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Friday Football

Friday Football

Game Preview for Northwestern vs Eastern Mich

FACTS amp; STATS: Site: Ford Field (65,000) -- Detroit, Michigan. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: NU 3-2, EMU 1-1. Away Record: NU 1-1, EMU 1-4. Neutral Record: NU 0-0, EMU 0-0. Conference Record: NU 2-2, EMU 1-2. Series Record: Northwestern leads, 1-0.

GAME NOTES: A couple of teams stepping out of conference play hook up at Ford Field this Friday, as the Northwestern Wildcats tangle with the Eastern Michigan Eagles in Detroit. The Eagles enter the contest on a low note, as they concluded a three-game road trip with a 48-42 setback at Ohio University this past weekend. The team dropped all three games on its road swing to fall to 1-4 on foreign soil this season. Now at 2-5 overall, EMU will head out of league play, where it has gone just 1-3 this year. As for NU, it was involved in a thriller last weekend, defeating Minnesota 49-48 in double-overtime. It was the second straight overtime game for the Wildcats, who outlasted Michigan State, 48-41, the previous week. With the consecutive victories, NU now stands at 4-3 overall and that includes a 2-1 mark in non-conference affairs. The Wildcats and Eagles met for the first time ever on the gridiron last season, with NU prevailing by a score of 14-6.

With back-to-back 40-plus point games, the Wildcats are now averaging a solid 28.1 ppg for the year. The offense has done a decent job running (120.4 ypg) the ball, but it has thrived through the air, passing for 321.1 ypg. Last weekend, NU threw for an impressive 470 yards and ran for 119 more in a thrilling 49-48 double-overtime win against Minnesota. C.J. Bacher accounted for all of the team's passing yards on 41-of-58 attempts and he totaled five touchdowns, four of which came through the air. Bacher has done a great job leading this team and he has completed 62.8 percent of his pass attempts for 2,237 yards this season. He has thrown 13 touchdowns and run for three more while being picked off seven times. His favorite targets are Eric Peterman and Ross Lane, whom have combined for 73 catches, 894 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. Last weekend, Peterman pulled down 12 balls for 114 yards and a score, while Lane had nine catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns.

On defense is where NU has struggled this season, allowing opposing teams to score 32.3 ppg and gain 419.3 total ypg. The defense, which has given up 18 passing touchdowns, has had trouble creating big plays, as it has recorded just seven turnovers and only five sacks thus far. Last weekend, the Wildcats forced a pair of turnovers, but they also allowed a whopping 580 total yards of offense to Minnesota. The unit however, did come up big, as it stopped Minnesota on a game-winning two-point conversion attempt in the second overtime. Adam Kadela led the way for NU with 15 stops, and he leads the team with 70 tackles for the season.

The Eagles have had their share of difficulties on the offensive side of things this season, and are averaging a mere 288.0 total ypg. The main reason for the unit's slow start is the ground game, which is producing just 117.7 ppg behind a dismal 3.6 yard per carry average. Last weekend, though, EMU showed some life, posting 425 total yards and a season-high 42 points, although it came in a losing cause to Ohio. Andy Schmitt put forth his finest effort of the season, as he completed 20-of-28 throws for 210 yards and four touchdowns. He also led the team with 55 rushing yards on 15 totes. For the year, Schmitt has done a solid job of completing 62.9 percent of his throws for 1,093 yards, and he has 10 passing touchdowns against just five interceptions. He even ranks second on the team with 147 rushing yards. DeAnthony White has been a favorite target of Schmitt this year, hauling in 25 balls for 277 yard and two scores. Against Ohio, White pulled down six passes that led to 74 yards and a touchdown.

Keeping opponents from scoring and gaining yards has been a problem this season for EMU, which is surrendering 30.0 ppg and 410.3 total ypg. The defense has really struggled against the run (199.0 ypg), but has done a good job creating turnovers, forcing 15 (10 interceptions) this season. Last weekend, the Eagles forced four turnovers, but it still wasn't enough to stop Ohio, which rolled up 510 yards of total offense. EMU gave up 241 of those yards on the ground, but the defense did score a touchdown on an 80-yard fumble return by Derrick Hunter. Daniel Holtzclaw posted 13 tackles in the loss, giving him a team-best 81 stops for the year. Jason Jones added a sack and 1.5 TFLs, and he leads the team in both categories with 3.5 sacks and 14 TFLs for the season.

The Wildcats possess the more prolific offense here and that should help them outlast an EMU club that has struggled to move that ball at times this season.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northwestern 28, Eastern Michigan 17

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Re: Friday Football

Game Preview for Louisville vs Connecticut

FACTS amp; STATS: Site: Rentschler Field (40,000) -- East Hartford, Connecticut. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Louisville 2-2, UConn 3-0. Away Record: Louisville 2-1, UConn 2-1. Neutral Record: Louisville 0-0, UConn 0-0. Conference Record: Louisville 1-1, UConn 1-0. Series Record: Louisville leads, 3-0.

GAME NOTES: A couple of teams in search of their second Big East win of the season collide at Rentschler Field this Friday, as the Louisville Cardinals take on the Connecticut Huskies. The Cardinals enter the contest on a high note, as they knocked off nationally-ranked and previously unbeaten Cincinnati, 28-24, last weekend. It was the first Big East win of the season for Louisville, which has won two of its last three games to improve to 4-3 overall. The Cardinals have won two of their three road games this season, with the one loss coming at nationally-ranked Kentucky (40-34) on September 15th. As for UConn, it suffered its first setback of the season last weekend, dropping a narrow 17-16 decision at Virginia. Despite the loss, the team's 5-1 record is still its best start to a season since opening the 1998 campaign 7-1. The Huskies now return back to Big East play, where they won their only outing against Pittsburgh (34-14) back on September 22nd. UConn however, has never defeated Louisville before, losing all three prior meetings with the Cardinals, including a 48-17 drumming last season.

The Cardinals possess one of the most prolific offenses not only in the Big East, but in the entire nation, as they are averaging 41.7 ppg and 559.6 total ypg. The team is gaining a solid 161.9 ypg on the ground and an impressive 397.7 ypg through the air. Quarterback Brian Brohm is in the midst of a simply outstanding season, as he has completed 67.7 percent of his throws for 2,765 yards, with 23 touchdowns against just four interceptions. Last weekend, Brohm was brilliant once again, converting on 28-of-38 pass attempts for 350 yards and three scores in a 28-24 upset of Cincinnati. Harry Douglas returned from injury last weekend and played a big factor in the game, catching seven balls for 118 yards. With Douglas back in the lineup, the Cardinals should be even more dangerous, as he leads the team with 45 catches and 797 receiving yards. Tight end Gary Barnidge is another weapon Brohm has utilized this season, and he ranks second on the team in catches (31) and receiving yards (401) and first in receiving touchdowns (six). In the backfield, Anthony Allen has seen a majority of the workload this season and he has done a good job in rushing for 602 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Cardinals' defense has been heavily criticized this season and rightfully so, as they are giving up a way too high 29.7 ppg and 446.7 total ypg. The defense however, stepped up last weekend for Louisville, forcing four key turnovers in a 28-24 win over Cincinnati. The turnovers played a big part in the win, as the Cardinals' defense did surrender 460 total yards. For the year, Louisville has now forced 17 turnovers and it will need to continue to add to that total considering the numerous yards this unit keeps allowing. Lamar Myles has clearly been the Cardinals most important player on defense, as his 78 tackles are 47 more than the next closest player on the team. He posted a team-high 12 stops in last weekend's win.

Offensively, UConn has made the most of its opportunities this season, averaging an impressive 33.2 ppg behind a decent 375.3 total ypg. The unit has shown good balance between the run (163.8 ypg) and pass (211.5 ypg), and it has turned the ball over just seven times. Facing one of their toughest opponents of the season last weekend, the Huskies were limited to just 254 total yards in a 17-16 loss to Virginia. The team committed two turnovers in the game and made good on just 1-of-13 third down tries. Tyler Lorenzen threw for 176 yards and a score in the loss, and he also rushed 13 times for 33 yards. The versatile quarterback hasn't thrown for many touchdowns (seven) this season, but he has completed 61.5 percent of his pass attempts for 1,259 yards. He is also a threat with his legs, rushing for 169 yards and a touchdown. Speaking of running the ball, Donald Brown and Andre Dixon have both rushed for over 300 yards this season, but neither player has participated in every game. Brown, the team's leading rushing with 358 yards and five touchdowns, missed last game and is listed as questionable for this contest with an ankle injury. Dixon stepped in for Brown last weekend and rushed for 63 yards on 14 carries, brining his season total to 328.

The Huskies have done an outstanding job on the defensive side of the ball this season, as they are limiting their foes to a mere 12.0 ppg and only 264.2 total ypg. The unit has fared well against both the run (99.0 ypg) and pass (165.2 ypg), and it has forced 17 turnovers, including 13 on interceptions. Last weekend, the defense put forth another strong effort, as it forced three turnovers and held to Virginia to 332 total yards in a losing cause. UConn also recorded two sacks, giving it a total of 18 for the year. Lawrence Wilson led the charge with 17 tackles and three TFLs, while Robert Vaughn notched his team-best fifth interception of the season. For the year, Wilson leads the club with 62 stops and Julius Williams is tops on the team with 5.5 sacks.

UConn is off to a good start, but it has yet to face an opponent the caliber of Louisville. The Cardinals simply have too many weapons for the Huskies to handle and they should run away with this one behind the strong and accurate arm of Brohm.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisville 38, Connecticut 24

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Re: Friday Football

Louisville not giving up on season
October 18, 2007

STORRS, Conn. (AP) -Louisville was expected to cruise into Connecticut Friday night in contention for a national championship and ready to beat up on a team picked by many to be the doormat of the Big East.


The Cardinals (4-3, 1-1 Big East) instead find themselves at midseason looking up in the standings at the Huskies (5-1, 1-0), whose only loss came when Virginia kicked a field goal in the closing minutes of a 17-16 victory last Saturday in a nonconference game.

The matchup of Louisville's high-powered offense and Connecticut's stingy defense could put one of the teams in position to challenge for the conference title.

Connecticut has given up just 12 points per game and is ranked sixth in the nation in total defense, holding opponents to an average of 264 yards, including just 98 through the air.

``I don't think there is any question that to date this is the best defense that we will have played,'' said Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe.

There is also no question that this will be the best offense the Huskies have seen.

Louisville, which was ranked as high as No. 8, before losses to Kentucky, Syracuse and Utah, has put up almost 560 yards per game, including 398 yards through the air.

While the Huskies will be trying to rebound from a loss, the Cardinals are coming off their most impressive victory of the season, a 28-24 road win over then-No. 15 Cincinnati.

Heisman hopeful Brian Brohm threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns, and senior wide receiver Harry Douglas returned from an injury to make seven catches for 118 yards.

The Cardinals offense could get another boost this week with the expected return of wide receiver Mario Urrutia from injury.

UConn cornerback Darius Butler said the key to beating Louisville will be pressuring Brohm and keeping him from finding those targets.

``As long as he doesn't have time, he can't be as good as he is,'' Butler said. ``We've got to get him rattled. We've got to get some hits on him and knock him off his game a little bit.''

Louisville is 3-0 against the Huskies, including a 48-17 route last year in Kentucky. The Cardinals are 2-1 on the road this season.

``We have a chip on our shoulder,'' said Louisville defensive lineman Earl Heyman. ``That's how we have to play. We enjoy the challenge of going into a hostile environment. That's exactly what that is. We would have it no other way.''

UConn is fighting for some respect. Their five victories this season have come against teams that have combined for just nine wins all year.

``It wouldn't really say this is a defining game, it's just another challenge, a bigger challenge,'' UConn defensive tackle Dan Davis said.

It's the first of several big challenges that both teams will face coming down the stretch.

After Louisville, UConn has games left against No. 2 South Florida (6-0), Rutgers (4-2), No. 23 Cincinnati (6-1), Syracuse (1-6) and No. 8 West Virginia (5-1).

Louisville must play the Mountaineers, Scarlet Knights and Bulls along with Pittsburgh.

``To drop three games makes you question yourself and what might you have done better, or might have done wrong,'' said Louisville wide receiver Pat Carter. ``This conference is still open and we can still win it.''

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Re: Friday Football

Louisville at UConn
By Brian Edwards 

The sinking ship that was Louisville football found a raft and a life jacket in Cincinnati last week. Now if the Cardinals can collect another Big East road win Friday night in Storrs, they might find their way to shore and actually be a player in the conference race.

The Steve Kragthorpe Era got off to an inauspicious start. Louisville (4-3 straight up, 2-4 against the spread) lost to a pair of mediocre opponents – Syracuse (38-35) and Utah (44-35) – at home and also went down at Kentucky (40-34).

But maybe – just maybe – last week’s 28-24 win at Cincinnati will propel the Cardinals to bigger things in the coming weeks. Brian Brohm was the catalyst in the win over the previously-unbeaten Bearcats, completing 28-of-38 passes for 351 yards and three touchdowns.

Brohm completed a 51-yard pass to Harry Douglas in the fourth quarter, setting up Anthony Allen’s three-yard touchdown plunge for the go-ahead score.

On the other end of the spectrum, Connecticut (5-1 SU, 4-1 ATS) is coming off its first loss of the season, a 17-16 setback at Virginia. However, the Huskies did produce profit for their backers as three-point underdogs at most books.

UConn raced out to a 5-0 start before the unsuccessful trip to Charlottesville. However, that undefeated ledger was quite misleading. All credit to Randy Edsall and Co. for the five wins, but none of those victories were noteworthy.

In fact, UConn’s first five foes have a combined record of 9-24.

Most sports books are listing Louisville as a three-point road favorite with a total of 63. Gamblers can back the Huskies on the money line for a plus 135 return (risk $100 to win $135).

UConn has a 2-0 spread record as an underdog this year. In addition to the cover at UVA, the Huskies destroyed Pitt 34-14 as 7 ½-point road ‘dogs. Dating back to last season, UConn has taken the cash in five of its last six games as a ‘dog.

Donald Brown is UConn’s leading rusher (5 rushing TDs, 4.4 yards per carry), but he missed last week’s game against the Wahoos. He’s expected to return this week, but UConn also has Andre Dixon, who is averaging 6.1 YPC.

UConn QB Tyler Lorenzen is enjoying an excellent season, completing 61.5 percent of his throws for 1,259 yards. He has a 7/3 touchdown-interception ratio.

As for Louisville, it has been a single-digit ‘chalk’ just twice this season. The Cards lost 40-34 at Kentucky as five-point favorites, and they covered the number in a 29-10 win at N.C. St. as nine-point ‘chalk.’

Louisville has won all three meetings against UConn by an average of 20 points per game. The Cards took the money last year in a 48-17 home win over the Huskies as 28-point favorites.

Back to Brohm, who can’t be blamed for Louisville’s failures this year. He has an incredible 23/4 TD-INT ratio. Brohm has connected on 67.7 percent of his passes for 2,765 yards. Douglas remains his favorite target, hauling in 45 receptions for 797 yards and five TDs.

Anthony Allen leads the U of L in rushing, gaining 602 yards on 114 totes. Allen averages 5.3 YPC and has found paydirt seven times.

The ‘over’ is 2-1 for UConn. On the flip side, the ‘under’ is 3-2 for Louisville.

ESPN will provide television coverage at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

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Re: Friday Football

What bettors need to know: Louisville at Connecticut

What can Brown do for you?

Connecticut Huskies running back Donald Brown II will return to action Friday night against the Louisville Cardinals.

Brown sprained his left ankle in the Huskies’ 44-10 win over the Akron Zips on Sept. 29. He made the trip to Virginia last Saturday but did not participate in UConn’s 17-16 loss to the Cavaliers.

“He's ready to go, he's better than he was last week,” Huskies coach Randy Edsall told the Hartford Courant. “He'll play. We'll probably start Andre [Dixon, another sophomore]. But Donald's better this week and ... we will get something out of him this week as opposed to a week ago.”

The sophomore leads the Huskies with 358 rushing yards and five touchdowns this season. Brown also has six catches for 36 receiving yards. Dixon, a sophomore, rushed for 63 yards on 13 carries in last Saturday’s loss to the Cavaliers.

Rabid fans

The Huskies are hoping their supporters create an intimidating environment Friday at Rentschler Field in an attempt to rattle Louisville’s star quarterback Brian Brohm.

“[We're] going to need our crowd to really help us on Friday night,” Edsall told the Hartford Courant. “We need to have our crowd get into the games like the Virginia crowd got into the game last week and create an atmosphere that makes it very, very tough for the opponents. We need to have them into it and create that 12th man for us when we're playing at home.”

Huskies cornerback Darius Butler is hoping the traditional Rentschler early fourth-quarter mass departure doesn't occur Friday against Louisville.

"Just stay the whole game, cheer, do what a crowd does and make it uncomfortable for the other team," Butler said.

Brohm has passed for more than 2,700 yards with 23 touchdowns and four interceptions this season. The senior quarterback also ranks sixth in the country with an impressive 168.7 passer rating.

Road warriors

It has been a topsy-turvy season for the Louisville Cardinals and first-year head coach Steve Kragthorpe.

The Cardinals lost three of their last four games before a 28-24 upset win over 15th-ranked Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium last Saturday. It was their second road win this season after they outlasted North Carolina State.

“To drop three games, it kind of makes you question yourself as to what you might have done better and might have done wrong,” Louisville senior Patrick Carter told reporters Saturday. “So that game was very inspirational for us and lets us know this conference is still open, and we can definitely go out there and still win it.”

Louisville’s only road loss came against the 13th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats on a last-minute touchdown at Commonwealth Stadium.

“So far, I think we have displayed more of a sense of urgency on the road," Carter continued. “Hopefully that will carry over throughout the course of the season for all our games.”

The series

The Huskies are 0-3 all-time against the Cardinals, including one loss at Rentschler Field. Brian Brohm passed for 341 yards passing and four touchdowns in the Cards 48-17 win over the Huskies last season at Papa John’s Stadium in Lexington.

Cardinals coach Steve Kragthorpe, however, isn’t overlooking the improved Huskies.

“To date this is the best defense we will face,” Kragthorpe told reporters. “They don't give up big plays. They keep the ball in front of them. They're in the top 10 in the country in defense, and sometimes you'll see a ranking and not sure how it can be skewed, but that's not the case with (UConn). They're playing very, very well.”

The Huskies, tied for first-place in the Big East, are 4-1 against the spread (ATS) in their last four games against Big East opponents. They are 1-0 against the Big East this season.

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Re: Friday Football

Northwestern (4-3, 2-4 ATS) vs. Eastern Michigan (2-5, 3-3 ATS), at Detroit

Eastern Michigan and Northwestern step out of conference briefly to face off against one another for the second straight year, this time at Ford Field in Motown.

The Wildcats outlasted Minnesota 49-48 in double overtime on Saturday, failing to cover as a 6½-point home chalk. Northwestern, which has followed up a three-game losing skid with back-to-back overtime wins, rolled up 589 total yards (470 passing yards), but the defense surrendered 580, including 239 on the ground.

Eastern Michigan traveled to Ohio last week and quickly fell behind 28-0, but the Eagles battled back and made things respectable in a 48-42 loss, coming up just short as a four-point road underdog. The Eagles’ defense gave up 510 yards, but forced four turnovers while the offense committed none.

Eastern Michigan has lost three in a row (all on the road) and 21 of its last 25 going back to 2005. Also, the Eagles have dropped four straight at home (1-3 ATS).

Northwestern struggled to get past the Eagles last year, winning 14-6 but never threatening to cover as a 17½-point home chalk. Eastern Michigan had two chances to tie the game late, but threw a pair of interceptions in Wildcats territory on their final two drives.

Northwestern quarterback C.J. Bacher has been on fire the last two games with 990 passing yards, nine TDs and no INTs, but he hasn’t gotten any help from a defense that’s yielded 89 points in those two contests. For the season, Bacher is connecting on 63 percent of his passes for 2,237 yards with 13 TDs and seven INTs.

The Wildcats have a huge edge on offense, averaging 28 points and 442 yards per game, compared with 21.3 points and 288 yards per contest for Eastern Michigan. Defensively, both squads surrender at least 30 points and more than 410 yards per contest.

Since 1996, Eastern Michigan is just 6-10 SU and 2-5 ATS in non-conference home games.

Northwestern is mired in a 4-8 ATS slump as a favorite, including 0-3 ATS this year. The Wildcats are also 1-7 ATS in their last eight non-Big Ten contests.

The over is 7-3 in Northwestern’s last 10 non-conference tilts, but Eastern Michigan is on under runs of 9-3 at home, 16-5 on artificial turf and 7-2 in October.


Louisville (4-3, 2-4 ATS) at Connecticut (5-1, 4-1 ATS)

UConn hosts a rare nationally televised game tonight when it butts heads with Louisville in a key Big East matchup for both schools.

The Huskies went to Virginia last week and suffered a tough 17-16 non-conference loss the Cavaliers. UConn managed just 254 total yards (78 rushing), but the defense forced three turnovers, helping the Huskies cover as a three-point road underdog.

Louisville bounced back from an embarrassing 44-35 home loss to Utah and ended Cincinnati’s perfect season with a 28-24 victory as a 10-point road underdog on Saturday. The Cardinals’ defense forced four turnovers and QB Brian Brohm went 28-for-38 for 350 yards with three TDs and no picks. Brohm continues to enjoy a sensational season, having thrown for 2,765 yards with 23 TDs and four INTs.

UConn is 1-0 in Big East action, while the Cardinals are 1-1 SU and ATS league play.

Louisville hammered the Huskies 48-17 at home last year, eking out a spread-cover as a 28½-point favorite. The Cardinals piled up 570 total yards and allowed just 236, with Brohm going 20 of 28 for 341 yards with four TDs and one pick.

This game features a clash of one of the nation’s best offenses – Louisville is averaging 41.7 points and 560 yards – against one of the stingiest defenses – the Huskies permit just 12 points and 264.2 yards. The Cardinals have tallied at least 28 points in all seven games this year, while UConn hasn’t given up more than 17 points all season.

The Huskies are on positive ATS runs of 10-4 at home and 5-1 as a home underdog.

Louisville is 1-4 ATS as a favorite this year (1-1 as a road chalk). However, the Cardinals are on positive ATS runs of 4-1 in conference, 4-1 against teams with a winning record and 18-8 following a spread-cover.

The total has alternated in each of Louisville’s last eight lined games dating to last year, with last week’s game at Cincinnati staying under the posted price. Also, the total has alternated in UConn’s first four lined contests this year.


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