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 25, 2015

BIG TEN FOOTBALL ATS WEEK 13 PREDICTIONS

Rivalry week to close out the season. Every one of ‘em great matchups. An intriguing situation to determine the winner the of East division. Michigan St. will win the division if they beat Penn St. The oddsmakers say double digits but I think the Spartans will have their hands full. Very possible they could be upset. If Michigan St. does happen to lose, the winner of the Ohio St. – Michigan classic will win the division. I’m looking forward to the drama but I’m torn on which order of sequence I’d prefer it to unfold. The way it’s set up, Michigan-Ohio St. will play in the early time slot (11am) and Michigan St. will play later (2:30pm). Which is probably the best way because it guarantees suspense through both games. But if the order was reversed and Michigan St. played the early game and happened to lose, it would set up a winner-take-all showdown between Michigan-Ohio St. Or, they could both play at the same time, which would work out great for me, what with the multiple televisions and all. The way it’s actually scheduled is probably the best, but any of the three layouts would be cool. I love rivalry week (check out this older “rivalry week” post).
My current record: 7-14



CRYSTAL BALL

WEEK OF 11-28-2015

IOWA
30
NEBRASKA
21
NORTHWESTERN
24
ILLINOIS
17
WISCONSIN
27
MINNESOTA
20
INDIANA
35
PURDUE
30
MARYLAND
38
RUTGERS
38
OT
MICHIGAN
21
OHIO ST
14
PENN ST
17
MICHIGAN ST
15
NOTRE DAME
31
STANFORD
31
OT

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
NEBRASKA
7
7
14
21
IOWA
7
16
23
30

The oddsmakers have this game tight and I’ve been saying for some time now that Iowa is gonna lose a regular season game. Could this be the one? The table is set. Nebraska has had over a week to prepare while Iowa is on a short week.  The accolades for the Iowa players has been amplified with each passing week – usually not a good thing as young college kids can start to believe their press clippings and become overconfident. And, on paper, Nebraska has the talent to match up with the Hawkeyes. But Nebraska is just so… well, dumb. And Iowa’s offense has been getting better each week - they’re on a roll. I look for Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong to serve up his weekly dose of interceptions and for Iowa’s offense to successfully move the ball often enough to hang 30 points on the ‘Huskers. Iowa’s defense is good but not great, and Armstrong is a scoring threat with both his arm and his legs so I figure Nebraska to move the ball also, but the turnovers will be too much to overcome.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Iowa by 1, so this prediction will most likely qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
ILLINOIS
0
7
17
17
N'RTHW'STERN
0
7
14
24

Northwestern is looking to close a successful season with only two losses while Illinois has lost five of the last six and needs a win in this game to become bowl eligible. This, like most of these rivalry matchups, is one of those “throw out the records” type game. That doesn’t mean I think Illinois will win. But I do think the game will be competitive. Neither team ranks very high offensively, but Northwestern is near the top defensively.  Illinois’ offense doesn’t seem to perform too well come crunch time, so I think Northwestern wins the fourth quarter and consequently, the game.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Northwestern by 3.5, so it is unlikely that this prediction will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
MINNESOTA
7
10
10
20
WISCONSIN
3
20
20
27

Minnesota seems to be on the rise while Wisconsin seems to be on the decline. But only slightly, in both cases. The game could go either way, especially since it’s at Minnesota, but I think Wisconsin’s defense will be the difference. The Badgers defense has been tuff all season. Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner has improved as a passer, but I think he’ll have trouble against the Wisconsin pass rush. Wisconsin QB Joel Stave has cooled off some since a hot start to the season, and Minnesota’s defense has regained some of its mojo. Like I said, this game could go either way, but the Badgers have shown throughout the season to be the slightly better team.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Wisconsin by 2.5, so there is a small chance that this prediction will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
PURDUE
10
17
24
30
INDIANA
7
14
28
35

Lovin’ these matchups. Doesn’t bother me at all that neither of these teams is very good. I just like an even match. Based on what I’ve seen during the season, Indiana’s offense alone should get them the win. The Hoosiers have been able to move the ball against some of the better defenses in the conference. Purdue is not one of the better defenses in the conference. But the Boilermakers are scrappy. Maybe not good enough to win many games, but they’ve shown some grit on several occasions. I don’t know who will start QB for the Boilermakers – regular starter David Blough left last Saturday’s game with an injury – but I’m ok with either of the two candidates. Backup QB Austin Appleby has some experience as a starter and seemed to spark his team when he entered the game last Saturday. Purdue can look good at times on offense, and Indiana’s defense is porous, so I think Purdue will put some points on the board, just not quite enough to keep up with Indiana’s scoring output.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Indiana by 6.5, so there is virtually no chance that this prediction will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
RUTGERS
7
21
24
38
MARYLAND
14
24
31
38

These two outsiders have taken their rightful place at the bottom of the conference. The loser finishes last. Well, maybe they could have a playoff between the loser of the Purdue-Indiana game to determine who actually finishes last, but you get the gist. By now I’ve stopped scratching my head over the addition of these teams to the Big Ten conference and have pretty much accepted and enjoyed following both teams. But they are who we thought they were: not good enough football programs to be very competitive in this conference. They’re both lousy on defense so I expect a lot of scoring. There’s really nothing that stands out to say one team is better than the other, so I’ll take seven points either way.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at pick ‘em, so there is virtually no chance that this prediction will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
MICHIGAN
0
7
14
21
OHIO ST
0
7
14
14

Way back in the preseason I called for Michigan to win this game. Now my prediction doesn’t seem so far-fetched. The Michigan-Ohio St. game is my favorite game to watch. A classic rivalry. I just wish Ohio St. had won last Saturday so this could be the game that decides the division championship. I think there’s a fair chance it still will be, but it’s the early game so we won’t know until later in the afternoon. Ohio St. probably has the edge in overall talent, but last season’s success has made ‘em soft and slightly dysfunctional. I emphasize the word “slightly”. This is still a very good team, even if they were proven to be not invincible last Saturday. And last Saturday’s loss may light a fire under the Buckeyes that hasn’t been there all season. But I think Michigan is the team with the most fire in this one. HC Jim Harbaugh is one of the few coaches in college football who can neutralize the “advantage to Ohio St.” evaluation that’s usually reserved for the Buckeyes when comparing a game’s coaches. And Michigan has all those seasons from the Brady Hoke and Rich Rod eras pent up inside. I say “advantage to Michigan” when it comes to desire in this one. Certainly not a slam dunk, though. Should be a great game. I’m looking forward to it.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at pick ‘em, so there is a good chance that this prediction will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
MICHIGAN ST
0
6
9
15
PENN ST
3
10
17
17

You heard it here first. In fact, this is probably the only time you’ll hear it. I’ve got my “I told you so” ready. I don’t have my excuse ready yet if it doesn’t work out. But I won’t need it. The Spartans are going to stumble here and blow a shot at the conference title. I can feel it. It’s not so much that I like Penn St. I even made a note to myself a while back to never trust Penn St. again.  But that distrust was reserved mainly for the Penn St. offense. The Nittany Lions offense has improved, but I still don’t trust it. Same can be said for QB Christian Hackenberg. But the Penn St. defense ain’t bad at all. And it’s questionable whether Michigan St. QB Connor Cook will be able to start. Even if he plays I don’t expect him to be 100%. But the main reason I’m picking the upset here is because of Michigan St.’s victory last Saturday. A colossal win against all odds in a game that’s been circled since the end of last season. So tuff to come back with emotion after pouring so much into the previous game, even when you know a title is at stake. I’m guessing that the beginning half of this week finds the Spartan players doing interviews and discussing with friends and family all the details of how they pulled off such a huge victory. Very difficult to focus on the upcoming game. And Penn St. has been looking for a marquee win since HC James Franklin took over. I expect the Nittany Lions to be focused. I look for the game to be low scoring but for Penn St. to raise some eyebrows as they build a two score lead early in the third quarter. Most will still think Michigan St. will win, and in fact the Spartans do come to life, completely shut down the Penn St. offense and cut the lead down to eight points going into the fourth quarter. A tense fourth quarter where Michigan St. gets close to scoring a couple times but doesn’t punch through comes to a nail-biting finish as the Spartans score a touchdown in the final moments to cut the lead to two. Two point conversion.......failed.
Yep, that’s how it’s gonna happen. End of the conference season.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Michigan St. by 11, so this prediction will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
STANFORD
10
17
17
31
NOTRE DAME
7
17
24
31

Both of these teams are good. But maybe not as good as most seem to think. Notre Dame’s offense is very good and can score on just about anybody. And the defense is solid and has some talented players who can make big plays, but I don’t think the Irish defense is good enough to consistently stop some of the upper echelon teams in the country. Therefore I figure a fair amount of scoring in this game and yet another Notre Dame down to the wire finish. Seven points either way is good enough for me to place a wager.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Stanford by 4, 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)
2
0
0
8
5
0
$125
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
3
0
0
7
7
0
-$35
TOM DEINHART (btn)
1
0
0
9
9
0
-$45
FROM THE COUCH
1
0
0
7
12
0
-$310

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





SEASON STATS

SPREAD RECORD
W
L
STRAIGHT UP
W
L
TOM DEINHART (btn)
23
22
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
37
9
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
20
24
BRENT YARINA (btn)
36
10
FROM THE COUCH
20
26
TOM DEINHART (btn)
35
11
BRENT YARINA (btn)
19
26
FROM THE COUCH
33
11
WITHIN 7
W
L
CLOSEST
W
L
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
19
27
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
19
25
FROM THE COUCH
16
30
TOM DEINHART (btn)
18
27
BRENT YARINA (btn)
16
30
FROM THE COUCH
18
28
TOM DEINHART (btn)
15
31
BRENT YARINA (btn)
17
28

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
1
8
1
9
4
6
8
2



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