for sure, and probably another.
My current record: 4-10


CRYSTAL BALL

WEEK OF 10-31-2015

IOWA
35
MARYLAND
21
ILLINOIS
16
PENN ST
14
NEBRASKA
35
PURDUE
21
WISCONSIN
27
RUTGERS
10
MICHIGAN
24
MINNESOTA
10
NOTRE DAME
34
TEMPLE
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 predicted point spread that differs from the closing line 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 or click here→ (FTC $ Q&A.) 


1
2
3
Final
IOWA
7
14
28
35
MARYLAND
0
14
21
21

Maryland QB Perry Hills played his best game ever last week and burned me in the process. I won’t necessarily look for a repeat performance, but I will be looking for him to play much better than he did earlier in the season. Up to last week, Hills had been ineffective as a passer. Iowa has a pretty good secondary and overall defense, so I figure Hills for a few interceptions in this game. But I also look for him to throw at least some good balls and he always has been a good runner. Maryland isn’t quite as bad as their 2-5 record indicates, so they’re capable of knocking off a team with a better record. Most fans and analysts are looking at Iowa’s remaining schedule and are figuring the Hawkeyes to run the table and play in the conference championship game. Iowa may still play in the conference championship game, but I think the Hawkeyes will stumble somewhere along the way. I don’t know which game or games they’ll lose, but history shows that a Kirk Ferentz coached Iowa team is gonna turn in a head scratching loss at some point during the season. It could be this game but I’m going to be practical and go with the facts: The game is at Kinnick, Iowa is coming off a bye, and Iowa has the better defense. I look for this game to be competitive for the most part, but I expect Iowa come out way ahead in the turnover margin and protect a late two touchdown cushion.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Iowa by 17, so it is unlikely that this prediction will qualify as a play. 

1
2
3
Final
PENN ST
0
7
7
14
ILLINOIS
3
6
13
16

The offenses usually have hit their stride by this point in the season so calling for such low scoring seems questionable. But I don’t have much faith in Penn St.’s offense. And I also think the Nittany Lions defense will be good enough to make things difficult for an Illinois offense that hasn’t scored more than 20 points in any of its conference games. Penn St. has the better record, but aside from losing big to Ohio St., the Nittany Lions haven’t faced the same level of conference competition that Illinois has. Illinois has been right there with the likes of Iowa and Wisconsin, and got a nice program building win against Nebraska. I thought Illinois would get another program builder last week against Wisconsin, but the Illini aren’t quite to that level yet. But despite the iconic status, neither is Penn St. This is a good matchup that could go either way. Both QBs garner accolades for their physical talents and potential, but I wouldn’t trust either one of ‘em in a clutch situation. I give the play calling/coaching edge to Illini HC Bill Cubit, although I do think Cubit got out-foxed last Saturday. The Penn St. staff gets out-coached regularly. Illinois is missing some big play guys on offense, so Cubit will have to be sharp for this one. Penn St. RB Saquon Barkley could be a problem for the Illini, but I figure the Penn St. OC to neglect Barkley just enough for QB Christian Hackenberg to throw a couple of interceptions. I’m calling for a tight, low scoring battle all the way with Illinois kicking the game winning FG in the closing moments.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Penn St. by 5.5, so there is a good chance that this prediction will qualify as a play. 

1
2
3
Final
PURDUE
0
14
14
21
NEBRASKA
7
21
35
35

Nebraska is coming off another close, disappointing loss so I can’t help but wonder how much the players are gonna be able to take. Morale can’t be good. But speaking of low morale, Purdue can’t be feeling too good about their 1-6 record. I thought Purdue would have a better record at this point in the season, and I’m assuming the players and fans did too. We’re getting pretty close to the time of the season when the unsuccessful teams start to go in the tank. The pattern is to play a couple of terribly bad games, and after that’s out of their system, regroup and rally for a surprisingly good game, only to close out the season with a thud. But the pattern is usually accompanied with grumblings from the fan base and an uncertain future for the HC. Nebraska HC Mike Riley is only in his first season, so he’s not going anywhere. And ‘Husker fans seem surprisingly tolerant. And I haven’t heard or read any amplified “hot seat” talk concerning Purdue HC Darrell Hazell. And even though Purdue lost, I didn’t see any quit in the Boilermakers in their last game against Wisconsin. I think Nebraska is the better team here, and I don’t see the Purdue coaching staff coming up with a game plan to offset that. The Boilermakers hopes probably lie in having big success on the ground, an exceptional game from QB David Blough, and some poor decisions from Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong. The odds are against all three of those things happening this Saturday (although they can probably count on Armstrong for at least one bad decision) so I’m going with Nebraska in this one.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Nebraska by 10.5, so it is unlikely that this prediction will qualify as a play.
**LATE EDIT** - Yet another late edit. I don’t think I’ve ever done more than one edit in a season and now this will be the fourth, the second this week. I found out last night (Thursday) that Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong won’t be playing in this game due to injury. I handicapped this game last Sunday thinking Armstrong would be playing. I don’t know anything about Armstrong’s backup (and it looks like I won’t learn much about him either as this game is scheduled to broadcast on the “U”) so I’ll have to use my disclaimer and not count this game. It doesn’t appear that this game is going to be a play, but still, if it was I’d have to yank it, so that’s what I’m doing. Strange season; coaches quitting or getting fired and late QB scratches, all out of nowhere right in the middle of the week. Sheesh!

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

I’m not sure if Wisconsin starting QB Joel Stave has fully recovered from last Saturday’s injury at Illinois. Doesn’t matter. His backup, Bart Houston, proved to be fully capable. I’m fine with either one for the purpose of this prediction. Wisconsin has a very good defense and an adequate offense. The Badgers haven’t had much success on the ground this season, although they did show improvement last Saturday. HC Paul Chryst calls a good passing game, though, and so far, Stave has carried it out well except for a bad outing in a loss at Iowa. Rutgers is coming off a shellacking at home against top ranked Ohio St. I guess there’s not much shame in that since the Buckeyes played their best game of the season. The Scarlet Knights just ran into a buzz saw – wrong place at the wrong time. But still, Rutgers hasn’t shown themselves to be capable of beating any team with a good defense, and Wisconsin certainly has that. And they really haven’t shut down anyone with a good offense. Wisconsin almost has that. The Badgers could be a little flat for this one, considering they’re coming off of a road win against a legitimate threat in Illinois and are now facing a team that just lost by six TDs. But the game is at Camp Randall so I don’t foresee a major upset here. I don’t expect Wisconsin to win in blow out fashion but I do expect the Badgers to be in comfortable control throughout most of this game.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Wisconsin by 20.5, so it is unlikely that this prediction will qualify as a play. 

1
2
3
Final
MINNESOTA
7
7
10
10
MICHIGAN
3
17
24
24

Jerry Kill is a good coach and this game is at Minnesota, so I don’t think Michigan can expect an easy win here, despite the Gophers disappointing season so far. And it has been disappointing; if not for the won-loss record, then for the two conference blow out losses and the narrow victories over inferior opponents during the nonconference portion of the season. The biggest problem has been the offense. Under the Jerry Kill regime, the Gophers calling card has been sound defense and a good running game. The defense wasn’t bad, but the ground game got off to a slow start as opponents were crowding the line of scrimmage. And QB Mitch Leidner couldn’t take advantage as he struggled badly in the passing game. Leidner finally had a good game through the air in the Gophers’ last game, but the defense suddenly went bad and the Gophers were blown out at home against a mediocre Nebraska team. Everybody knows ad nauseam what happened to Michigan in its last game out. When I put together my preseason predictions I figured this game to be Michigan’s second loss. I still say it will be a good physical game, but considering where these programs are at right now I have to go with the Wolverines here. A slight edge to Michigan in just about all categories – running game, defense, playmakers, razor thin edge in coaching and QB – adds up to a two touchdown road victory.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Michigan by 14, so there is virtually no chance that this prediction will qualify as a play.
**LATE EDIT** - Minnesota HC Jerry Kill just announced his retirement this morning due to health reasons. Perhaps Minnesota’s struggles this season could be attributed to Kill’s failing health. This occurrence would certainly fall under my disclaimer parameters, but I’m gonna let this prediction stand. Kill has epilepsy and has suddenly missed games in the past as a result. Often enough to where the coaching staff and players are prepared for Kill’s absence. This news will certainly affect the players emotionally, probably more in a motivated “win one for Jerry” way. But I still like my prediction and it’s not gonna qualify as a play so I’m gonna let it stand, providing there aren’t any more developments to this news. 

1
2
3
Final
TEMPLE
7
7
14
14
NOTRE DAME
14
20
27
34

Many are calling for this one to be much closer. Temple has a good defense and a not too shabby offense. And they are undefeated and ranked. But, while it’s not always a good barometer, I can’t help but be swayed by the “common opponent” factor when I notice that Temple barely squeaked past UMass while Notre Dame beat the Minutemen the following week by five TDs. I dunno, Notre Dame always gets an opponent’s best, but despite the perfect record, Temple’s resume doesn’t look all that impressive. But winning is winning, and it takes a lot of heart and character to be undefeated, so Temple certainly poses at least some threat. But Notre Dame has been looking good offensively lately and, given Temple’s top 25 ranking, probably won’t be taking this game lightly. Notre Dame has some talent on defense, but has been a bit inconsistent so I do have some concerns about that side of the ball. But offense isn’t where Temple’s strength lies. The Owls do, however, rank eighth in the country in scoring defense. But I don’t think they’ve faced an offense with as much talent as Notre Dame’s. DeShone Kizer has grown into a very good QB since being thrown into the fire when starting QB Malik Zaire went down with a season ending injury. And the WRs, particularly Will Fuller, have been going up and getting everything Kizer throws their way. And C.J. Prosise is the best RB Notre Dame has had in years. I know this game is on the road and Notre Dame seems to always be involved in a down to the wire finish no matter who the opponent, but man, I can’t see Temple keeping up with the Irish in this one.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Notre Dame by 10, so this prediction will most likely qualify as a play.





ATS

FTC DOLLARS
In this section I track the results of my predictions that qualify as “plays” ATS (any predicted point spread that differs from the closing line by seven or more points). I’ve also included the results (conference games only) of some unsuspecting prognosticators that I found on line. The standings are based on how many “FTC” dollars are won. For a more detailed explanation of this section and the definition of a “play”, please refer to the “FTC $ Q&A” tab at the top of this post or click here→ FTC $ Q&A.

ATS  PLAY STANDINGS
LAST SATURDAY
TOTAL
FTC $
W
L
T
W
L
T
BRENT YARINA (btn)
1
0
0
4
2
0
$90
TOM DEINHART (btn)
2
1
0
5
4
0
$30
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
0
1
0
2
3
0
-$65
FROM THE COUCH
1
2
0
4
9
0
-$295

Link to the BTN website (last Saturday’s predictions): BTN.com


  


SEASON STATS

SPREAD RECORD
W
L
STRAIGHT UP
W
L
TOM DEINHART (btn)
12
10
BRENT YARINA (btn)
19
4
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
10
13
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
18
5
FROM THE COUCH
9
14
TOM DEINHART (btn)
18
5
BRENT YARINA (btn)
8
14
FROM THE COUCH
16
6
WITHIN 7
W
L
CLOSEST
W
L
TOM DEINHART (btn)
8
15
TOM DEINHART (btn)
10
12
BRENT YARINA (btn)
7
16
FROM THE COUCH
9
14
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
6
17
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
9
14
FROM THE COUCH
5
18
BRENT YARINA (btn)
8
14

SPREAD RECORD- This category disregards my seven point “play” system and 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 actual 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 – This category tracks the number of times a predicted point spread was more accurate than the Vegas point spread. This category differs from the Spread Record category because 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 Michigan by 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 oddsmakers’ point spread (7-6=1) was closer to the final score differential 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. My Notre Dame predictions aren’t included in the above standings and statistics because my competition doesn’t predict Notre Dame games. So I’ve separately listed the stats for my Notre Dame game predictions below. 

PLAYS
SPREAD RECORD
CLOSEST
WITHIN 7
STRAIGHT UP
W
L
T
W
L
W
L
W
L
W
L
0
1
0
0
5
0
6
3
3
4
2



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