College Recap Week 1 (9/6/11)

By Paul Bessire

Tuesday, September 6 at 5:30 PM ET
It is very important to us to be transparent and honest about our picks. Soon after the last game of each day, we make all of our subscriber content available for registered users. We're never going to hide anything. So even though we have to swap out articles in the archive to focus on new ones, articles never go away (just make sure to use the correct week and date in the URL - or ask us for the link)...

That is the paragraph that led off every weekend recap article from last football season. While we may not do the exact same thing every Monday (or Tuesday) throughout this year, those items are important to note. Of similar, if not greater, importance is the TrendFinder. With actual football results to use for complete testing, initial reviews of the TrendFinder look good. There are a couple kinks to work out, but we still anticipate launching within the next month or so (when we'll also have significantly more data on our pick performance populating the database). We'll keep you posted.

For this blog entry, we will recap the numbers and a few highlights from one of the most unique weekends of football (good and bad) we've ever seen, yet we'll start with some advice about how to get the most out of the site, particularly through the Play Analyzer. I'll also bring back a few points from previous blog entries and clarify how significant team changes are addressed.

Play Analyzer
The Play Analyzer is a new application that was on full display throughout the first weekend of the college football season. The tool allows you to import "consensus lines" - the most common side and total line for each game from over 30 books - and replay all games (you can look at a smaller, more specific subset if you prefer) in real-time. The plays are reordered and color-coded by confidence level and the play value recommendation is noted next to each pick (based on your normal play).

One great example of this came on Friday night when the Baylor-TCU total line inexplicably dropped to 52.5 (52 in some places). The OVER (52.5), which had been originally published as a 59.4% play at a line of 56, became the top overall play of the weekend (and remained such based on our records for consensus line movements), nearing 67% confidence, which would be a "3X" play. The OVER covered with five minutes left in the second quarter.

They are not all going to work that way, but, win or lose is not necessarily the point here. Finding value is. And this example is great evidence of the power of the Play Analyzer. Without having to change any lines or replay any individual games, loading the data at the consensus lines quickly and easily illustrated the strength of that play as it rose to the top of the week's picks. It is highly recommended that subscribers check in periodically to quickly run the Play Analyzer to look for advantageous line movement - while following play value recommendations when moves are made. No matter when or how often plays can be made, this tool ensures the best information possible.

Of course, there can be lines that move for specific reasons. In the event of drastic line movements, a quick look into recent news for those games is advised. When important players get injured, cut, suspended or demoted (more on that later) or if the weather changes drastically from our expectations, we will update the picks as soon as we can. In these situations, books typically take plays off the board, re-evaluate and then put up new lines. We hope to update each team's information before the new lines are up, but that is not always possible. Take note of the "last updated" note at the top of the Play Analyzer and trust that we are making necessary changes if the data has not been updated since the breaking news. We will also send out Pick Availability Alert Updates when major changes are made. If you are not sure what is causing the line movement and/or if we are going to update the play, feel free to ask us and we'll let you know as soon as we can. You should feel comfortable trusting the Play Analyzer in helping you find the best value (like it can right now since the NFL Week 1 "Lock of the Week" has already moved a half a point in our favor, making it a "green" play at almost 63%).

To learn more about the Play Analyzer, check out our Football Video Tutorials.

Updating Plays:
Many of you have already seen that we have updated the Tennessee @ Jacksonville play due to the Jaguars' release of quarterback David Garrard. When doing so, we updated the Predictalator Picks, Boxscore and Fantasy Projections. We also sent out a Pick Availability Alert email to note the updated play. While all player personnel moves can result in slight differences in our projections, we will update the picks, data, boxscores and fantasy information and send out emails when important information is learned that is different than our original expectation and has a direct impact on the value of the play. Typically, quarterback changes will evoke this update, as will mass suspensions, injuries to elite players and dramatic weather changes. We believe that those who subscribe to our information want the most accurate pick information possible and that those who subscribe to our emails regarding the availability of such picks would also like to know when they are updated, so it is important to provide these services.

However, since the performance of our picks is vital to our reputation and to our integrity, there are some things that we will not do. We will not ever change Paul's Picks or the Lock of the Week after publishing. Much of the foundation of our business is staked on these plays and many subscribers (rightfully) play these picks as soon as they are posted. We cannot change them after the fact. Fortunately, Locks and Paul's Picks rarely include games with uncertain situations at key positions. Also, as with our daily sports, we will not make any changes to the Predictalator Picks tables within two hours of the first game of a day (changes will never be without notice and only occur in necessary situations). Data for the Play Analyzer and Customizable Predictalator will be maintained at all times, updating as needed (and noted).

Previous Blogs:
Previous blogs can be a great resource for tips on bankroll management and expectations. While I do not want to rehash everything we have ever discussed, to save you the time of hunting through my ramblings to find interesting information, below are some of the more valuable entries. The most important theme to the blogs and for getting the most out of this site: Value is value - value should be reflected in our confidence for each pick and enacted upon appropriately. Here are some useful blogs:

College Week 1 Performance:
There is a reason that I did not lead this blog with UNDEFEATED PAUL'S PICKS WEEK 1!!!. Weather and some frustrating bad luck has put us in an odd position with pick performance from Week 1. While it is true that our Paul's Picks went undefeated ATS this week - including an outright win by Northwestern, as predicted even without Dan Persa - the Lock of the Week, Michigan -13.5, was cancelled/pushed by most books because the game did not complete, leaving us in a tough spot. Michigan was covering by 10.5 points late in the third quarter, when the game and the wagers were washed out.

Unfortunately, that was not the end of our bad luck. The last three ATS Top Plays of the Day have been Michigan (-13.5), West Virginia (-21) and Miami (+3). West Virginia, which was winning by exactly 21 and cruising over Marshall when that game was called due to lightning. Miami was covering the spread, trailing 26-24 with 39 seconds left on fourth-and-four from midfield when Maryland's Cameron Chism intercepted a pass and then began to deliberately hurt his team's chances of winning the game (though I don't assume he thought of it that way) by returning the pick 54 yards (trying to break tackles in the rain no less) for a touchdown that, ultimately (when the extra point was missed), kept Miami in the game. I genuinely don't want to be too hard on the kid. He gets a pick six without context in his stats, a SportsCenter highlight (though I was very glad to see that this play was not included in "Top Plays") and the joys of a crowd behind him. BUT, if he had knocked the ball down, or either taken a knee or run out of bounds after the interception, the game would have been over. Throw in a Oklahoma-Tulsa game with no points scored in the last 10:49 (apparently, we needed a Sooner assistant coach to have a son on the team as a back-up quarterback to get the garbage TD that would have covered the OVER... you know, or either of those two second half possessions that ended in turnovers inside the opponent 15 to be TDs), a Notre Dame-USF game where, somehow, the weather did not disrupt full completion of the game and everything that possibly could against the Irish did, and a BYU team that netted 52% more total yards than Ole Miss, yet still only won by one point, and I very much look forward to the week (again - I can't say it's never happened, just tough in Week 1) when the luck goes our way in games like that (more than just a UCLA missed extra point - because the consensus line on Saturday was Houston -2.5).

All told, I'm happy with Week 1. The Lock looked good. Paul's Picks went undefeated. The Top ATS Plays of the Day were either 3-1-1 or 2-1-2 depending on how you view it, yet looked like 5-0 on the field. And, with covers from other games like the Baylor-TCU OVER and the Pitt-Buffalo UNDER, the Play Analyzer was a great success in Week 1. Truthfully, the only obvious losses, the swings and misses, that I see on the entire board from Week 1 appear to be New Mexico State +7 at home against Ohio and the likelihood of BYU and Ole Miss both playing and succeeding at a high-temp on offense. And either of those could have still easily covered. For Week 1, as we go forward, I'm very pleased with our characterization of these college teams.

Here are our win/loss stats from Week 1 in College Football using playable (53%+ to cover) picks from our published articles (Play Analyzer/Customizable Predictalator plays appear to have provided even better results and stronger plays). We will update these at least until we have the TrendFinder, at which time the TrendFinder will likely supplement the blog posts:

  • All Playable Games ATS: 58% (15-11)
  • All Playable Games O/U: 59% (19-13)
  • Paul's Picks ATS: 100% (3-0, 4-0 with Michigan -13.5)
  • Lock of the Week: 0-0, 1-0 with Michigan -13.5
  • ATS Top Plays of the Day: 2-1-2, 3-1-1 with Michigan -13.5
  • Picks that Cover 60%+: 1-1, 2-1 with Michigan -13.5 (though far more with Play Analyzer)
  • Normal+ Picks (57%+): 59% (13-9)

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