I’ll be making predictions on all conference games and using them for the purpose of trying to select winners vs. the Vegas point spread. There are six games to look at this week. Four of them have a chance to be a play. I’ll have to wait until I get the lines on Saturday to see how many actually do become plays.
My current record: 4-7
Until gambling becomes legal in my state, I’m sticking with my regular source so I won’t know the point spread that’s available to me until game day, which will essentially be the closing line. So I’ll have to wait until then to see if I get the number I need to make a play (wager). At the bottom of my write-ups, I submit the number I’ll need to make a play, and how that number compares to the current line.
Neither defense is very good so I’m calling for lots of scoring in this one. Some of the Illinois players might be about ready to pack it in. Things seem to be unraveling. I don’t know if there’s been any ramped up “hot seat” talk concerning HC Lovie Smith, but I would guess there has to be some grumbling around campus. But I doubt it’s coming from the inside. My guess is that Smith’s job is safe at least through the season and maybe into the next. Nonetheless, when the fans and media start to turn on the coach, some of the players start to do the same. The DC just resigned due to health reasons (apparently), the QB situation is unstable, and there seems to be something wrong schematically on both sides of the ball. The defense looked awful last Saturday in giving up 63 points to Maryland, and I’ve complained on this site about the offense not utilizing its best players enough, namely the RBs. But, this game is at home, and Illinois has some talent on offense, so I do expect Illinois to put a good number of points on the board. Minnesota is coming off their first conference win and currently is in a better place mentally, I think. I figure Minnesota to be more inspired and focused than the Illini and consequently get enough defensive stops to outscore the Illini.
As of now, Minnesota is favored by 9.5 points. I would take Minnesota minus 10 points or less, so this game has a good chance to be a play.
This is a tough one to predict. I have to control my tendency to excessively downgrade the teams that cost me the previous Saturday, and this week, that team is Iowa. I actually think Iowa has the better team, but Purdue is smarter. The Iowa defense is outstanding, but I think Purdue HC Jeff Brohm will come up with a game plan that will give his offense a chance to move the ball. Purdue has good talent on offense, but struggled a bit last Saturday against another good defense in Michigan St. QB David Blough will have to be at his best in this game. Iowa QB Nate Stanley had a bad game last Saturday against Penn St. and I’m guessing his confidence will be shaken. I expect Purdue to load the box against the run and take their chances with Stanley. But who knows how Stanley will respond? He may bounce back with a great game, which would be kinda cool. I feel bad for the kid; he made some huge mistakes last Saturday. I don’t figure Stanley to play as badly as he did last Saturday, but I do expect at least one interception. Purdue’s defense has been playing much better the past few weeks, but they still have some soft spots, so I figure Iowa to find their way to the end zone a few times as well. This one could go either way, but I’m giving a small advantage to Purdue due to home field, the smarter coaching staff, and the smarter QB.
As of now, Purdue is favored by 2.5 points, which is close to how I see it, so this game has almost no chance to be a play.
I handicapped this game before Maryland HC D.J. Durkin was reinstated, and if I was going with Maryland, I would back off of this game. But, compared to my prediction, the current line indicates I should take Michigan St., and I will if Michigan St. is laying only two points or less. I suppose Maryland could rally past the chaos surrounding them this week, but I figure the distraction to be detrimental. Maryland plays well at home, but the offense doesn’t do well against really good defenses and Michigan St. has been playing really good defense lately. I have to be concerned that Michigan St. has Ohio St. coming up in the next game, so maybe a trap game here. And I also have to be concerned about the long road trip to Maryland. I’m not sure which Michigan St. QB is going to start, but after watching backup QB Rocky Lombardi’s performance in last Saturday’s win, I would stick with my prediction with either QB. Maryland has a good defense of their own, but will be without star LB Tre Watson in the first half as Watson was kicked out of last Saturday’s game for tackling…er, I mean targeting. I can understand why the oddsmakers have this game tighter than I do, Maryland has some talent and they are at home. But the Terps haven’t held up well against the upper half of the conference, which is where I’d rate Michigan St.
As of now, Michigan St. is favored by 2.5 points. I would take Michigan St. minus 2 points or less, so this game has a chance to be a play.
Michigan players are calling this season the “revenge tour” and the Wolverines have some revenge to exact in this one as Penn St. blew them out by almost 30 points last season. I’m not sure how much the “revenge tour” thing will affect the actual game. It may provide some motivation for the Michigan players at the beginning and end of the game, but once they get into the heat of the game I think it will simply come down to which is the better team. I think that team is Michigan, on both sides of the ball. Penn St. is a good team, so I don’t think this will be a cakewalk for the Wolverines, but over the course of the game, I figure the Wolverines to have much more success. I like the Michigan offense to move the ball methodically, and I like the Michigan defense to swarm all over Penn St. QB Trace McSorley. I can’t discount McSorley completely, though. I figure a couple of TDs from the Penn St. offense, most likely a result of big plays from McSorley; he’s that good. But for the most part, I figure the Penn St. offense to struggle against the best defense in the conference. And I hope I’m wrong about this, but I have a feeling McSorley might get knocked out of this game, given the ways the Penn St offense uses him. I like Michigan to score first and never trail in this game, although I do think Penn St. will make a run and get close to catching the Wolves somewhere in the middle of the game.
As of now, Michigan is favored by 10.5 points. I would take Michigan minus 10 points or less, so this game has a chance to be a play.
Ohio St. has had two weeks to prepare for this one. But, in a way, so has Nebraska. I didn’t watch Nebraska play last Saturday. Who’s Beth Cookman? I knew a Beth Cook once, she was pretty hot. But I don’t know nothin’ about no Beth Cookman so I didn’t want to form any new opinions about Nebraska based on what amounted to a scrimmage. Ohio St. has been showing unexpected weaknesses through most of the season. Most wrote these weaknesses off as “playing down to competition” or a lack of inspiration. Up until the Buckeyes got thumped at Purdue, that is. So now the question is, did the Buckeyes patch up their holes in the last two weeks? Ohio St. HC Urban Meyer is one of the best, so I would guess to some degree, the answer would be yes. But I don’t think two weeks is enough time to completely stop the bleeding. And speaking of playing down to competition, the Buckeyes haven’t faced much competition at all. Penn St. was a good win, and Purdue is a good team, but I wouldn’t call the Boilermakers upper level in this conference. Meanwhile, Nebraska has been battling, and improving against, some of the heavy hitters of the conference. But improvement or not, I wouldn’t rate Nebraska any higher than mid-level. And Ohio St., with all those five-star players, is still near or maybe even at the top of the conference. Nebraska’s improvement has been on the offensive side of the ball, mostly due to QB Adrian Martinez, the kid is the real deal. Ohio St. has struggled some on defense so I’m calling for a big number from Nebraska. Many fans and analysts are critical of the Buckeyes offense, but much of that is relative to the standards Ohio St. has established for their program. This is still a very good offense and they’ll be facing a very bad defense. I like Ohio St. to open up a comfortable lead early against yet another sub-level opponent, but the pesky Huskers won’t go away as they keep finding their way into the end zone, although not near as often as Ohio St.
As of now, Ohio St. is favored by 18.5 points. The line would have to move down to 14 points for me to take Ohio St., so it is unlikely that this game will be a play.
I handicapped this game with the assumption that Wisconsin QB Alex Hornibrook will be playing. If he doesn’t, I would discount my prediction. But for betting purposes, I would still play this game because I’m leaning towards Rutgers in this one. So no Hornibrook would be even better for me. I know, I know. Why would I even consider taking Rutgers? I just have a feeling Wisconsin isn’t going to play very well. I think they’ll easily get the win, but it’ll be a sluggish performance with a couple turnovers and drive killing penalties. And I don’t figure HC Paul Chryst as the type to run up the score. Rutgers surprised most everyone in their last outing when they gave Northwestern all they could handle. ‘Course, that game was at Rutgers where the Scarlet Knights usually play better. And Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson played poorly. A big part of the reason Rutgers has been so bad this season is that starting QB Artur Sitkowski has been a turnover dispenser. Multiple interceptions a game has pretty much been the norm. Sitkowski didn’t throw any picks in the Northwestern game. I’m not going to assume Sitkowski has completely cleaned up his act in just a couple weeks, but I am calling for no more than three interceptions in this game, which will be ok considering the track record. Any more than that would mean trouble for me if I do end up taking Rutgers. I feel like doing the Chevy Chase/Clark Griswold “this is crazy” shtick, because Rutgers might actually turn out to be a play for me. I wouldn’t be too disappointed if it doesn’t though.
As of now, Wisconsin favored is by 30 points. I would take Rutgers plus 27 points or more, so this game will probably be a play.
My method is to begin making my predictions for the upcoming week on Sunday while Saturday’s games are still fresh in my mind. I don’t look at the Vegas point spreads until I’m done handicapping all of the games. If the point spread that I predict for a particular game differs from the closing line by seven or more points, I consider it a “play”,—i.e. a game that I would wager on. If the difference is less than seven points, I back off. I’ll also back off if a report comes out during the week (after I’ve already handicapped the game) that there is an issue involving the starting quarterback (an injury I did not know about) or the head coach (health issues, scandal, etc.).