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 4, 2015

BIG TEN FOOTBALL ATS WEEK 10 PREDICTIONS

Maximum amount of games to look at this week. Full slate of seven conference games and one Notre Dame game. As of now there are four that are sitting on the crusp of being a play.
My current record: 4-11


CRYSTAL BALL

WEEK OF 11-7-2015

IOWA
45
INDIANA
33
MICHIGAN
38
RUTGERS
7
MICHIGAN ST
31
NEBRASKA
17
NORTHWESTERN
17
PENN ST
17
OT
OHIO ST
35
MINNESOTA
17
PURDUE
28
ILLINOIS
24
WISCONSIN
31
MARYLAND
14
NOTRE DAME
24
PITT
19

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
INDIANA
10
13
20
33
IOWA
7
21
31
45

I’m still waiting for that Iowa slip-up. The remaining schedule is weak, but I still think it’s gonna happen. It could be this game. Indiana is the type of team that can outshoot the Hawkeyes. Indiana is the type of team that can outshoot anybody. But their defense couldn’t keep a turtle out of the end zone. I’m probably not gonna be able to predict when Iowa will suffer its upset loss. It will be more a result of Iowa not playing well than anything else, and who knows when that might happen. So common sense and all indications say to go with the Hawkeyes here, but an Indiana victory wouldn’t knock me off my chair.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Iowa by 7, so there is a small chance that this prediction will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
MICHIGAN
10
17
24
38
RUTGERS
0
0
0
7

Rutgers has suffered blow-out losses in its last two games and now I’m calling for a third. Michigan kinda fell off the tracks last Saturday and nearly lost to an inspired Minnesota team, which I think will put enough of a scare into the Wolverines to approach this game with a serious intention to get back on track. Starting with the conference’s top ranked scoring defense facing a team in Rutgers that hasn’t had much, make that hasn’t had hardly any, success against upper echelon defenses. I’m making this prediction assuming Michigan QB Jake Rudock, who left last Saturday’s game with an injury, will be ready to go this Saturday. Most reports say he will. Even with Rudock, Michigan’s offense isn’t the kind that’s gonna light up the score board in rapid fire fashion. But turnovers and lack of ball movement from the Rutgers offense will provide the Wolverines enough scoring opportunities to make this game a slow death for the Scarlet Knights.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Michigan by 24.5, so it is very possible that this prediction will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
NEBRASKA
3
10
10
17
MICHIGAN ST
7
17
24
31

I’m assuming Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong will start this game. I’m not assuming he will finish, but I am assuming he will start. This game is at Nebraska and, even though I’m sure the ‘Husker fans are restless, I think that will be to Nebraska’s advantage. The reason I feel compelled to say that is that sometimes when a team is performing well below expectations, as this Nebraska team is, the home crowd can get ugly at the first sign of trouble and start booing its own team. But that doesn’t seem to be how they do it in Lincoln. A patient, mannerly fan base, for the most part. This doesn’t mean I think Nebraska will win, though. But I am gonna refrain from taking last Saturday’s embarrassing loss to Purdue as the benchmark for Nebraska football. And Michigan St. never seems to blow anybody out. So while I look for Michigan St. to take the early lead and maintain it throughout, I think the ‘Huskers will be within striking distance at halftime. But I will make my usual prediction that Armstrong will throw a few interceptions - providing he doesn’t bail out of the game with his injury. And that should be just enough of a difference for Michigan St. to grind out another one of their typical business-like victories.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Michigan St. by 5.5, so there is a good chance that this prediction will qualify as a play. 

1
2
3
Final
N'RTHW'STERN
3
10
17
17
PENN ST
0
14
17
17

About a month ago I would have figured Northwestern to win this game rather easily. Now I’m not so sure. Suddenly Penn St. has an offense. And Northwestern was beaten badly in two of its last three games. And the victory last Saturday was by two points against a Nebraska team whose stock is dropping substantially with each passing week. I still can’t bring myself to completely trust Penn St.’s offense, even though they are coming off of their best performance in the last two years. But it is apparent that QB Christian Hackenberg, who has always been lauded for his physical capabilities, has some momentum and, more importantly, some confidence. Where he used to curl up in the fetal position to take a sack, he’s now moving around when pressured and buying himself some time to use his exceptional arm strength or to even take off running for the first down. But while Northwestern’s defense isn’t top shelf, it is still better than any of the defenses the Nittany Lions faced in their seven victories this season. Northwestern has its own problems on offense. But like Hackenberg, freshman QB Clayton Thorson seemed to gain some confidence last Saturday. But the Penn St. defense has been stout all season and seems to be getting even better up front. Thorson’s passing has been erratic for most of the season and he’ll be facing one of the better pass rushes in the conference behind a struggling O-line. The defenses are the stars in this game so I think this will be a low scoring affair. I would probably go with Penn St. if they were at home but they’re not. In fact, after nine games this will be only the third road game for the Nittany Lions. They lost the other two- their only losses of the season. I see this game as dead-even and going into overtime. Which means I’ll take seven points either way.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Northwestern by 2.5, so there is virtually no chance that this prediction will qualify as a play. 

1
2
3
Final
OHIO ST
0
14
28
35
MINNESOTA
7
10
17
17

The QB saga continues for Ohio St. Doesn’t matter. Not for this game, anyway. Cardale Jones will suffice. The Buckeyes seem to be gaining momentum. The insertion of J.T. Barrett as the starter for the Buckeyes’ last game against Rutgers is garnering a lot of proclamations as the shot in the arm Ohio St. needed to get back to last season’s championship level of play. But let’s not forget this was against a Rutgers team that’s given up an average of 50 points in its last three games. I get the feeling Jones might have had a decent game himself had he been allowed to keep his starting job. He gets to keep it for this game ‘cuz Barrett is now suspended. And he’ll probably keep it for more than the one game Barrett is suspended if he does well. So I expect Jones to play with an even greater sense of urgency in this game with the added comfort of not having to “look over his shoulder”. Minnesota played great last Saturday as they nearly upset Michigan. Some of that was probably fueled by a “win one for Jerry” sentiment in honor of HC Jerry Kill, who emotionally retired last week due to health reasons. But a lot of the sudden improvement came courtesy of QB Mitch Leidner. Leidner has now put together two decent passing games in a row. “Decent” is a huge improvement when compared to most of the games prior. And Leidner always was a good runner, and he has a strong competitive spirit. Still, two good passing games doesn’t mean I should disregard six crappy ones. I think Leidner will throw some nice passes and probably rip off some nice runs, but I also think he’ll serve up some interceptions. And the “We love you Jerry” sentiment can only last so long and take the Gophers so far, especially when the team now hits the road. And if interim HC Tracy Claeys doesn’t handle the job better than he did in the closing moments of last Saturday’s game, the “We really, really miss you Jerry” sentiment will become prevalent. Ohio St. is a great team, but I’m not entirely convinced they’ve turned some proverbial corner. I don’t think they really will or really have to. Heck, they’ve won all of their games. It’s just that that’s not good enough for a lot of fans and analysts. So I expect Minnesota to play better than they have been earlier in the season and give the Buckeyes a good fight through most of the game. But in the end, I figure Ohio St. to win - like they have been all season - without much drama in the closing moments.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Ohio St. by 23, so it is very possible that this prediction will qualify as a play. 

1
2
3
Final
PURDUE
7
14
21
28
ILLINOIS
0
10
10
24

It doesn’t appear as though Illinois is gonna get that break-through victory I’d been expecting, unless it comes against Northwestern (strange things happen the last game of the season). Last Saturday’s performance against Penn St. was demoralizing. A victory this Saturday against lowly Purdue would hardly be considered “break-through”. In fact, it would be expected. A loss would be, well, demoralizing. But that’s what I’m calling for here. Purdue got a big win last week at home against Nebraska. Beating Nebraska this season isn’t the accomplishment it usually is, especially considering the ‘Huskers were without their starting QB. But any win is big for Purdue. And even though Purdue gets beat way more often than not, I never see any quit in the players. I saw a lot of quit in the Illini last Saturday. Talent-wise, Illinois’ Wes Lunt is the better QB in this game. But I’ll take Purdue’s David Blough over Lunt. More heart. But determination or not, Purdue isn’t very talented in some areas and they usually find a way to lose. So picking them to win is risky to say the least. The site being Ross-Ade and the opposite momentum for both teams is my deciding factor. Could go either way, though.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Illinois by 2, so there is a reasonable chance that this prediction will qualify as a play. 

1
2
3
Final
MARYLAND
0
7
7
14
WISCONSIN
7
21
24
31

Wisconsin never seems to blow anybody out. But they did last Saturday. The Badgers put together a running game and won by 38 points. But the opponent, Rutgers, seems to be sinking to the bottom so I can’t read too much into the Badgers’ convincing win. I’ve been saying it a lot lately, but I still maintain Maryland isn’t as bad as their won-loss record would indicate. But they struggled offensively last Saturday against Iowa. And Wisconsin has a very good defense. The game is at Maryland and Wisconsin is due for a bit of a letdown so my margin of victory might be a bit wide, but I just can’t find many points for Maryland against this Badgers defense. And Maryland has been a turnover machine all season. Wisconsin HC Paul Chryst is a good play caller and if the newfound running game isn’t just “fool’s gold”, the Badgers will be tuff to stop. I like Wisconsin to methodically put points on the board while Maryland struggles offensively.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Wisconsin by 13, so it is unlikely that this prediction will qualify as a play. 

1
2
3
Final
PITT
9
9
16
19
NOTRE DAME
0
10
10
24

Notre Dame always struggles against Pitt. Goes all the way back to the 70s when Tony Dorsett was making a name for himself. I’m going with Notre Dame because they “should” win. I think they have the better team, although that hasn’t mattered in the past. And actually, this season’s Pitt team is legit for a change. And the game is at Pitt. I got a bad feeling about this one. I think my Irish are on upset alert. But then again, this Notre Dame team has found a way to win the close ones, and I think this one will be close. Notre Dame is my favorite team but I’ve never let that sway my predictions. I won’t hesitate to call for a Notre Dame loss if that’s way I feel. But as I said, I think Notre Dame has the better team and therefore should win. I’m not gonna let some bad feeling conjured up by the “Ghost of Pitt Games Past” sway my judgement.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Notre Dame by 9, so it is unlikely that this prediction will 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)
0
0
0
4
2
0
$90
TOM DEINHART (btn)
0
1
0
5
5
0
-$25
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
0
1
0
2
4
0
-$120
FROM THE COUCH
0
0
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)
15
11
BRENT YARINA (btn)
23
4
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
11
16
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
22
5
FROM THE COUCH
10
17
TOM DEINHART (btn)
22
5
BRENT YARINA (btn)
9
17
FROM THE COUCH
19
7
WITHIN 7
W
L
CLOSEST
W
L
TOM DEINHART (btn)
9
18
TOM DEINHART (btn)
12
14
BRENT YARINA (btn)
8
19
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
10
17
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
8
19
FROM THE COUCH
9
18
FROM THE COUCH
6
21
BRENT YARINA (btn)
9
17


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
2
0
0
6
0
7
3
4
5
2


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