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 21, 2015

BIG TEN FOOTBALL ATS WEEK 8 PREDICTIONS


Only five games to look at this week. Notre Dame is off so all of ‘em are conference games. As of now it looks like two of ‘em will be plays, possibly a third.
My current record: 3-8


CRYSTAL BALL

WEEK OF 10-24-2015

PENN ST
27
MARYLAND
10
MICHIGAN ST
42
INDIANA
24
NEBRASKA
31
NORTHWESTERN
21
ILLINOIS
21
WISCONSIN
16
OHIO ST
49
RUTGERS
20

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
MARYLAND
0
7
7
10
PENN ST
7
17
24
27

I’ve been hard on Penn St.’s offense since James Franklin took over as the HC. I still wouldn’t call it great by any stretch, but, even though the Nittany Lions lost by four touchdowns last Saturday, I still say this offense has improved. They’ve found a running game with Saquon Barkley and QB Christian Hackenberg is actually showing some competitiveness. I think the Nittany Lions will be able to move the ball against a Maryland defense that isn’t as bad as the statistics would indicate, but certainly wouldn’t be considered great. That should take some pressure off of a Penn St. defense that is solid, especially up front. Maryland is coming off a bye week after giving top ranked Ohio St. a surprisingly competitive first half. Competitive or not, HC Randy Edsall was fired shortly after the game. I guess the idea is to get a jump on finding a new coach, but even though I never much cared for Edsall, I don’t really agree with firing the guy this early in the season. Interim coach Mike Locksley was the OC so it will be business as usual for the Terps. Thanks to the media, the players were aware prior to the game against Ohio St. that Edsall was gonna get the ax yet didn’t seem affected much during the game. So while I think this kind of shakeup is bound to have some effect, I really don’t expect much change in the Terps’ play. Which is to say they probably won’t play well enough to win. QB Perry Hills won the starting job back after losing it earlier in the season, and had some success running the ball against the Buckeyes as he gained 170 rushing yards. But passing, not so good. Maryland is hurting for a passing game which translates into an offense that should be easy to stop. Early in the season I never thought I’d be picking Penn St. to win any game by more than two touchdowns, but I just can’t see Maryland doing much scoring in this one. With a 5-2 record, Penn St. still has something to play for while Maryland probably isn’t far from tanking the season. There’s also some added motivation for Penn St. as Maryland won last season’s game which was heated up by a pre-game scuffle due to the Maryland captains refusing to shake hands prior to the game.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Penn St. by 6.5, so this prediction will most likely qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
MICHIGAN ST
7
28
35
42
INDIANA
0
14
17
24

I have to account for a Michigan St. letdown in this game. But I also have to account for Indiana’s porous defense. The Spartans have been playing down to inferior competition most of the season, so I suppose Michigan St. could get knocked off if they take this game too lightly. Indiana has always been able to put points on the board under the HC Kevin Wilson regime, so the Hoosiers might be able to outscore the Spartans. I’m looking for a combined 42 first half points in this one - providing Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld stays healthy. He’s been banged up a bit, but he looked perfectly mobile in last Saturday’s shootout against Rutgers. The Hoosiers lost that one so they need to steal a win somewhere to get back on the track towards bowl eligibility – the pinnacle for the Hoosiers program. The mountain top. The golden dream, the ultimate goal. A chance to play on a weeknight in late December in something like the Poulan Weedeater Potato Bowl or whatever.  The Spartans are trying to protect an undefeated season and a shot at a national championship, so I expect them to come out with a sense of urgency before they go flat. I figure Michigan St. to score a touchdown early and then another one early in the second quarter before losing some intensity as Indiana finds its way into the end zone. From there I think Michigan St. maintains the lead throughout the game behind big strikes on offense, most likely coming from QB Connor Cook’s passes to his talented WRs. Indiana will keep coming though, and pull within a score or two on a couple of occasions. But just when things get interesting, I figure Michigan St. to force a turnover from Sudfeld, who can be very good, but can also be inaccurate at times.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Michigan St. by 16, so there is virtually no chance that this prediction will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
NEBRASKA
0
10
24
31
N'RTHW'STERN
3
3
13
21

The ‘Huskers got a nice win last Saturday proving they aren’t as hapless as their “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory” M.O. would indicate. Northwestern, on the other hand, got thumped for the second week in a row and appears to be in a tailspin. I really like Northwestern HC Pat Fitzgerald. More for his personality than for his coaching abilities, though. He’s a class act who says all the right things during interviews, but this sudden about face during the season isn’t an uncommon occurrence under his watch. Granted, the ‘Cats did face a couple of good opponents, and a case could be made that Fitz should be credited for inspiring his team to overachieve in winning its first five games. I think he’ll need to work some more motivational magic to win this one, though. Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson can be good at times, but is still too young and inexperienced to be consistently effective. And that’s become a problem. Northwestern had been able to work around the problem with exceptional defense early in the season, but now that opposing offenses are hitting their mid-season stride, the Wildcats defense is finding it harder to hold opponents below the low number the offense is putting up. I can’t say that I entirely trust Nebraska, though. There’re a few reasons not to. Of course, there are the boneheaded losses. There’s also the fact that they hired a lifelong .500 coach who’s living up to his record. And there’s the “ya just never know” QB. Tommy Armstrong can be great. He has a strong arm and is a threat as a runner. But he makes a lot of poor decisions and can sometimes, not always, be way off target with his passes. I almost have to consider him for a turnover whenever I handicap a Nebraska game. But I think the Nebraska defense has been playing well enough to force Thorson into even more turnovers than Armstrong might commit. I look for this game to be tight through most of the game with Nebraska obtaining its ten point lead early in the fourth quarter and shutting out Northwestern the rest of the way.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Nebraska by 7.5, so there is virtually no chance that this prediction will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
ILLINOIS
0
14
14
21
WISCONSIN
3
10
13
16

I’m going out on a limb with this one. The Illini are hungry. Hungry for success. Something none of these players have tasted during their time at Illinois. Well, I guess they did go to a bowl last season, but it was one of those aforementioned Weedeater Potato type bowls. This season they’ve already knocked off Nebraska, a team that lost to Wisconsin the following week by only two points. And both Wisconsin and Illinois played a good undefeated Iowa team to a relatively close finish. So applying a little deducement to the “common opponent” barometer tells me that Illinois should at least be an even match with the Badgers. I think the home field and the hunger for success will be enough for Illinois to pull off the upset here. Wisconsin has a very good defense and a good QB in Joel Stave. But the running game hasn’t been very good at all. I figured the Badgers’ ground game to get well against a poor Purdue defense last Saturday, but Wisconsin only managed 96 rushing yards. So Wisconsin has been relying on Stave’s arm to win games and for the most part, has been successful. Stave’s good, but he’s not so good that he can be put in a position to win the game every week and not occasionally falter. Very few QBs are that good. And this looks like a good spot for the Badgers’ one dimensional offense to fail them. The Illini defense, which has been one of the conference’s weakest as recently as last season, is much improved. And it could be coincidence, but I don’t think so when I say the stupid mistakes and penalties disappeared with former HC Tim Beckman. New HC Bill Cubit seems to have tightened up the ship. The one thing that concerns me, though, is that I’m not entirely sold on Illinois QB Wes Lunt. He has all the tools, but does he have the heart? He’ll need to be tuff in this game.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Wisconsin by 7, so this prediction will qualify as a play.

1
2
3
Final
RUTGERS
14
14
14
20
OHIO ST
14
28
42
49

Rutgers hung tuff with Michigan St. a couple of games back so they’ve shown they can trade blows with a superior opponent who takes them lightly. Ohio St. seems to be improving but I’ve got to assume they’re gonna take Rutgers lightly. The Buckeyes have already struggled to put away Indiana and Maryland, why not add Rutgers to the list? I figure Rutgers to surprise Ohio St. with a couple of early scores before the Buckeyes impose their superior talent. The Ohio St. QB battle seems to be heating up again, which could spark a bit of intensity at the position. That might hurt Cardale Jones if he starts. The pressure is on the incumbent. The backup, J.T. Barrett hasn’t as much to lose and will probably come in and play great. And great QB play usually translates into great offense. I look for the Buckeyes to hang close to 50 on a Scarlet Knight defense that gave up just as many points last Saturday. The Buckeyes defense hasn’t been all that great this season, so I’m a bit concerned that I may not be figuring Rutgers for enough scoring in this one. But the superstars on the Buckeyes’ D-Line haven’t been living up to expectations so I think they’ll be looking to start turning it up a notch.
As of the date of this post, the line sits at Ohio St. by 21, so there is a good chance 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)
1
2
0
3
2
0
$40
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
1
1
0
2
2
0
-$10
TOM DEINHART (btn)
3
1
0
3
3
0
-$15
FROM THE COUCH
1
1
0
3
7
0
-$235

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




SEASON STATS

SPREAD RECORD
W
L
STRAIGHT UP
W
L
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
9
9
BRENT YARINA (btn)
15
3
TOM DEINHART (btn)
8
9
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
14
4
FROM THE COUCH
7
11
TOM DEINHART (btn)
14
4
BRENT YARINA (btn)
6
12
FROM THE COUCH
13
4
WITHIN 7
W
L
CLOSEST
W
L
BRENT YARINA (btn)
6
12
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
8
10
TOM DEINHART (btn)
6
12
FROM THE COUCH
7
11
FROM THE COUCH
5
13
BRENT YARINA (btn)
6
12
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
5
13
TOM DEINHART (btn)
6
11


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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