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College Football News and Notes Week 5

Re: College Football News and Notes Week 5

Ferringo Examines Early Line Moves
by Robert Ferringo

Being able to properly read and assess the opening line in college and professional football seems like one of the most basic and simple components of football betting. However, analyzing the opening line and initial movements off of it is a skill that takes years to master. In fact, even handicappers that have been in the game for decades still have difficulty explaining why a certain line may move a certain way during the week - and even more trouble still deciphering what that movement portends.

Basically, the opening lines are created by institutions like the Las Vegas Sports Consultants and then passed on to their clients, the sportsbooks. The books then open their lines to sharp bettors and players who wager tens of thousands of dollars. Those players get their initial action on certain sides and totals, and the books then adjust the lines before releasing them to the general public in an attempt to balance out the action. It's a constant shadow dance between the books and the betting public.

Each week we're going to analyze the opening lines with the greatest variance from their original release from the LVSC. These "steam" moves are indicative of where the "smart money" began and is usually a predictor of where the money will continue to roll. Our goal is to make sense of exactly where the value is on some of these situations for either the underdog or the favorite. Again, this is a delicate science and I'm not going to presume to have all the answers. But together we'll try to sift through the games that the sharp action is on and see if we can't uncover some useful trends as the season progresses.

To this point, sharp action has gone 10-11 against the spread in college movements and 10-6 ATS in the NFL movements. That's 20-17 ATS (54.1 percent) overall. Here are some of the most noticeable and significant early steam movements in both the college and pro football opening lines:


Southern Mississippi at Boise State (7:45 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 27)

Open: Boise State -7.5.
Current: Boise State -10.0.

Southern Miss will dive into the blue, hitting the carpet to take on the Broncos on Thursday night's primetime matchup. Both of these schools have been off since Sept. 15, but neither was overly impressive in their last game. Boise State has won 13 straight nonconference home games but with only 11 starters back from last year this isn't the same caliber Broncos team that we've seen over the past few years.

Memphis at Arkansas State (7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 27)
Open: Pick.
Current: Arkansas State -4.0.

This is one of the most significant steam moves of the week and I think that most of it has to do with the blood-letting that Memphis underwent last weekend at Central Florida. Arkansas State converted a Hail Mary at the buzzer to pull a stunning upset last year, but the Tigers had won 10 straight in this series prior to that. Memphis is a putrid 13-26 in its last 39 road games and Arkansas State is 19-8 in its last 27 road games.

UNLV at Nevada (4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 29)
Open: Nevada -6.0.
Current: Nevada -3.5.

The Battle of the Freemont Cannon is going down and it looks like the Vegas boys could be ready to spring an upset. Maybe. Nevada is 12-6 in this series over the past 18 years and has won the past two games by a combined 52-17 score. The Wolfpack are 3-1 ATS at home against the Rebels recently and Nevada is coming off a bye week.

Louisville at North Carolina State (3:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 29)
Open: Louisville -11.0.
Current: Louisville -8.5.

After a colossal upset at the hands of Syracuse, my beloved alma mater, the Cardinals are now road favorites over a pathetic Wolfpack squad. This one could break either way: the Big East absolutely dominates the ACC and you have to think pride will kick in for the Cards after two straight heartbreakers. However, since 1997 teams are 2-15 ATS after losing a game outright as a favorite of 20.0 or more points. See: Michigan vs. Oregon this year.

Clemson at Georgia Tech (3:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 29)
Open: Georgia Tech -1.0.
Current: Clemson -3.0.

This was the most noteworthy movement of the week. I know Tech has fallen since it's huge opening win over Notre Dame (which has clearly lost some of its luster). But I don't know if they should be home dogs to the Tigers and their shaky quarterback. Then again, Clemson is 4-0 ATS in its last four trips to Atlanta and James Davis and C.J. Spiller - the pair that combined for 332 rush yards in last year's 31-7 blowout - are still in uniform.

Indiana at Iowa (Noon p.m., Saturday, Sept. 29)
Open: Iowa -15.5.
Current: Iowa -12.0.

It's Homecoming for the Hawkeyes, but since this isn't high school that doesn't really mean anything. Instead, we're catching Iowa in a Letdown-Look Ahead spot here. The Hawks are coming off a tough loss at Wisconsin and they have a big game at Penn State next weekend. Iowa doesn't exactly have an offense that could be called "explosive" or even "competent" so it could be tough to cover a two-TD spread.

Temple at Army (Noon, Saturday, Sept. 29)
Open: Army -8.5.
Current: Army -6.0

The Army is clearly capable of dominating Third World countries, but they're football team is not as good at taking care of business on the home field. The Black Knights are 3-23 at home against Division I-A opponents. But now the good news: Temple has dropped 24 straight road contests. We clearly have the proverbial moveable object against the stoppable force. No wonder the sharps are taking the points.

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Re: College Football News and Notes Week 5

Games to Watch -- Week 5

Week 5

Friday - West Virginia at South Florida (ESPN, 8:00 p.m. EDT)

All eyes will turn to Tampa, Florida on Friday as South Florida (3-0 SU, 2-0 ATS) hopes to shock West Virginia (4-0 SU, 3-0 ATS) in a huge Big East battle. Last year, South Florida stunned then No. 7 West Virginia 24-19 as a 21-point road underdog, spoiling the Mountaineers' chances to earn a BCS bowl berth. The Bulls are allowing 79 yards per game on the ground, while the Mountaineers are ranked second nationally in rushing yards (357 YPG). WVU's dynamic duo of Pat White and Steve Slaton was held to 60 yards on the ground in last year's setback. The Mountaineers and Bulls have both been golden for gamblers, going a combined 5-0 versus the number this year. WVU has posted a 2-0 mark on the road this year, while USF is 2-0 at Raymond James Stadium. In 2005, WVU ripped USF on the road by a score of 28-13

Saturday - Michigan State at Wisconsin (CBS, 3:30 p.m. EDT)

Wisconsin (4-0 SU, 1-2 ATS) hosts Michigan State (4-0 SU, 2-2 ATS) on Saturday in a battle of unbeaten clubs at Camp Randall. The Spartans appear to be gaining confidence after rolling Notre Dame 31-14 in South Bend last Saturday, while Wisconsin struggled in its 17-13 home victory against Iowa. The Badgers' success comes down to quarterback Tyler Donovan, who completed over 65 percent in easy victories, but less than 54 percent in the two single-digit wins.The home team has won the previous two meetings in this series and in double-digit fashion too. Michigan State won 49-14 in 2004, while Wisconsin captured a 56-21 victory in 2003. The 'over' has cashed in the last four battles in this Big Ten matchup.

Saturday - California at Oregon (ABC, 3:30 p.m. EDT)

The Pac 10 is catching a lot of hype late, largely in part to top-ranked Southern California but also due to quality schools in No. 6 Cal (4-0 SU, 2-2 ATS) and No. 11 Oregon (4-0 SU, 4-0 ATS). The pair of teams square off in Eugene on Saturday and whoever has the ball last in this game, could be the winner. The Ducks (48.5) and Golden Bears (41.5) are both averaging 40-plus points per game. Forcing and not committing turnovers is going to be key in this matchup, with Oregon and Cal both ranked sixth nationally with a plus-7 turnover margin.Cal has won two of the past three meetings, including a 45-24 victory last year as a 5 ½-point favorite at Berkley. Prior to this run, the Ducks have won five in a row against the Bears and seven straight at Autzen Stadium. Oregon has won and covered all four games by double-digits this season. Cal won its road game against Colorado State 34-28, but failed to cover as 14-point favorite.

Saturday - Clemson at Georgia Tech (3:30 p.m. EDT)

Head coach Tommy Bowden and No. 13 Clemson (4-0 SU, 2-1 ATS) are quietly making a move and this week's matchup in Atlanta against Georgia Tech (2-2 SU, 1-2 ATS) should be a slugfest. The Tigers' offense (447 YPG, 38.2 PPG) is clicking on all gears right now, but face a Yellow Jackets defense that is ranked 21st nationally with 17.3 PPG allowed and 11th in rushing yards allowed (72.3). Last year, the Tigers' running game ripped G-Tech for 321 yards on the ground, as the two-headed monster of James Davis (216 yards, 2 TDs) and C.J. Spiller (116 yards, 1 TD) ran wild.Even though Clemson dominated G-Tech 31-7 last year as a seven-point home favorite in a primetime affair, the recent meetings have been closer. Eight of the previous 10 matchups were decided by five points or less, including a10-9 Yellow Jackets' win in the last contest played at Atlanta.

Saturday - Alabama at Florida State (CBS, 5:00 p.m. EDT)

The SEC meets the ACC in Jacksonville on Saturday evening, when No. 21 Alabama (3-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) faces Florida State (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) in a solid non-conference battle. Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide are off a tough 26-23 overtime loss to Georgia last Saturday, while FSU hasn't played in two weeks after beating Colorado 16-6. The Seminoles' offense (332 YPG) continues to struggle, yet the defense (305 YPG) has remained stout. FSU's Bobby Bowden has never faced Alabama in his career, but Alabama owns a slight 2-1 edge in the only three meetings. Unranked favorites have gone 2-1 SU, but 1-2 ATS this year. Florida State has seen the 'under' go 6-1 in its last seven meetings against SEC schools.

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Re: College Football News and Notes Week 5

Outside the Top 25: NCAA Week 5 betting previews

So I guess we should all welcome the Louisville Cardinals to the suburbia of college football. Last week, I included Louisville in this column out of protest because, even though they were ranked 18th in the country, they had no business being in the Top 25. Then they went out and proved me correct by losing straight-up to the Syracuse Orange who was on the receiving end of a 37-point spread.

Now the Cardinals are officially on the outside looking in after receiving zero votes in the AP poll.

Thank the good Lord for that.

This week, we’ll stick to matchups with teams officially out of the polls, but don’t be surprised if you see a couple of these teams in the rankings next week (see Miami, Michigan).

Buffalo at Ball State (-15 ½)

I don’t want to be one of those I-told-you-so types, but before the season started I was trying to tell you guys that Ball State would be a great play this year. And what do they do? They go out and trade punches with Nebraska, finishing two points shy of a straight-up win against the defending Big 12 North champions even though oddsmakers had them at +25. That makes them 3-1 ATS at this point – excuse me while I pat myself on the back.

Buffalo is receiving big points here – and this is a team that has done well as the big dog – but Nate Davis is playing like an NFL-quality quarterback. In spite the shortcomings of the Ball State defense, the Cardinals will run up the score on a Bulls team that doesn’t have nearly enough firepower to keep up.

Duke at Miami (-24)

This is probably the last time you’re going to see Miami on this list. The Hurricanes’ victory over Texas A&M wasn’t just a notch in the win column; it was a volley across the bow of every team in the Top 25, a shot announcing the return of “The U.”

Say what you will about Kyle Wright and his unstable pocket presence, but he’s surrounded by enough old-school vintage Miami butt-whoopers that he doesn’t have to win games on his own. Take away a beating at the hands of Oklahoma (possibly the best team in the country) and this defense is among the country’s most fearsome units. If Jorvorskie Lane and Mike Goodson couldn’t get anywhere against the Hurricanes defensive front, the Duke Blue Devils haven’t got a prayer.

Michigan at Northwestern (+16 ½)

I’d really like to say Northwestern has a chance to make use of this big pointspread, but in reality, this is going to be another ugly year for the Wildcats and Michigan is the wrong team for them to face at this point. After the infamously horrible start to the season, the Wolverines are still on a mission to prove themselves, so expect them to get caught looking past Northwestern like they did last year.

After watching Ohio State run all over the Northwestern defense, Mike Hart is probably looking for a 200-yard game and now that Big Blue finally has its defense sorted out, this pointspread isn’t out of the question in the Wolverines’ first road trip.

Indiana at Iowa (-11)

Two losses on the road by a combined six points will make a football team feel like a bunch of caged dogs. The Iowa Hawkeyes are hungry, angry and finally back on their own turf. On top of that, this is a revenge spot for the Hawkeyes. Last year, the Hoosiers upset Iowa and sent their season into a tailspin in which they lost five of their last six games. The Iowa offense has been backfiring up to this point, but unlike Indiana, they’ve faced nothing but quality opponents. Take the Hawkeyes defense over the Hoosiers offense, by a landslide.

Syracuse at Miami-Ohio (+1)

Finally, a pointspread that isn’t as wide as the Ohio River. If you went by the results of only last week, you’d probably see a spread more in line with the other games on this list, but oddsmakers can’t afford to be shortsighted. Syracuse knocked off Louisville, but if you saw that one coming after the way they started the season, we have job for you at Covers Experts. However, as a bettor, you have to like what that win can do for a team’s confidence. The Orange found their strengths last week – namely, Taj Smith’s big-play ability and Max Suter as a burner on special teams – and they’ll be looking to exploit a Miami-Ohio defense that seems to be challenging Temple for the title of most inept squad in the Mid-American Conference.

BYU at New Mexico (+6)

The Cougars were supposed to have one of the best defenses in the Mountain West again this year, but when Tulsa showed up and aired it out for 490 passing yards a couple of weeks ago, everybody suddenly had their doubts. The BYU coaching staff insists it was an anomaly, but if the Cougars defense has a weakness against the pass, New Mexico is just the team to crack that chink in the armor wide open.

Sophomore quarterback Donovan Porterie has already thrown for over 1,000 yards on only 130 attempts. His accuracy is outstanding and after hanging 58 points on Sacramento State last week, it’s safe to assume the offense is all on the same page. The New Mexico defense is as good as everyone expected, but Porterie has made the offense much more dangerous than anyone thought, as BYU is about to find out.

Washington State at Arizona (-2 ½)

These two teams are almost identical when you look at the stats. Arizona is a middle-of-the-pack defensive team while Wazzu is at the bottom of the conference. On offense, Washington State is slightly better than average and Arizona is worst in the Pac-10. Hence, the even-steven pointspread.

Since neither teams has shown the ability to stop anything on defense, you can expect this game to turn into a shootout. Wazzu’s Alex Brink and Arizona’s Willie Tuitama are both among the best quarterbacks in the country and the receivers are solid on both sides. This game is going to light up the scoreboard, but Arizona should end up with more points at the end because from what the inexperienced Cougars defenders have shown thus far, they won’t be able to deal with the multi-spread offense of Arizona. Last week, Tuitama threw the ball 61 times and he’ll probably do it again this week, with much more success at the Wazzu defenders clamor to keep up.

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Re: College Football News and Notes Week 5

by Gary Olshan

Southern Miss at BOISE STATE (Thursday)...BSU is time-tested 32-12 as “blue carpet” chalk since ‘97 (0-1 TY), while USM is 0-5 as road dog last 1+Ys (0-1 TY), but 5-7 L3Ys.

West Virginia at SOUTH FLORIDA (Friday)...Major revenge game for WV following stinging 24-19 upset loss vs. USF in Morgantown LY. Remember, Mounties Heisman hopeful RB Slaton (season-low 43 YR) was subpar due to wrist injury, and USF scored early momentum-shifting TD on 7-yd. fumble return. Mountie QB White called his performance his worst of ‘06, as he tossed 2 ints. & rushed for season-low 17 yds. in 15 tries. WV is 14-3 as away chalk since ‘02 (2-0 TY).

Penn State at ILLINOIS...Visitor has covered 4 straight in series (DNP in ‘03, ‘04). Penn State claimed it was physically/emotionally spent prior to LY’s 26-12 win, coming off heels of draining 17-10 home loss vs. Michigan the previous week. Nittany Lion QB Morelli, who missed most of practice during week due to concussion suffered vs. Wolverines, threw for just only 144 yards. Penn State scored TDs on fumble & KO returns.

Duke at MIAMI-FLORIDA...Duke hung tough in 20-15 home loss vs. Miami LY. But Hurricanes were missing 12 starters, who were suspended for participation in brawl vs. Florida International the previous week. Blue Devils 6-2 as DD road dog last 1+Ys. (2-0 TY) . Homecoming for Duke QB T. Lewis (284 YP with 4 ints. LY), who hails form nearby Opa-Locka (only 10 miles from Miami). Miami just 7-14 as chalk since ‘05.

Iowa State at NEBRASKA
...Nebraska has won & covered 8 of past 10 vs. ISU. New Cyclone HC Chizik familiar with Husker personnel after facing them LY when he was co-d.c. at Texas. Nebraska led 28-7 in ‘06 before ISU scored “garbage” TD with just :06 left. Husker HC Callahan eschewed the pass for more “smashmouth” tactics, amassing 251 yds. in 45 totes.

Kent State at OHIO...Kent State in retalitory mood recalling LY’s 17-7 home loss to Ohio, ending Golden Flashes rare 5-game win streak. Kent’s gutsy QB Edelman (season-worst 7 of 20 for 79 yds.) eager for another crack at Bobcats after performing with torn labrum in his throwing shoulder in ‘06. Flashes have covered 3 straight in Athens, including 2 upsets.

Cal at OREGON...U of O sky high for this Pac-10 tilt following disheartening 45-24 loss in Berkeley LY (Ducks worst defensive showing of year), which snapped their 4-game spread streak in series. Oregon’s star RB Stewart revved-up after season-low 25 YR (in 18 carries). Bellotti’s bunch is 12-5 as chalk in Autzen Stadium since ‘03 (2-0 TY).

Western Michigan at TOLEDO...Payback time for struggling Toledo, which had 5-game series win streak (4 straight covers, avg. win by 24 pts.) snapped in 31-10 defeat at Kalamazoo LY. UT actually outgained Broncos 306-261, but 4 costly TOs (none for WMU), including momentum-killing 92-yd. int. return for a Bronco TD, proved to be difference.

Pitt at VIRGINIA...Virginia was victimized by essentially 4 huge plays in 38-13 loss at Pitt LY. Panthers now-departed QB Palko (drafted by New Orleans) tossed two TD passes covering 78 & 72 yds., and Pitt scored TDs on int. returns covering 19 & 78 yds.

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Re: College Football News and Notes Week 5

by Bruce Marshall

ACC: Wake Forest’s surprise conference title last season was a nice surprise, and a great story for the long-suffering Demon Deacon fans. Unfortunately, it might have been an indicator that the conference was hitting a bit of a lull. Already, most of the expected contenders have tasted bitter defeat this season, with losses by Virginia Tech (48-7 at LSU) and Miami-Florida (51-13 at Oklahoma) underlining the wide gap between the supposed ACC elite and the top-flight teams in the country. Don’t expect any BCS at-large berths to come from the ACC, although Boston College and Clemson have both impressed early. And don’t look now, but Al Groh’s Virginia is already 3-0 and leading the Atlantic Division. Potential go-withs? If Clemson gets past Virginia Tech at Death Valley October 6, the Tigers should have a clear shot at a 10-0 start before late November showdowns with BC and South Carolina. Let’s also mention Duke, which recently broke its 22-game losing streak and owns 3 straight covers for beleaguered HC Ted Roof. Potential go-against sides? Tom O’Brien is apparently facing a bigger rebuilding job than we imagined at NC State, which has yet to cover in three tries vs. the line. Although watch out for progress from O’Brien and Butch Davis at North Carolina later in the fall.

BIG EAST: The most-pleasant conference surprise in the country has been the emergence of the Big East, which ironically appears considerably stronger than the ACC, which poached three of the Big East’s prized members (VT, BC, and Miami) within the past few years. Last year’s 5-0 straight-up mark in bowl games was an indicator the league had elevated itself, and early non-conference performances have mostly continued the momentum. Potential go-withs? They’re everywhere, including unbeaten West Virginia, Rutgers, and South Florida. But a special commendation to the Cincinnati Bearcats and HC Brian Kelly, whose teams at CMU and Cincy now stand 20-5-3 vs. the pointspread since 2005. UConn is also showing signs of re-emerging after its 4-0 start. Potential go-against sides? Louisville has been terribly overvalued thanks to its suspect defense, and we wonder how Pitt is going to fare against solid competition with its offense struggling.

BIG TEN: Penn State was looming as an unlikely (and probably undeserving) BCS title game hopeful with a schedule that seemed to be breaking incredible well for Joe Paterno. But the suspect Nittany Lion offense (and QB Anthony Morelli in particular) took care of those concerns with its limp showing at Ann Arbor. We are similarly unimpressed with Wisconsin despite its 4-0 start. Recent developments of note, however, are Michigan’s recent rally after an 0-2 start, Ohio State getting the feel of things with new QB Todd Boeckman at the controls, and potent Purdue, scoring nearly 50 ppg behind its hot QB, Curtis Painter. Potential go-withs? Keep an eye on Illinois, with soph QB Juice Williams (right) maturing into an exciting leader, and Ron Zook assembling some impressive talent in Champaign-Urbana. Potential go-againsts? Northwestern, perhaps back to its old whipping-post status, and maybe Indiana, whose early successes vs. weak non-league opposition might have inadvertently raised hopes.

BIG XII: Oklahoma and the rest? Well, unless Mack Brown can get Texas in gear, we don’t see anyone slowing down the Sooners, who might be the best bet of any team to reach the BCS title game. There’s more competition in the improved North, where Missouri might be the team to beat. Potential go-withs? Kansas has been mowing down every foes in its path, but things are going to get a lot tougher for the Jayhawks in Big XII play. Colorado and Baylor also each appear improved. Potential go-againsts? Aforementioned Nebraska appears overvalued, Iowa State has perhaps regressed under new HC Gene Chizik, and we’re still not sure about Texas A&M.

CUSA: The league appears a little more lively than a year ago, even though the most-impressive non-conference performance qs a loss (UCF losing by only 35-32 at home vs. Texas). Potential go-withs? George O’Leary’s aforementioned Golden Knights might be the class of the league. And Tulsa should fare well now that it doesn’t have to worry about facing Oklahoma. Keep an eye on Houston as well. Potential go-againsts? Memphis appears a troubled team (HC Tommy West on the hot seat?), Rice has tailed noticeably for new HC David Bailiff, and new HC Bob Toledo has little to work with at Tulane besides chop-busting RB Matt Forte.

MAC: The league appears more mediocre overall than a year ago, and once again there appears to be no true marquee team. Lots of embarrassments in non-conference play, sav for a couple of efforts by Ball State (an exciting OT win at Navy, a a near-upset at Nebraska). Potential go-with sides? With QB Nate Davis perhaps the league’s top threat, Ball State looks like a side to watch. Potential go-against? Central Michigan, though 1-0 in the West, appears to have dropped off alarmingly under new HC Butch Jones.

MWC: Wide, wide open, although Air Force’s early bid to catch the league napping once more was foiled last week by BYU. The expected contenders (TCU, Utah, & the Cougs) have all looked more vulnerable than expected, while the likes of New Mexico, Wyoming, UNLV, and the aforementioned Falcons have been pleasant surprises. Potential go-withs? We wouldn’t jump off Air Force yet just because of its loss at BYU, and UNLV has offered good value. As always, watch New Mexico as an underdog. Potential go-againsts? Be careful with Utah and its recent bipolar performance pattern. TCU could be overvalued. And with each mounting loss (now 10 in a row), it appears this will be Sonny Lubick’s swansong at CSU.

A legitimate candidate for best league in the nation, but with the only truly premiere defense in the league, USC remains the team to beat. Keep in mind, however, that the Trojans must still make road trips to treacherous Oregon, Cal, and Arizona State venues. Stanford’s apparent improvement under Jim Harbaugh indicates there will be no “soft touches” in the loop this fall. Potential go-withs? SC looks more potent than last year thanks to a more-dangerous group of Rbs, and the Trojans have covered two numbers in a row. Stanford should also provide value. Potential go-againsts? Watch out for situations at Arizona and Washington State, both with coaches (Mike Stoops and Bill Doba) on the hot seat. Oregon State could also labor if its QB problems persist.

SEC: We’ll stick with the SEC as the nation’s toughest loop, at least for now. The fact powerful Florida and LSU had fights vs. league underdogs last weekend confirms as much. As always, however, teams could beat each other up in conference play, which makes it more difficult for any SEC member to make the BCS title game. The East, in particular, is absolutely loaded, and we would keep an eye on hot Kentucky, winning games, covering pointspreads, and with an emerging Heisman candidate in QB Andre’ Woodson. Potential go-withs? Sly Croom’s (left) Mississippi State has rebounded well from its opening loss vs. LSU, and we would keep an eye on Vandy, good enough to land inside some bigger pointspreads. Potential go-against? Arkansas is finding ways to lose, putting HC Houston Nutt’s job in jeopardy, and the war drums are also beating for Phil Fulmer at Tennessee.

WAC: Unless Hawaii runs the table (which is possible), it’s doubtful we’ll have a Boise State-like BCS contender from the WAC (the Warriors pair of games vs. lower-division foes won’t help). Overall, a more competitive loop in ‘07, with bottom feeders La Tech, Idaho, & Utah State not quite as bad as ‘06, and Boise certainly not unbeatable this fall, and last year’s bowl rep San Jose State down a few notches. Potential go-withs? La Tech, which played Hawaii to the hilt in Ruston and has usually had a nice home-field edge at Joe Aillet Stadium, could be a pointspread surprise. Potential go-against? Fresno State could continue to be overvalued, and we’ll see if Boise (already 0-2 vs. the line) can carry those heavy numbers again this fall.

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Re: College Football News and Notes Week 5

Inside the Boxscores - Week 4, Part 2
By Matt Fargo

Inside the Boxscores is a weekly feature from Matt Fargo that has been widely recognized as one of the best summations in college football. He takes an in-depth look at each game and pulls out the most pertinent information that will help you handicap games in the future. College football is filled with quirky plays, misleading scores and surprise endings. Fargo takes you inside the action.
HOUSTON 38 Colorado State 27

The Cougars battled back from a deficit the entire game as they didn’t take their first lead until late in the 4th quarter. Colorado St. turned in over on downs at the Houston 46-yard line and the Cougars tacked on a final touchdown enabling the frontdoor cover. Houston was limited to just three points and 132 total yards in the 1st half but scored four touchdowns in the 2nd half along with the defense returning a fumble for a score.

Northern Ill 42 IDAHO 35

Northern Illinois picked up its first win of the season but after jumping out to a 35-7 lead, the Huskies needed to hold off a ferocious Idaho rally. The Vandals scored twice in the 4th quarter to pull to within seven points and recovered the onsides kick but were stopped on 4th down at the Huskies 22-yard line. Idaho outgained Northern Illinois 586-356 but the Huskies scored on an interception return, a fumble return and a blocked punt return.

Baylor 34 BUFFALO 21

Baylor won rather easily despite outgaining the Bulls by just 38 total yards. Buffalo turned the ball over five times which led to 13 Bears points and three of Baylor’s scoring drives were 24 yards or fewer. The Bulls finished with only 87 yards rushing on 27 carries (3.2 ypc) and didn’t help matters by committing 10 penalties for 81 yards. Baylor easily covered the short two-point price.

(6) CALIFORNIA 45 Arizona 27

California put up four touchdowns in the first quarter and coasted to an easy victory although a final touchdown was needed with 8:53 remaining to secure the frontdoor cover. The Bears only won the yardage battle 421-330 but was the beneficiary of four Wildcats turnovers that led to 14 points. Arizona had plenty of chances as five possessions that went inside the Bears 30-yard line resulted in only six points.

(14) Kentucky 42 ARKANSAS 29

Arkansas outgained the Wildcats 495-435 but it could not hold off two Kentucky rallies. The Wildcats were down 20-7 but scored the next two touchdowns to take the lead. The Razorbacks then scored on a safely and returned the ensuing kick for a touchdown to take an eight-point lead but Kentucky scored on its final three possessions to grab the easy win and cover. Arkansas finished with 338 yards rushing on 51 carries (6.6 ypc).

TOLEDO 36 Iowa State 35

A back and forth game saw the Rockets win in improbable fashion. Toledo was down by 11 points after an Iowa St. touchdown with 5:25 remaining but the Rockets returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown. The Cyclones then fumbled four plays later which Toledo returned for a touchdown to take the lead. Iowa St. then drove to the 21-yard line but a last second field goal was blocked. Iowa St. won the yardage battle 397-297.

KANSAS 55 Florida Intl 3

Kansas won its fourth straight blowout to start the season as it outgained Florida International 615-255 while the defense and special teams also scored touchdowns. The Jayhawks led by 38 points in the fourth quarter but the Golden Panthers were down to the five-yard line and looking for the backdoor cover but Kansas picked off a pass and returned it 100 yards for a score.

(7) TEXAS 58 Rice 14

Texas scored the first 41 points of the first half as it racked up 365 yards in the first two quarters. The game started out in the Owls favor as they forced a fumble on the second play of the game at the Texas 19-yard line but missed a field goal after going backwards for 14 yards. Rice scored with 6:56 remaining to pull within six-points of the spread and got the ball back one final time at the Texas 44-yard line but was forced to punt.

AUBURN 55 New Mexico St 20

New Mexico St. jumped out to a 20-14 lead early in the second quarter but the Tigers scored the final 41 points of the game to pull out the easy win and cover. Auburn outgained the Aggies by only 43 total yards but the defense forced six turnovers that led to 35 points. Four of the Aggies turnovers occurred inside their own 27-yard line. New Mexico St. had only 127 total yards in the second half.

Connecticut 34 PITTSBURGH 14

Connecticut was outgained 349-289 but it forced six turnovers that led to 17 points including one direct touchdown on an interception return. The Panthers had five possessions in the fourth quarter and four of those resulted in turnovers although the game was well decided by that point. The Huskies built an early lead and punted on all six of its offensive possessions of the second half.

TENNESSEE 48 Arkansas State 27

Tennessee put up 523 yards of offense but the cover was very much in jeopardy. The Volunteers scored on two consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter to cover the 19-point line but the Indians had one last chance for a backdoor cover however they fumbled at the Tennessee 31-yard line. Arkansas St. returned an interception for a touchdown in the 2nd quarter to pull within three but Tennessee pulled away after that.

Fla Atlantic 30 NORTH TEXAS 20

North Texas was in good position to win its first game of the season but after kicking a field goal midway through the third quarter to take a 10-point lead, the Owls ran off the final 20 points of the game. The Mean Green actually outgained Florida Atlantic 466-406 but three interceptions killed two long drives while the Owls also blocked two punts that led to two short touchdown drives.


Troy outgained the Cajuns 568-504 but it was turnovers that made the ultimate difference. La-Lafayette scored touchdowns from both of the Trojans turnovers while Troy returned an interception 39 yards for a touchdown that iced the game late in the fourth quarter. Troy remains vulnerable against the run as it allowed 345 yards on 46 carries (7.5 ypc).

(24) CINCINNATI 40 Marshall 14

Cincinnati recorded its fourth straight victory as it jumped out to a 26-2 lead and held off a late Thundering Herd rally. Marshall scored the final touchdown of the first half and after a scoreless third quarter, it scored to cut the Bearcats lead to 12 points. Cincinnati took the kickoff and drove 72 yards then forced a punt and drove another 67 yards for the final score and the frontdoor cover by two points.

(15) Georgia 26 (22) ALABAMA 23

Alabama was involved in its 2nd straight game that came down to the final seconds but fell short in this one. Georgia went ahead by 10 points in the fourth quarter but the Tide kicked a field goal and then drove 88 yards and scored the tying touchdown with 1:09 remaining. The Bulldogs missed a field goal in regulation as time expired. After a Tide field goal in overtime, Georgia threw a touchdown on its first play of the extra session.

(1) U-S-C 47 Washington St 14

USC outgained the Cougars 509-247 and it broke open a close game early by scoring 27 unanswered points. Washington St. drove 84 yards on its opening possession for a score but the next six possessions resulted in minus one net yards. The Trojans scored on eight of its first nine possessions and did not punt the ball once in the entire game. Washington St. ended the game at the USC nine-yard line killing a chance for the possible push.

(9) WISCONSIN 17 Iowa 13

It took over a quarter to get the offenses moving as Iowa punted on its first eight possessions while Wisconsin punted on six of its first seven possessions with an interception being the exception. The Hawkeyes jumped ahead at the half but the Badgers scored the first touchdown in the 4th quarter and didn’t give the lead back although it didn’t cover. Iowa finished with 59 yards rushing on 26 carries (2.3 ypc).

San Jose St 23 UTAH STATE 20

San Jose St. picked up its first victory of the season thanks to a late rally as it scored a touchdown with 53 seconds remaining for the win and cover. The Spartans did have a nine-point cushion but Utah St. ran off 13 straight points to take its first lead of the game. The Aggies scored its first touchdown on a kickoff return as they were outgained 524-253 but still were in the game throughout.

T-C-U 21 S-M-U 7

SMU jumped ahead 7-0 but the Horned Frogs scored the next two touchdowns on a blocked punt return and an interception return. TCU was outgained 352-250 and besides the interception, the defense was the difference as it stopped the Mustangs on fourth down three times inside the 24-yard line including twice in the redzone on SMU’s final two possessions. The Mustangs easily covered the 24-point spread.

Purdue 45 MINNESOTA 31

Purdue had four different leads of 21 points but each time, Minnesota responded with a touchdown and was able to cover the 14.5-point spread. The Gophers were outgained by only 35 total yards but they committed four turnovers which led to 10 Boilermakers points. Minnesota also turned it over on downs on its final two possessions. Both teams were a perfect 5-5 inside the redzone.

(23) ARIZONA STATE 44 Oregon State 32

Oregon St. jumped out to a 19-0 lead after the first quarter and Beavers backers were looking good until the Sun Devils ran off 44 of the next 51 points. Oregon St. scored its final touchdown with 53 seconds remaining and the extra point would have resulted in a push but the Beavers went for two and failed. The Beavers outgained Arizona St. 514-396 but six turnovers led to 20 points.

(11) Oregon 55 STANFORD 31

Stanford hung around for a half and actually took a seven-point lead into halftime. However, the Ducks responded with the only 31 points in the second half to record the easy win and cover. Oregon outgained the Cardinal 589-402 but it was three fumbles in the second quarter that led to touchdowns for Stanford and the early deficit. Stanford crossed midfield only twice in the second half.

U-N-L-V 27 Utah 0

After an upset of UCLA last week, the Utes did everything wrong and were shutout for the first time since 1993. Utah was outgained by only 40 total yards but it had four turnovers and went only one for five on fourth down, getting stopped in UNLV territory in three of those. Three of the five Rebels scoring drives were 36 yards or fewer and they ended up with the wire-to-wire underdog cover.

U-C-L-A 44 Washington 31

UCLA outgained the Huskies 537-340 but a touchdown by Washington with 9:44 remaining in the fourth quarter cut the lead back to seven points. The Bruins responded by returning the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown to pull away and grab the eventual cover. UCLA had only two turnovers but they led to 14 points which kept the game closer than it should have been.

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Re: College Football News and Notes Week 5

Idaho's Deonte Jackson may miss Hawaii game
September 26, 2007

MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) -Idaho may be without star running back Deonte Jackson when it hosts No. 19 Hawaii on Saturday.

Jackson, a freshman who leads the Western Athletic Conference in rushing, suffered a high ankle sprain against Northern Illinois last weekend.

Jackson has gained 537 yards on 100 carries for the Vandals (1-3). If he is out, senior Jayson Bird will get more carries.

Bird had just 10 carries in Idaho's first three games, but got more action last Saturday when Jackson was hurt in the third quarter. Bird ran eight times for 52 yards and caught five passes for 72 yards.

Bird, who led Idaho in rushing as a freshman in 2004, has 1,536 career yards.

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Re: College Football News and Notes Week 5

College Football Power Rankings: The Ferringo 15
by Robert Ferringo

Polls and rankings can be a gambler's best friend when it comes to wagering on large groups of vicious and volatile college students, the type that paint their faces, don high density polyurethane shells, and assemble each week to thrash each other on the gridiron. Polls and rankings set the general consensus on how strong a certain team is, regardless of Truth, and that makes them a tool for exploiting a misinformed betting public.

But this ranking system is going to work a little differently. We have enough rampant conjecture across the nation in regards to college football so I have set out to provide my faithful readers with some info that should enrich their gambling lives. The result: the Ferringo 15.

The Ferringo 15 is my Profit-Power Rankings, a ladder or hierarchy based on which teams are the most profitable on the field. I'm not trying to give you some other convoluted, random, speculative power rankings based on my own biases. So instead of Ohio State moving up or down the polls on the basis of how badly they blew out Northwestern the previous Saturday I'm going to rank each team based on past, present, and projected future achievement against the spread.

Below I've listed teams that have been and hopefully will continue to be the most profitable teams for bettors this season. It's still early in the season so there will likely be a lot of fluctuation from week to week. But after we've had some time to get the lay of the land these rankings will be buttressed by solid, visceral performance.

Last week was a banner week for the Ferringo 15, as our top teams went a sensational 10-4 ATS. That also runs their mark to a combined 23-11 ATS on the season. However, word is getting out on our undervalued gems and I think they may struggle over the next few weeks as the books start to overcompensate. Without further ado, here is our Week 5 version of the Ferringo 15:

1) South Florida (2-0 Against the Spread) - This week's game against West Virginia is going to say a lot about the Bulls' long-term earning potential. But either way I think it's all about degrees of positive with this team. If they lose as a seven-point home dog I think we can expect a little hangover game next week, but then they'll have exceptional value during the rest of what is a very favorable Big East schedule. If they win, then this is one of the 15 best teams in the country and we'll have confidence that they can cover most numbers.

2) Purdue (3-0 ATS) - Any team that can put up the type of offensive numbers as the Boilermakers is going to be a solid earner all season long. With home games against Notre Dame and Ohio State in the next two weeks it's going to be tough to determine whether to keep buying this stock or to get ready to sell high.

4) Anyone Playing Notre Dame (4-0 ATS) - This one is self-explanatory. They're getting manhandled at the point of attack. It's going to be kind of funny when they're instilled as 45-point underdogs against USC. And even funnier when I lay the points.

5) Oklahoma (4-0 ATS) - Laying three touchdowns on the road in a conference game is a dicey situation (see: Florida at Ole Miss). But I'm at the point where I don't think for one second that they couldn't handle it this weekend against Colorado. The Sooners are averaging 61.5 points per game. Wow.

6) Cincinnati (3-0 ATS) - I absolutely love the Bearcats and this is a sleeper Big East contender. I do think they'll come up just short of winning a conference title, but they will most definitely have a say in a who does. Weird game this weekend at San Diego State.

10) Central Florida (3-0 ATS) - Yup, they're legit. George O'Leary has the top squad in Conference USA and I'm already penciling in a bowl win. But the trouble is that they have four CUSA road games, as well as a rivalry game with South Florida in two weeks. It's going to be tough for them to make it out of October unblemished, but after covering against three quality teams I think the sky is the limit for this team.

7) Kentucky (3-1 ATS) - These guys may have peaked, and that's why they are kind of in the middle of this list. The word is out on the 1-2-3 offensive attack, and with four of their next five games at home they could be laying too many points. But the edge that UK has is that they are such a historic SEC dog that when people see the names "LSU", "Florida" or "Georgia" stacked up against them bettors will always side with the traditional powers.

8) Boston College (3-1 ATS) - With layup games coming up against UMass, Bowling Green and Notre Dame, followed by a bye week, the Eagles should be an over-inflated balloon when they get into serious ACC play. They have to play at VT, at Maryland, and at Clemson, and have home games against FSU and Miami. That's brutal.

9) Oregon (4-0 ATS) - Huge game with Cal this weekend could determine who is the No. 1 threat to USC for the Pac-10 title. These games at Autzen Stadium have traditionally been closely contested, with the average difference at just 6.3 points over the last three meetings there. Oregon is 4-1 ATS in the last five games overall against Cal and 6-1 ATS playing them at home.

11) Iowa (3-1 ATS) - With that devastating front four, the Hawkeyes are pretty much an automatic play as an underdog. The problem is going to be whether or not they can score enough to make them a viable favorite play. A perfect example is this weekend's game against Indiana. Iowa is a 12-point chalk, but they have yet to prove they can handle a double-digit line in a conference game against a semi-competent team.

12) UCLA (3-1 ATS) - Their shaky rotating quarterback system is actually helping keep the value high on the Bruins. Pat Cowan is the steadier hand, but Ben Olsen has a ton of upside so they're set either way. Regardless, the true value in this team is its veteran defense. But as we saw in their Red Flag Game against Utah, this team will break your heart once or twice a year.

13) Kansas (3-0 ATS) - Wow. Where'd you come from? I actually should have seen this coming. Five of their six losses last year were by an average of 5.4 points, and with a veteran quarterback and defense they were primed for a bounce-back season. However, four of their next six conference games are on the road and I don't see them winning more than two of those contests. But can they cover? I'm not putting it past the Jayhawks.

14) Missouri (3-0 ATS) - Pray - PRAY that Missouri can win at home against Nebraska next weekend. If we can get that, and somehow get an Oklahoma loss to either Colorado or Texas, we could be set with about a 13-point line when the Tigers head to OU. Mizzou will lose that game by 40. In the meantime, we're rooting for a big Huskers win over Iowa State this weekend to keep that Mizzou-Nebraska line around four or six.

15) Arizona State (3-1 ATS) - After three easy games against scrub competition the Sun Devils earned a nice win (or push) with a second-half comeback against Arizona State. Do I think they're for real? Definitely not. But we have to root for a couple road wins and covers against Stanford and Washington State. That would set the Devils up for the fade when they hit their brutal UW-Cal-Oregon-UCLA-USC stretch.

15) South Carolina (2-1 ATS) - Sweet Steve is no stranger to quarterback controversy so we're not going to knock him for that. He's on this list because he's now 9-0 ATS on the road in SEC games. It's going to be interesting to see what they do as a favorite over their next four games though.

Others receiving votes: UNLV (3-1 ATS), Indiana (2-1 ATS), Florida Atlantic (3-1 ATS), Illinois (2-1 ATS), Ball State (3-1 ATS), Vanderbilt (1-1 ATS), Rutgers (2-0 ATS), Ohio (3-0 ATS).

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Re: College Football News and Notes Week 5

Look Aheads and Let Downs

Talk about having a hang over. Louisville went from a possible national championship contender to now losing two straight matches. The most recent loss for the Cards was just embarrassing as 37 ½-point home favorites over Syracuse. The result of the game was the Orange taking advantage of the Cardinals inability to run a decent pass coverage to the tune of a 38-35. How big an upset is this? CRIS opened the line for the ‘Cuse to win outright at plus 10,000.

Is there anyone out there poised for that caliber of letdown? Probably not, but let’s take a look at a few teams that could find themselves in spots that they could be looking ahead or bouncing back from a tough week.

Looking toward the Red River…

Texas finally looked like the team it was capable of being and played a full 60-minutes last Saturday after beating the Owls as a 38-point home favorite, 58-14. Colt McCoy completed 20 of 29 passes for 333 yards and three touchdowns. Defensively, the Longhorns were terrific against the run, allowing negative 11 yards. Against the pass, however, they gave up 279 yards through the air.

Now the ‘Horns find themselves in an awkward position. They have their annual showdown with Oklahoma in two weeks time. The problem is that Texas gets to play host to Kansas State this Saturday as a 15 ½-point home “chalk.” These are the same Wildcats team that beat them last year as 16 ½-point home ‘dogs, 45-42 in Manhattan. If K-State can get its offense clicking, then UT will have a long day.

Caught up in a Cyclone…

The Cornhuskers escaped their game with Ball State last Saturday with a little luck and a terrific defensive play as 23 ½-point home favorites, 41-40. If it wasn’t for Bo Ruud intercepting the Cardinals’ Nate Davis in the fourth quarter for a touchdown, then this week would have been a exceptionally tough one for the people in Lincoln to endure.

Now Nebraska gets to open its Big 12 season as a 22 ½-point home favorite against the Cyclones this Saturday. It may sound like an easy task for the ‘Huskers to beat them senseless, but looks can be deceiving. Iowa State isn't exactly blowing the doors off of anyone right now with its 1-3 record in Gene Chizik's first year as head coach. However, they have been putting up fine offensive numbers so far, gaining an average of 350.5 YPG this season. And the Cornhuskers' defense have given up more yards each week as the season has progressed (185 vs. Nevada, 376 at Wake Forest, 457 vs. USC and 610 vs. Ball State). This doesn't bode well for a team that was counting on the "Blackshirts" to dominate the competition.

Can Iowa State win? Probably not, but they should certainly cover that spread.

Return to the MAC…

The Cardinals played a great game last week in Lincoln, but still ended up one point short to Nebraska. Now Ball State gets to pick itself up off the ground with a win against the Mid-American Conference’s doormat, the Buffalo Bulls.

Ball State enters the game as a 16 ½-point home “chalk.” And while that is a high number, even for the MAC, there is validity in the line. The Cards have gone 3-0 straight up and 2-0 against the spread versus Buffalo. One of those matches had Ball State cover 16-point spread, 41-21, in 2002. Not a real stretch to think they could do it to the Bulls again.

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Re: College Football News and Notes Week 5

Poor start forces Pitt to start freshman QB Bostick
September 27, 2007

Associated Press

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Not even Dan Marino started this soon in his Pitt career.

Pat Bostick, a high school senior a year ago, makes his first start at quarterback for Pitt on Saturday at Virginia. Coach Dave Wannstedt didn't want to make this move so early in the season or Bostick's career, but an ineffective offense that is threatening to ruin Pitt's season left him little choice.

Bostick will be Pitt's third starting QB in five games, following the injured Bill Stull and Kevan Smith, who was pulled at halftime of a 34-14 loss to Connecticut on Saturday.

Bostick takes over in his fifth college game.

Marino, by comparison, didn't start until more than halfway through his freshman season at Pitt in 1979. Darnell Dickerson, another non-redshirt freshman, made his first college start Nov. 7, 1987, against Rutgers, a week after replacing Sal Genilla in a loss to Syracuse.

Other Pitt quarterbacks have played as freshmen, most notably Alex Van Pelt in 1989, but they were redshirted.

Wannstedt wouldn't be doing this if Stull hadn't badly injured a thumb in the season opener. But Smith played so poorly in losses to Michigan State and UConn that it became obvious it was affecting the rest of the offense. At one point, Pitt (2-2) trailed UConn 34-7 in a home game the Panthers were favored to win big.

"Pat's done some positive things," Wannstedt said. "Let's see if he can take the next step."

The 18-year-old Bostick didn't challenge for the starting job after missing the first week of training camp for undisclosed personal reasons, and his conditioning also was in question. Now, he figures to be the starter until Stull returns.

Bostick was 27-of-42 for 230 yards and one touchdown while playing the second half against UConn, but threw three interceptions. He didn't face much of a rush with UConn content to lay back defensively and let Pitt drain the clock with short passes.

It could be much different at Virginia (3-1), which means another freshman -- running back LeSean McCoy -- may also play a major role. UConn's big lead and some puzzling play-calling led McCoy to carry only 11 times against the Huskies, but he has rushed for 417 yards and a 6.4 yards per carry average in his first four college games.

Unlike Bostick, McCoy spent last year at a prep school and didn't go directly from high school to major college football.

"I was really hopeful that we could have brought Pat along a little bit slower, to be honest," Wannstedt said. "LeSean has made enough plays and done enough things that he needs to be on the field."

To the 19-year-old McCoy, it's easier to make the transition to college football as a running back than as a quarterback.

"You really have to know everything (as a quarterback)," McCoy said. "A running back just has to know who to block and what the linemen are doing."

After Pitt's poor play Saturday, Wannstedt made his quarterbacks off limits to reporters, and Bostick hasn't talked about his pending start.

"Hopefully, me and LaRod (Stephens-Howling, Pitt's other top tailback) can get in there and help him out a little bit ... and he can get into a rhythm with some easy throws and easy reads," McCoy said. "No matter what class you are or how old you are, you have to be ready to play at this level. It's college football, big-time football, so sophomore or freshman, you have to come ready to play."

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Re: College Football News and Notes Week 5

Louisville dismisses LB after drug arrest
September 27, 2007

Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Louisville linebacker Willie A. Williams was kicked off the team Thursday, less than 24 hours after his arrest on a marijuana possession charge.

The 22-year-old was dismissed for violating his agreement with athletic director Tom Jurich.

"I'm very disappointed in Willie," Jurich said in a statement. "I was confident that he had turned the corner in his life and was ready to be a valuable contributor to society and our football program."

Williams was one of the top recruits in the country two years ago, but highly publicized legal problems in high school -- 11 arrests -- nearly cost him a scholarship to Miami. He never panned out with the Hurricanes and spent last year at West Los Angeles Community College.

Wednesday night, Louisville police arrested the 6-3, 230-pound Williams after he was stopped for driving a car with the music playing too loudly, said Louisville police spokesman Phil Russell.

A detective searched the car and found Williams trying to hide a small amount of marijuana, Russell said.

"He basically had the marijuana in his mouth," said Russell, who would not release the identities of the others in the car because they were not arrested.

Williams, also charged with tampering with physical evidence and driving without an operator's license, was released on his own recognizance Wednesday night.

Louisville spokesman Rocco Gasparro said Williams hired local attorney Grant Helman to represent him. A phone call to Helman's office Thursday evening by The Associated Press was not immediately returned.

Williams was accepted at Louisville after meeting extensively with Jurich and coach Steve Kragthorpe. He played in three games for the Cardinals (2-2) this season, collecting nine tackles.

Louisville, which began the season ranked in the Top 10 but has lost two straight, plays at North Carolina State on Saturday.

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