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 seven games to look at this week. It appears as though two will be a play, and two others have a chance to be a play. I’m short on time this week so my comments are brief.
My current record: 6-11
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.
Earlier in the season I probably would have figured Iowa by even more than this. But Iowa is on a three game losing streak and all three were big games. Now comes Illinois on the road. Maybe they’re anxious to right the ship, but I figure the Hawkeyes to be a bit deflated and maybe lacking in confidence. Illinois has been improving on the offensive side of the ball, although star RB Reggie Corbin was banged up last Saturday. The Illinois defense ain’t very good, but they try hard.
As of now, Iowa is favored by 14 points, which is exactly how I’ve got it, so this one won’t be a play.
Looks like this one is going to be a play. Of course I like Michigan to win, but I’ve got this game tighter than the oddsmakers do. Michigan has the big showdown against Ohio St. after this one, so I’m figuring a “look ahead” situation here. The Wolves started slow last week against Rutgers and I figure them to do the same this week. Indiana is better than Rutgers, so I don’t figure Michigan to be able to recover as easily. I also think that once Michigan has the game under control, they may be careful with their starters as they don’t want any injuries going into the Ohio St. game. And they also may not want to put too much on film for the Buckeyes. The concerns I would have, or where things could backfire on me, is that this game is at Michigan, and that Indiana needs to win one of its last two games to go to a bowl. Indiana’s best chance of doing that would be next Saturday against Purdue in the season finale, so the Hoosiers may also shut things done if this game gets out of reach.
As of now, Michigan is favored by 28 points. I would take Indiana plus 24 points or more, so this game will most likely be a play.
Maryland plays better at home and Ohio St. has Michigan coming up next Saturday, so I’m not calling for a huge margin of victory here. But I am calling for an Ohio St. win. Maryland QB Kasim Hill may not play, but it doesn’t matter. Maryland isn’t any better or worse when he does play, so my prediction stands either way.
As of now, Ohio St. is favored by 14 points, which is exactly how I’ve got it, so this one won’t be a play.
Michigan St. has a great defense, but Nebraska’s offense appears to be able to score on any team at this point in the season, especially in front of their home crowd. Michigan St. has been struggling on offense, due mainly to poor QB play. Starter Brian Lewerke injured his throwing shoulder and has been missing badly with his passes. But Nebraska’s defense isn’t good at all, so I figure Michigan St. to score more than usual. I’m calling for a shootout that could go either way, but I like the home field advantage, and figure the Michigan St. QB situation to be costly.
As of now, Michigan St. is favored by 2 points. I would need 3 points or more to take Nebraska, so this one has a chance to be a play.
Of course I’ve got Penn St. winning this one, but not by as many points as the oddsmakers do, so this one could be a play. I cashed in on Rutgers a while back when the Scarlet Knights were getting a big number against Wisconsin. I think this is a similar situation. Rutgers is bad, but lately not as bad as most might think. Of course they struggled against Michigan’s defense last Saturday, but who doesn’t struggle against Michigan’s defense? Penn St. certainly did. In fact, both of these teams lost to Michigan by the exact same score. So they’re an even match, right? Well, not quite. But Penn St. may not be as good as most might think. Rutgers plays better at home, and Penn St. QB Trace McSorley is a bit banged up. My biggest concern here is that Rutgers may be ready to pack it in for the season and will just roll over for the Nittany Lions.
As of now, Penn St. is favored by 27 points. I would need 27 points or more to take Rutgers, so this one has a chance to be a play.
Minnesota is coming off their best game of the season and Northwestern has already clinched the West Division. The oddsmakers have this one tighter than I do, probably for those reasons. Maybe a bit of a letdown for Northwestern and Minnesota plays much better at home. But I’m not yet completely sold on Minnesota – two weeks ago they got thumped at Illinois – and Northwestern has been defying the oddsmakers all season.
As of now, Minnesota is favored by 1.5 points. I would take Northwestern minus 3 points or less, so this game will probably be a play.
I handicapped this one under the assumption that Wisconsin QB Alex Hornibrook will be playing. I also used the assumption that Purdue HC Jeff Brohm would at some point during the week address his status concerning a job offer from Louisville. Hornibrook is listed as doubtful and Brohm has yet to assure Purdue that he is staying, so I’ve got all kinds of reasons to back out of this one. It doesn’t matter, though. This one doesn’t look like it’s going to be a play. But I don’t want to stand by my prediction if Hornibrook is out, or if Brohm’s situation appears to be a distraction.
As of now, Purdue is favored by 4.5 points, which is pretty close to how I see it, so this game most likely will not 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.).