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 7, 2015

BIG TEN FOOTBALL ATS PREDICTIONS WEEK 6


Eight games to look at this week. A full slate of seven conference games and a Notre Dame game. As of now it looks like five of ‘em, give or take one, will be plays.
My current record: 2-3


CRYSTAL BALL

WEEK OF 10-10-2015

WISCONSIN
27
NEBRASKA
10
OHIO ST
34
MARYLAND
10
PURDUE
24
MINNESOTA
19
INDIANA
24
PENN ST
17
IOWA
28
ILLINOIS
14
MICHIGAN
16
NORTHWESTERN
13
MICHIGAN ST
38
RUTGERS
10
NOTRE DAME
35
NAVY
27

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 prediction that varies from the game time spread 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.)


1
2
3
Final
NEBRASKA
0
3
10
10
WISCONSIN
10
13
20
27

I like Wisconsin’s defense in this matchup. I think it will force Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong into throwing a few interceptions. I’m guessing Armstrong’s confidence is already shaken after last week’s debacle, although sometimes a competitor comes back strong after such a setback. And I think Armstrong probably would bounce back strong if HC Mike Riley featured him more as a runner than a passer. But I believe Riley is set on running his passing offense which I think will hurt the ‘Huskers chances in this one. In fact, I’m guessing Nebraska’s whole team is lacking confidence as this program is on the brink of going under for the season as the fan base begins to grumble about the new HC and his 2-3 debut. And under such circumstances a home game can sometimes be a bad thing as it’s possible the boo-birds could start crowing the first time something goes wrong. Wisconsin is coming off a tuff loss as well and struggled offensively. QB Joel Stave had a horrible game and has a history of contracting a case of the “yips” - a term they like to use at BTN to define psychological issues. So certainly Stave and Wisconsin’s offense is a concern. But I don’t think Stave has to be great here, he just has to be not bad. In fact, I don’t think Wisconsin as a team is all that great right now. I just think Nebraska isn’t very good.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Nebraska by 1.5, so this prediction will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
OHIO ST
7
10
27
34
MARYLAND
0
7
7
10

I called for Ohio St. to have a break out game last week and get back to the form the Buckeyes displayed toward the end of last season’s championship run. Didn’t happen. Most everyone seems to think it will eventually, so I suppose it could happen against a weak Maryland team. But I’m calling for an Ohio St. offensive performance similar to what we saw last week against Indiana. A slow start that only produces ten first half points. Maryland isn’t that bad defensively. It’s just that the Terrapins have been terrible offensively. Which of course, puts a lot of pressure on their defense. So terrible offense or not, I’ll need Maryland  to put up at least some points against a Buckeyes defense that so far, has been merely average. I think they will somehow – if not with the offense maybe with a William Likely punt or interception return- and make the final point spread not close, but closer than what most might expect.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Ohio St. by 33, so this prediction will most likely qualify as a play.
**LATE EDIT** - I’m gonna have to use my disclaimer and back off of this prediction. The media sharks are circling Maryland HC Randy Edsall with reports that Edsall will most definitely be fired at the end of the season if not as early as after this game. Whether it’s true or not, this kind of public news can affect a team’s performance. Of course I knew Maryland was struggling when I handicapped this game last Sunday, so the Maryland folks probably weren’t too happy with Edsall. But once the media gets involved – which occurred during the week – it can have an effect that needs to be considered when handicapping. This game will not count.

1
2
3
Final
PURDUE
0
7
14
24
MINNESOTA
7
10
13
19

This is a good matchup. Even before the season began, when I thought Minnesota would be much better than they’ve shown so far, I figured Purdue to win this one. Just had a hunch. Purdue’s defense missed a lot of tackles in the first half of last week’s close loss at Michigan St. But they shored things up in the second half and the offense is coming around as QB David Blough gains confidence. But Purdue’s improvement is a “baby-step” kind of thing as they seem to take maybe one and a half steps forward, then one step back. So a Purdue victory is far from a slam dunk in this game. A good part of why I like the Boilermakers here is that Minnesota has been struggling lately. QB Mitch Leidner has been throwing poorly and the running game is suffering as a result. I think HC Jerry Kill has too much invested in Leidner to give him the hook. But if he’s considering it, Purdue would be the easiest opponent he could find to give it a shot against. And a new QB can be shaky during his first minutes of playing time. I like Purdue in a game that will be close throughout.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Minnesota by 3, so there is a good chance that this prediction will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
PENN ST
7
10
17
17
INDIANA
7
14
21
24

I handicapped this one knowing that Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld is banged up, and may not even play at all. I’m still going with Indiana. Penn St. wasn’t on a TV channel I have access to last Saturday, so I didn’t get to see their closer than expected victory over Army. But the last time I saw the Nittany Lions play, I liked that they finally adjusted their horrific offensive scheme somewhat and was moving QB Christian Hackenberg around in the pocket. And instead of relying solely on Hackenberg, they were starting to put together a decent running game. But a mere twenty points and a six point win over Army makes me think the offense still hasn’t progressed very far. Indiana has a good offense, although not as good without Sudfeld, and while the defense is usually one of the nation’s worst, they aren’t quite as terrible as usual this season. And last week’s near upset over the top ranked team in the nation has this team believing in itself. I’ve been cashing in on Penn St.’s lame offense for over a year now. I’m gonna run the same play until it gets stopped. Penn St. loses at home.
As of the date of this post, there is no line as the oddsmakers wait for an injury status on Sudfeld.

1
2
3
Final
IOWA
7
14
21
28
ILLINOIS
0
0
7
14

I like Iowa at Kinnick Stadium here. Tuff place for Illinois to try to steal a win. And Iowa’s defense might be better than any defense Illinois has faced so far. The Hawkeyes are coming off a big win at Wisconsin and could possibly have a let down here. They also have a history in recent years of turning in head scratching losses. No one can see the head scratchers coming, and if the Hawkeyes do let down, I don’t think it will be so dramatic that that they lose to Illinois. Illinois is on the rise, but I don’t think they’ve reached a level where they can win this game. QB Wes Lunt has a good arm, but I’m not completely sold on him and expect two interceptions from Lunt against a good Iowa defense. I do think Illinois has risen to the level where they put up a good enough fight to keep this one competitive throughout most of the game, though.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Iowa by 10.5, so it is unlikely that this prediction will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
MICHIGAN
3
9
16
16
N'RTHW'STERN
0
7
7
13

Great matchup here. Both teams are playing above most everyone’s expectations, although I did expect good things from Michigan this season. Northwestern is surprising me, though. Both teams feature great defense. Michigan’s offense has been a little better so far, but not by much. Northwestern has a freshman starting at QB and he’s been improving with each game. Michigan has a veteran starting at QB who’s been playing average at best. I look for only two touchdowns combined in this game and a bunch of field goals. I give the edge to Michigan at home, but a Northwestern victory wouldn’t surprise me.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Michigan by 8, so there is a small chance that this prediction will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
RUTGERS
0
3
10
10
MICHIGAN ST
14
24
31
38

I’m going with the notion that Rutgers isn’t very good to begin with, and that the off the field turmoil is still having an effect, although maybe not as profound as a few weeks ago. Michigan St. has been rather ho-hum lately, methodically jumping out to an early lead and then coasting the rest of the way to victory. I wouldn’t be surprised if they bring the same formula, I just think Rutgers will be so bad that the Spartans won’t be able to help but win this one by four touchdowns.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Michigan St. by 14, so this prediction will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
NOTRE DAME
7
14
28
35
NAVY
7
24
27
27

Notre Dame is coming off a tuff loss at Clemson last Saturday so a letdown is very likely. And Navy’s option always gives Notre Dame fits. The Irish did, however, handle the option package that Georgia Tech presented a few weeks ago. But I think Navy’s option game is better than Ga Tech’s due in no small part to Navy QB Keenan Reynolds. Reynolds has a lot of experience as the Navy QB and could be considered among the best to ever play for the Midshipmen. And he’s also not a bad passer, at least by an option team’s standards. But Notre Dame has more size and overall talent so I like the Irish to sweat out a closer than most would expect victory.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Notre Dame by 14.5, so it is very possible that this prediction will qualify as a play.





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.
ATS  PLAY STANDINGS
LAST SATURDAY
TOTAL
FTC $
W
L
T
W
L
T
BRENT YARINA (btn)
2
0
0
2
0
0
$100
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
1
0
0
1
0
0
$50
FROM THE COUCH
2
2
0
2
2
0
-$10
TOM DEINHART (btn)
0
1
0
0
1
0
-$55






SEASON STATS


SPREAD RECORD
W
L
STRAIGHT UP
W
L
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
4
2
BRENT YARINA (btn)
5
1
FROM THE COUCH
3
3
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
5
1
BRENT YARINA (btn)
3
3
FROM THE COUCH
4
1
TOM DEINHART (btn)
2
3
TOM DEINHART (btn)
4
2
WITHIN 7
W
L
CLOSEST
W
L
FROM THE COUCH
2
4
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
4
2
BRENT YARINA (btn)
2
4
FROM THE COUCH
3
3
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
1
5
BRENT YARINA (btn)
3
3
TOM DEINHART (btn)
1
5
TOM DEINHART (btn)
2
3

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. 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. 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
3
0
4
2
2
2
2






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