Thursday Football

Thursday Football

Thursday's College Football TV Capsule

Opening Line: West Virginia by 17.

Series Record: West Virginia leads 6-2.

Last Meeting: 2006, Louisville 44-34

Last Meeting: 2006, Louisville 44-34

Three of the last four meetings have been decided by two points or fewer, including a triple-overtime game in 2005 in Morgantown. ... Louisville is fourth in the nation in passing offense (360.9 yards per game) and sixth in total offense (510.4 yards per game). ... The Cardinals are last in the Big East in passing defense (140.6) and second to last in total defense (411.3 yards per game). ... Louisville is averaging 37 points per game. ... West Virginia is third in the nation in rushing offense (297.9 yards per game). ... The Mountaineers lead the Big East in rushing defense (101.1 yards per game), and total defense (262.1 yards per game) and are third in passing defense (105.16). ... West Virginia is ninth in the nation in scoring offense (40.8 points per game). ... Since 2000, the Mountaineers are 50-1 when scoring 30 or more points in a game. Their only loss came in last year's game against Louisville.

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Re: Thursday Football

Game Preview for Louisville vs West Virginia

GAME NOTES: The sixth-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers try to keep their Big East and national title hopes alive this Thursday, as they entertain the Louisville Cardinals at Milan Puskar Stadium. The Mountaineers enter the contest on a roll, winning three straight games, including a convincing 31-3 triumph at Rutgers on October 27th. With the win, WVU improved to 2-1 in league play, leaving it just one game back in the loss column of first place UConn, which stands at a perfect 4-0. Now at a solid 7-1 overall and ranked a lofty sixth in the nation, the Mountaineers return back home, where they have gone 10-0 all-time in night games under head coach Rich Rodriguez. As for Louisville, it was last in play on October 27th as well, defeating Pittsburgh 24-17. It was the second win in three outings by the Cardinals, who improved to 5-4 overall and an even 2-2 in league play. The team now heads out to the road, where it has gone 2-2 and that includes a 28-24 victory over then 15th- ranked Cincinnati on October 13th. With regard to the all-time series, WVU owns a 6-2 edge over Louisville, but the Cardinals won last year's meeting, 44-34, at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

The Cardinals possess one of the most potent offensive attacks around and they ranks first in the Big East and sixth in the nation with an average of 510.4 total ypg. The offense, which is scoring a solid 37.0 ppg, has relied heavily on its aerial attack, ranking fourth in the country with 360.9 passing ypg. Quarterback Brian Brohm is one of the premier players at his position and he has completed an efficient 68.2 percent of his throws for 358.8 passing ypg, with 26 touchdowns against only seven interceptions. In the team's last game, Brohm didn't put forth his best effort of the season, but he still converted on 21-of-30 tosses for 236 yards and two scores in a 24-17 triumph over Pittsburgh. Harry Douglas was on the receiving end of six of those passes and he finished the game with 63 yards and a touchdown. On the year, Douglas leads the club in catches (55) and receiving yards (879), and he is tied with Gary Barnidge for the team-lead in receiving touchdowns with six. Speaking of Barnidge, he is one of the top tight ends in the Big East and he ranks second to Douglas with 41 catches and 505 receiving yards. In the backfield, Anthony Allen leads the club with 664 yards and seven scores, although the running game's production has steadily decreased as the season has worn on.

Louisville's defense has shown improvement in recent weeks, but overall the unit hasn't fared well in allowing 27.3 ppg and 411.3 total ypg. The defense is giving up 153.9 ypg on the ground and 257.4 ypg through the air and it has record a mere six interceptions thus far. In the squad's previous contest, the Cardinals put together one of their better efforts of the season on defense, as they held Pittsburgh to just 270 total yards. Louisville forced just one turnover, but that came in the closing moments when Pittsburgh was trying to tie the score. Lamar Myles led the charge with eight tackles and three TFLs in the win. For the year, Myles has clearly been the team's most productive player on this side of the ball, as his 93 tackles are nearly triple the next closest player on the roster.

There isn't many teams that can match Louisville's explosive offense, but WVU is one, as the Mountaineers lead the Big East in scoring (40.8 ppg) and rank second in total yards (470.9 ypg). Unlike the Cardinals though, the Mountaineers do most of their damage on the ground, where they are averaging 297.9 ypg to rank third in the nation. Of the team's 42 offensive touchdowns, 31 have come via the run. Heisman hopeful Steve Slaton has accounted for 13 of the team's rushing touchdowns this season and he also leads the club with 825 yards. Quarterback Patrick White, a Heisman candidate himself, ranks second to Slaton with 656 rushing yards and nine touchdowns, and he has also completed an efficient 70.0 percent of his throws, with nine more scores. In the club's prior outing, WVU racked up 398 total yards, including 254 on the ground, in a 31-3 win over Rutgers. White headed the charge, as he rushed for 156 yards and a score, in addition to completing 10-of-16 tosses for 144 yards. Slaton was limited to 73 yards on 16 carries, but he did end up scoring three touchdowns. He also hauled in a 51-yard pass. Another player worth mentioning in this potent attack is Darius Reynaud, the team's leading receiver with 39 catches, 461 yards and eight scores.

The biggest surprise for WVU this season has been its defense, which ranks fourth in the nation in total yards (262.1 ypg) and sixth in scoring (14.9 ppg). The defense has shown it can clamp down against both the run (101.1 ypg) and pass (161.0 ypg), and it has also done a good job in forcing turnovers (22). The unit is even coming off one of its finest performances of the season, as the Mountaineers allowed just 314 total yards and a season-low three points to Rutgers. WVU forced four turnovers in that contest and it was led by Reed Williams, who logged 13 tackles. Williams leads the club with 68 stops for the year, while Johnny Dingle leads the team with 10.5 TFLs and six sacks.

This was supposed to be one of the biggest games of the season for the Big East, but Louisville's struggles have put a damper on that. WVU has been flying under the radar since its lone loss to South Florida and that may not be a bad thing considering all the upsets in college football this season. The Mountaineers clearly have the better defense here and even if that unit gets torched a bit, WVU has plenty of weapons on offense to outlast the Cardinals in this contest.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: West Virginia 42, Louisville 27

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Re: Thursday Football

Game Preview for T-C-U vs B-Y-U

FACTS amp; STATS: Site: LaVell Edwards Stadium (65,000) -- Provo, Utah. Television: Versus. Home Record: TCU 4-1, BYU 4-0. Away Record: TCU 1-3, BYU 2-2. Neutral Record: TCU 0-0, BYU 0-0. Conference Record: TCU 2-3, BYU 4-0. Series Record: BYU leads, 4-2.

GAME NOTES: A special Thursday night edition of Mountain West Conference football pits a streaking BYU Cougars squad against an enigmatic TCU group at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo. Since losing back-to-back matchups against the likes of UCLA and Tulsa back in early September, the Cougars have not missed a step. The squad has ripped off five straight victories, four of those coming against the rest of the MWC. Last Saturday, following a postponed date versus San Diego State which will be made up the first weekend in December, the Cougars crushed Colorado State at home in a 35-16 affair. The win kept BYU unbeaten in conference play at 4-0, with meetings against Wyoming, Utah and SDSU remaining. As for the Horned Frogs, who were again expected to challenge for the conference title, they've been a difficult team to get a read on from week to week. After falling to Utah at home back in the middle of October, TCU had plenty of time to scheme for New Mexico and ended up handing the Lobos their first shutout since 2002 in a 37-0 decision in Fort Worth last weekend. The win was the second in the last three games for the Frogs who are now just 2-3 in MWC action but still have their eyes on the postseason with a 5-4 overall mark. As far as the all-time series between these two schools is concerned, the Cougars hold a 4-2 advantage thanks to a 31-17 victory a season ago on the road in Texas. As members of the Mountain West Conference, the teams have split their two meetings, with the Frogs posting a wild 51-50 overtime triumph two seasons ago in this stadium.

The offense for the Horned Frogs started out slow versus New Mexico last week, but the squad quickly heated up as it produced 421 yards of total offense in the lopsided decision. Andy Dalton converted 11-of-18 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns, while Joseph Turner took the lead in the rushing department with his 115 yards on 28 carries as he filled in for an injured Aaron Brown who had just three carries for six yards before exiting with a knee injury. All indications are that Brown will be back in the lineup for the Horned Frogs this weekend for what promises to be the biggest game of the season for the squad. Brown, who was picked as the MWC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, has been rather average when he has been in the lineup, carrying the ball 87 times for 449 yards and just a single touchdown. His lack of production is one of the reasons why TCU has had so much trouble getting on track and staying consistent this season. Dalton has had to step up his presence in the pocket, resulting in 186 ypg and nine touchdowns, but he also has eight interceptions for a squad that is eighth in the conference and 84th in the nation with 359.8 ypg in total offense.

The New Mexico offense was held to a standstill by the Horned Frogs who allowed the visitors a scant 28 yards rushing on 26 attempts. Even better, the Lobos finished up with just 91 yards passing, resulting in barely two yards per play for UNM against a punishing and rejuvenated TCU defense. Making his first career start for the Horned Frogs, junior safety Stephen Hodge made quite an impact for the group as he posted a team-best seven tackles, had three pass breakups, one sack and a forced fumble that was returned 13 yards for a touchdown by teammate Rafael Priest. Needless to say, Hodge took home a share of the MWC Defensive Player of the Week honor as a result. The shutout was the second of the season for the Frogs and the fourth time the group has held an opponent to 12 points or less. The pass defense has been especially powerful for the Frogs, holding opponents to just 180.1 ypg to rank first in the league and 11th in the nation. With his 11.5 tackles for loss and six sacks, both of which are team highs, Chase Ortiz is a major reason why TCU has the 12th-best scoring defense in the land with only 17.8 ppg allowed.

Max Hall completed all but eight of his 30 pass attempts versus Colorado State, finishing with 355 yards and three touchdowns as the Cougars easily dismissed the Rams at home in Provo. Running backs Harvey Unga and Manase Tonga added scoring runs of their own as the home team focused more on passing the ball than it did on the ground with just 106 yards on 38 carries. What made the BYU offense so dominating was the fact that the squad was forced into third-down plays just 11 times the entire game. Even though the ground attack for the Cougars has managed only 141.2 ypg this season, currently seventh in the conference and 74th in the nation, Hall has not forgotten about how important their presence is down near the goal line. The combination of Unga and Tonga has accounted for 13 of the unit's 15 rushing touchdowns thus far while Hall (310.6 ypg) is completing 60.2 percent of his attempts en route to 17 touchdowns, but also nine picks. Despite being ranked 44th in the nation in scoring, the team's 30.9 ppg is actually the best mark in all of the Mountain West Conference heading into action this week.

Even though CSU managed to come up with 16 points somehow, the defense for the Cougars never felt threatened because the Rams didn't score their first and only offensive touchdown until there was 8:20 remaining in the fourth quarter. BYU, which had experienced some unexpected time off due to the wildfires in southern California, made sure that the heavy hitters were back on track as Kelly Poppinga led the way with his 15 tackles, followed by Jan Jorgensen and Quinn Gooch who registered 13 stops apiece. With his huge effort last week, Poppinga now leads the team in total tackles over eight games with 60 stops, but the defense really has belonged to Jorgensen. Third on the team with 50 tackles, Jorgensen is first on the unit with 10 TFLs and seven sacks, a major reason why the team is third in the conference in total defense with just 307.1 ypg allowed. If there's any problems with the Cougars at this moment in the season it is the fact that the team is second-to-last in the MWC and 101st nationally with a turnover margin of minus-.75 turnovers per game.

While TCU is certainly a talented team, there's no telling which version of the Horned Frogs is going to hit the field in Provo this week. Certainly the squad will bring the defense that has done so well against the pass so far in 2007, but the Cougars still have too many weapons on both sides of the ball to be denied.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: BYU 23, TCU 17

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Re: Thursday Football

West Virginia hosts Louisville in Morgantown
November 7th, 2007

Morgantown, WV (Sports Network) - The sixth-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers try to keep their Big East and national title hopes alive this Thursday, as they entertain the Louisville Cardinals at Milan Puskar Stadium.

The Mountaineers enter the contest on a roll, winning three straight games, including a convincing 31-3 triumph at Rutgers on October 27th. With the win, WVU improved to 2-1 in league play, leaving it just one game back in the loss column of first place UConn, which stands at a perfect 4-0. Now at a solid 7-1 overall and ranked a lofty sixth in the nation, the Mountaineers return back home, where they have gone 10-0 all-time in night games under head coach Rich Rodriguez.

As for Louisville, it was last in play on October 27th as well, defeating Pittsburgh 24-17. It was the second win in three outings by the Cardinals, who improved to 5-4 overall and an even 2-2 in league play. The team now heads out to the road, where it has gone 2-2 and that includes a 28-24 victory over then 15th-ranked Cincinnati on October 13th.

With regard to the all-time series, WVU owns a 6-2 edge over Louisville, but the Cardinals won last year's meeting, 44-34, at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

The Cardinals possess one of the most potent offensive attacks around and they ranks first in the Big East and sixth in the nation with an average of 510.4 total ypg. The offense, which is scoring a solid 37.0 ppg, has relied heavily on its aerial attack, ranking fourth in the country with 360.9 passing ypg. Quarterback Brian Brohm is one of the premier players at his position and he has completed an efficient 68.2 percent of his throws for 358.8 passing ypg, with 26 touchdowns against only seven interceptions. In the team's last game, Brohm didn't put forth his best effort of the season, but he still converted on 21-of-30 tosses for 236 yards and two scores in a 24-17 triumph over Pittsburgh. Harry Douglas was on the receiving end of six of those passes and he finished the game with 63 yards and a touchdown. On the year, Douglas leads the club in catches (55) and receiving yards (879), and he is tied with Gary Barnidge for the team-lead in receiving touchdowns with six. Speaking of Barnidge, he is one of the top tight ends in the Big East and he ranks second to Douglas with 41 catches and 505 receiving yards. In the backfield, Anthony Allen leads the club with 664 yards and seven scores, although the running game's production has steadily decreased as the season has worn on.

Louisville's defense has shown improvement in recent weeks, but overall the unit hasn't fared well in allowing 27.3 ppg and 411.3 total ypg. The defense is giving up 153.9 ypg on the ground and 257.4 ypg through the air and it has record a mere six interceptions thus far. In the squad's previous contest, the Cardinals put together one of their better efforts of the season on defense, as they held Pittsburgh to just 270 total yards. Louisville forced just one turnover, but that came in the closing moments when Pittsburgh was trying to tie the score. Lamar Myles led the charge with eight tackles and three TFLs in the win. For the year, Myles has clearly been the team's most productive player on this side of the ball, as his 93 tackles are nearly triple the next closest player on the roster.

There isn't many teams that can match Louisville's explosive offense, but WVU is one, as the Mountaineers lead the Big East in scoring (40.8 ppg) and rank second in total yards (470.9 ypg). Unlike the Cardinals though, the Mountaineers do most of their damage on the ground, where they are averaging 297.9 ypg to rank third in the nation. Of the team's 42 offensive touchdowns, 31 have come via the run. Heisman hopeful Steve Slaton has accounted for 13 of the team's rushing touchdowns this season and he also leads the club with 825 yards. Quarterback Patrick White, a Heisman candidate himself, ranks second to Slaton with 656 rushing yards and nine touchdowns, and he has also completed an efficient 70.0 percent of his throws, with nine more scores. In the club's prior outing, WVU racked up 398 total yards, including 254 on the ground, in a 31-3 win over Rutgers. White headed the charge, as he rushed for 156 yards and a score, in addition to completing 10-of-16 tosses for 144 yards. Slaton was limited to 73 yards on 16 carries, but he did end up scoring three touchdowns. He also hauled in a 51-yard pass. Another player worth mentioning in this potent attack is Darius Reynaud, the team's leading receiver with 39 catches, 461 yards and eight scores.

The biggest surprise for WVU this season has been its defense, which ranks fourth in the nation in total yards (262.1 ypg) and sixth in scoring (14.9 ppg). The defense has shown it can clamp down against both the run (101.1 ypg) and pass (161.0 ypg), and it has also done a good job in forcing turnovers (22). The unit is even coming off one of its finest performances of the season, as the Mountaineers allowed just 314 total yards and a season-low three points to Rutgers. WVU forced four turnovers in that contest and it was led by Reed Williams, who logged 13 tackles. Williams leads the club with 68 stops for the year, while Johnny Dingle leads the team with 10.5 TFLs and six sacks.

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What bettors need to know: Louisville at West Virginia
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Cards out to prove a point

Louisville started the season ranked No. 8 in the nation, but four losses in six games has all but ruled them out of the Big East title race. Still, the Cardinals are confident they can prove a point against West Virginia on Thursday night.

"It's an opportunity to go and get a big, big upset and go out there and show on national TV that we're still a good football team and we can still play," quarterback Brian Brohm told The Associated Press.

"Obviously it hasn't gone the way we planned," he said when asked about this season. "But I think we've got to put that behind us and look at it like it's a new season these last three games and make the most out of the season we can."

The Cardinals will likely need to win two of those three games if they are to claim a bowl berth for the 10th consecutive year. After WVU, they face South Florida and Rutgers.

A win at Mountaineer Field won’t be easy to achieve. Last season, Louisville lost 46-44 in a thrilling triple-overtime game there. Brohm, the nation’s fifth-ranked QB with 26 TD passes, believes his team can push the Mountaineers all the way once again.

"We feel we can play with anybody, and we feel we're matched evenly with West Virginia," he said. "We don't feel like they have any superior talent or any advantage over us. We can play with them, we can play with everybody that's left on our schedule. There's no intimidation factor going in there."

The past five games between these teams have been decided by 10 points or less.

Mountaineers’ offense on a high


The Mountaineers’ offense is among the best in the nation this year and is largely responsible for the team’s 8-1 record. It ranks seventh, averaging 40.9 points per contest, and has outscored the last three opponents by a combined 124-30.

Quarterback Pat White and running back Steve Slaton lead the way. Slaton has run for 825 yards and 14 touchdowns, while White has tallied 1,070 passing yards and nine passing touchdowns. White has also rushed for 620 yards and is a Heisman Trophy candidate.

"The first time you see Pat, you think you have an angle and you don't," West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez told AP. "He's such an explosive player, there are a lot of times when there are people around him where he outruns the angle or makes people miss."

Slaton and White destroyed Louisville’s defense in both games last season. Slaton rushed for 344 yards and six TDs, while White threw for 222 yards.
“Pat and Steve are obviously dynamic with the ball in their hands, and they’re getting the ball to Darius (Reynaud) and the rest of the receivers as well,” Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe told the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.
“I think Rich (Rodriguez) has probably got his most complete football team that I’ve seen since I’ve been watching them and I’ve been watching them for a long time.”

Louisville can’t hold a lead

The Cardinals are hoping for a strong finish on Thursday, something that has eluded them recently. In the past two games, Louisville allowed its opponents to rally despite holding the lead in the fourth quarter.

At Connecticut on Oct. 19, the Cards held a 17-7 lead with just 11 minutes to play. They went on to give up two late touchdowns and lost 21-17. The following week against Pittsburgh they were again up 17-7 in the fourth, but allowed Pitt to tie. Louisville ultimately pulled out a 24-17 win in that contest.

"We haven't played particularly well when we've had leads," Kragthorpe told the Louisville Courier Journal. "We have to understand at that point in time, to me, that the game is still 0-0 in terms of the way we play each snap."

Louisville will be particularly conscious of finishing strong against West Virginia because the Mountaineers have outscored their opponents 79-17 in the fourth quarter this season.

"Once the fourth quarter comes, the other team is being a little more aggressive," cornerback Rod Council added. "And I think we need to stay a little more aggressive and just communicate more out there on the field."

Head to head


West Virginia has won and covered in two of the last three games against Louisville. The last two contests between these teams finished over the total.

The Mountaineers have covered in seven of their eight games this season, while the Cardinals are 3-4 against the spread in their last seven contests.

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Re: Thursday Football

BYU visit could turn Frogs into payroll princes
Covers.com

The Texas Christian Horned Frogs want to give the Mountain West Conference something it hasn’t had in a while: parity.

TCU has had an up-and-down season and sits tied for sixth in the conference standings. The Frogs are fresh off their best performance of the season, however, and can claim bowl eligibility with a win on Thursday. A win would also mean the MWC would lack an undefeated conference champ for the first time since 2003.

The Brigham Young Cougars, the only MWC team with an unblemished conference record, host Thursday’s showdown on the Versus network. But this year’s leaders lack the luster of the Mountain West’s recent champions.

Brigham Young and TCU were the conference’s dominant schools last year and in 2005, while the Utah Utes filled that role in 2004. That trio went 23-0 straight-up (SU) in conference play, outscoring opponents by more than three touchdowns per game. They also went an amazing 18-4-1 against the spread (ATS) in MWC action.

In other words, the conference’s last three champions regularly made oddsmakers look as foolish as their opponents.

BYU hasn’t done the same so far in 2007. The Cougars are 2-2 ATS in conference games this season, frustrating bettors with their mix of dominance and sloppiness.

The opening triumph against Air Force was one-sided but BYU’s next win at New Mexico was never too secure. The victory over UNLV was a snoozefest as the Cougars relied on a clock-chewing ground game to make up for their sub-par passing. And BYU’s most recent win over Colorado State featured the Cougars’ second-stringers, allowing the Rams a backdoor cover.

The Cougars have been good, but not good enough to convince me they’ll finish the season with a perfect conference record. That’s why I’ll give TCU a long, long look as a 7-point underdog at Levell-Eccles Stadium.

The Frogs were MWC preseason favorites based on their defensive strength. They delivered on the hype in last week’s 37-0 win over New Mexico, allowing the Lobos only 114 total yards. The Frogs conceded only 227 total yards to a talented Utah team in their previous outing in late October.

The shutout over New Mexico was so dominant that the Frogs are happy to play on short rest this week. They’re even happier about the return of defensive end Tommy Blake to the field.

Blake was the preseason All-American who has missed five games this season due to undisclosed reasons. His physical health is fine, however, and after being on the field for 30 snaps last week against New Mexico, Blake will play an even bigger role in Provo on Thursday.

TCU leads the conference with 18 quarterback sacks in its five Mountain West games and should give BYU quarterback Max Hall fits. Hall is a smart, strong passer, but he’s taken a lot of hits and sometimes holds onto the ball too long. The Horned Frogs are perfect candidates to force Hall into a fumble or two.

The upsets all over the country this season have led many to dismiss everything they believed to be true in the in the preseason. But in the case of the Mountain West, it might be wise to recall that TCU was supposed to win the conference this year.

The Frogs are finally playing up to their preseason standards. Thanks to their struggles earlier in the season, they’re getting a full touchdown from sportsbooks against a conference foe. I believe I’ll take it.

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Re: Thursday Football

BYU's final stretch includes short turnaround for matchup against TCU
November 8, 2007

PROVO, Utah (AP) -After an unscheduled break, Brigham Young's final stretch includes a very short turnaround.

The Cougars (6-2, 4-0) host TCU (5-4, 2-3) Thursday night, trying to extend a five-game winning streak and stay unbeaten in the Mountain West Conference.

BYU is coming off a 35-16 win over Colorado State on Saturday after getting an unexpected break in the schedule. The Cougars' game at San Diego State scheduled for Oct. 27 was postponed until Dec. 1 because of the southern California wildfires.

That extends the Cougars' final stretch by a week, leaving BYU with games against TCU, Wyoming, rival Utah and the Aztecs. Of the remaining opponents, only San Diego State (3-5) has a losing record. The Cougars are within reach of a second straight MWC title, although coach Bronco Mendenhall is trying to keep the team's concentration on the Horned Frogs.

``I think what we can do is focus on the game Thursday night and we'll see who we play after that and where,'' Mendenhall said. ``I've asked our team not to acknowledge any of that and I don't intend to as well.''

BYU's five-game winning streak hasn't been enough to compensate for losses to UCLA and Tulsa in September and get the Cougars back into the Top 25, where TCU coach Gary Patterson feels BYU belongs.

``I voted for them, because I think they're a very good football team,'' Patterson said.

TCU was the preseason pick to win the Mountain West, but the Frogs fell out of contention by losing three of their first four conference games. The Frogs got it together last week with a 37-0 shutout of New Mexico.

The last time TCU visited Provo, it edged the Cougars 51-50 in overtime while on the way to going unbeaten in the school's first MWC season.

``TCU's a good football team,'' BYU quarterback Max Hall said. ``They're going to play us tough. They do every year.''

The 64,000 seats in LaVell Edwards Stadium are expected to be full for the Thursday night game. The Cougars haven't lost at home since 2005, which was also the last time they lost a conference game.

TCU had an extra week to recover from a 27-20 loss to Utah on Oct. 18 and looked well rested with a 17-point second quarter against New Mexico. The Frogs' speedy defense also held the Lobos to 119 yards of offense.

``You always wonder how a break will help you or hurt you and it looked like it helped us against New Mexico,'' Patterson said. ``We now have a quick turnaround with BYU.''

TCU should be a much bigger challenge than Colorado State was for BYU last week. The Cougars took a 28-3 lead and two fourth-quarter touchdowns by the Rams were too late to mean much in the outcome.

The Frogs ran for a season-high 238 yards last week and shut down the second-ranked offense in the MWC. TCU had three sacks and didn't allow New Mexico to top 100 total yards until late in the fourth quarter.

It was the kind of performance that was expected from the Frogs when they were picked ahead of the Cougars to win the conference.

``What I saw was a fresh, energized, fast football team,'' Mendenhall said. ``There weren't any brand new schemes or tactics. It just looked like freshness versus wear and tear.''

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Re: Thursday Football

Louisville at West Virginia
VegasInsider.com

Louisville (5-4, 2-2 Big East) at West Virginia (7-1, 2-1 Big East)
Thursday, November 8
7:30 PM ET on ESPN
Mountaineer Field (FieldTurf)

It was nice to see the Virginia Tech Hokies deliver a convincing win last week over Georgia Tech. After losing a couple straight Thursday night plays, a win was needed to push my record back to a respectable 6-4 (60%) for the year and a blowout win made it even nicer. When the dust finally settled, Virginia Tech left Atlanta with a 27-3 thumping of the Yellow Jackets as two and a half point underdogs.

If it were only that easy every week.

Looking ahead to this week and its amazing to note what a difference a year makes. Last season when West Virginia and Louisville hooked up it was a huge showdown, pitting two teams that were undefeated and in the top 5.

This season? Not exactly.

Actually, to be fair, the Mountaineers are holding up their end of the deal. West Virginia still has an outside shot at a chance for the national title game. Obviously, any hope for that to materialize rests on a W Thursday night against the Cardinals and a big one with a lot of “style points” – read, BLOWOUT win – would certainly help.

Meanwhile, after big expectations to start the year, Louisville has already lost four games and are merely hoping to salvage something out of the season and get to a bowl game for the 10th straight year.

While these two teams have had pretty competitive games over the past couple of years, the Cardinals will need a supreme effort, especially from their defense to stay competitive this go round. Louisville won last year's game 44-34 at home while West Virginia won a wild 46-44 decision in triple overtime two years ago in Morgantown.

By now there is certainly no secret to West Virginia’s success. QB Pat White and RB Steve Slaton are both Heisman worthy players and make up the most dangerous offensive duo in the nation. Their numbers are staggering.

Slaton leads all active Division 1-A players with 51 career touchdowns and nearly 10 points a game. The diminutive back also ranks second among running backs in all-purpose yards (144.0 a game), third in rushing yards (119.3 yards a game) and fourth in yards per carry (6.1).

If those weren’t impressive enough, consider that the man handing off or throwing to him has just as impressive credentials. White has rushed for just under 3,000 yards since the start of the 2005 season, more than any quarterback in the country during that span. He holds both the school and Big East career records for rushing yards by a quarterback.

Together, White and Slaton lead an offensive juggernaut that is scoring 40.8 points a game, the top mark in the Big East and seventh nationally. The Mountaineers are also converting 51.4 percent of their third downs, the fifth-best mark in the country.

While West Virginia eats up the yards on the ground, Louisville is much more of a pass orientated attack. While QB Brian Brohm is wrapping up his collegiate career and getting ready to play at the next level I’m sure he is also hoping to wow the scouts one more time against a West Virginia defense that he threw for 354 yards against last year. Look for the senior to go to receivers Harry Douglas and Mario Urrutia early and often while also mixing running back Anthony Allen into the playbook.

The bad news is the Mountaineers have made great strides this season to shore up their defense. Coach Rich Rodriguez has been playing a lot more Cover 2 defense instead of that funky 3-3-5 stack defense. The new alignments and schemes have already paid off this season as WVU is ranked fourth in the nation in total defense, allowing just 262 yards per game and surrendering just under 15 points per game. That type of effort should certainly help down slow down Brohm and company.

On the season, West Virginia has been a nice source of profit as they stand at 5-2 against the spread. Predictably, Louisville hasn’t been as generous to players as the Cardinals are a lowly 2-6 against the number.

With all the focus on the two offenses going into this one, chances are the team with the better and more consistent defense will come out on top here.

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Re: Thursday Football

Louisville (5-4, 2-6 ATS) at (6) West Virginia (7-1, 6-1-1 ATS)

West Virginia looks to continue its ascent up the BCS standings when it hosts Louisville in a Big East showdown that figures to be a high-scoring affair.

The Mountaineers come into this one riding a three-game winning streak (2-1 ATS), outscoring those three foes – Syracuse, Mississippi State and Rutgers – by a combined score of 124-30. In its most recent game at Rutgers on Oct. 27, West Virginia rolled 31-3 as a 6½-point road chalk

Louisville also has been idle since Oct. 27, when it struggled to beat Pitt 24-17 as a 10-point home favorite. The Cardinals, who like West Virginia began the year with BCS title hopes, have alternated wins and losses in their last six games.

These conference rivals have played two thrilling games the last two seasons, with the home team coming out on top each time. In 2005, West Virginia prevailed 46-44 in triple-overtime as a seven-point home underdog, but Louisville got revenge last year with a 44-34 win as a two-point favorite. Last year’s contest featured 1,008 yards of total offense.

Louisville is 8-2 ATS in its last 10 November contests and 11-4-1 ATS in its last 16 as an underdog, including 8-3 ATS as a road pup.

West Virginia is on ATS runs of 25-11-1 in Big East play, 8-3 following a bye and 4-1 on Thursday nights. On the downside, Rich Rodriguez’s club is just 2-5-1 ATS in its last eight home games.

Both teams feature high-octane offenses piloted by talented quarterbacks. Louisville puts up 37 points and 510.4 yards per game, with drop-back passer Brian Brohm completing 68.2 percent of his throws for 3,229 yards with 26 TDs and seven INTs. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers, who average 41 points and 471 total yards per game, are led by junior QB Pat White, who is connecting on 70 percent of his passes for 1,070 yards with nine TDs and two INTs. The mobile White also has 620 rushing yards (8.2 per carry) and nine rushing TDs.

The biggest difference between these squads is on the defensive side of the ball, where West Virginia gives up just 15 points and 262 (101.1 rushing yards per game) and Louisville yields 27.3 points and 411.3 yards per contest (154 rushing ypg). The Mountaineers have not given up more than 24 points in any game this year, holding six of their last seven foes to 14 points or less. On the flip side, the Cardinals have surrendered 24 points or more five times this year.

West Virginia has outgained all eight of its opponents, including seven by 124 yards or more.

The under is 5-1 in West Virginia’s last six, while the Cardinals have stayed low in five of their last seven, including the last three in a row. However, the over is 11-3 in West Virginia’s last 14 home games, 12-3 in its last 15 November contests and 2-0 in the last two series meetings.

ATS ADVANTAGE: NONE


TCU (5-4, 2-5-1 ATS) at BYU (6-2, 3-4 ATS)

BYU can move a step closer to clinching its second straight Mountain West Conference title when it welcomes league rival TCU to LaVell Edwards Stadium.

The Cougars carry a five-game winning streak into tonight’s game after topping Colorado State 35-16 on Saturday. BYU allowed two four-quarter touchdowns and failed to cash as a 21-point home chalk, dropping to 2-4 ATS in its last six games. The Cougars sit atop the Mountain West standings at 4-0 (2-2 ATS), and they’ve won 12 consecutive league games (8-4 ATS).

TCU is coming off its most dominating effort of the season, a 37-0 whitewash of New Mexico, covering as a four-point home chalk after going 1-5-1 ATS to start the season. The Horned Frogs, who were supposed to provide BYU its toughest challenge in the conference race, are just 2-3 in league play (2-2-1 ATS).

The visitor has taken the last two meetings. In 2005, TCU scored 21 fourth-quarter points and outlasted BYU 51-50 in overtime as a three-point underdog, while the Cougars rolled 31-17 as a seven-point road underdog last year, snapping the Horned Frogs’ 13-game winning streak. BYU is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings.

TCU is on a 6-2-1 ATS run in conference play. However, the Horned Frogs are 0-2 in MWC road games this year (0-1-1 ATS). For the season, TCU is averaging 22.2 points on the road, but giving up 28.5.

The Cougars are 7-1-1 ATS in their last nine home games, the only non-cover coming on Saturday against Colorado State. This year, BYU is 4-0 at home (3-1 ATS), outscoring its opponents by an average of 23 points per game (32-9).

Continuing BYU’s storied quarterback tradition is sophomore Max Hall, who is completing 60 percent of his tosses for 307 yards per game with 17 TDs and nine INTs.

The over is 9-4-1 in TCU’s last 14 November games and 7-2 in BYU’s last nine November contests. Also, the last two battles between these schools have hurdled the total. However, the Cougars are on a 6-2 “under” roll (3-0 “under” at home), while the Frogs are 5-2 “under” in their last seven.

ATS ADVANTAGE: BYU

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Re: Thursday Football

NCAAF Wagering – Louisville (5-4) at West Virginia (7-1)

The Louisville Cardinals, (5-4 SU, 2-6 ATS, 3-5 O/U) are averaging 510.4 yards and 37.0 points per game and allowing 411.3 yards and 27.3 points per game.

The West Virginia Mountaineers, (7-1 SU, 5-3 ATS, 3-5 O/U) are averaging 470.9 yards and 40.8 points per game while allowing just 262.1 yards and 14.9 points per game.

Both teams were idle last week and should be well-rested coming into this contest.

Louisville beat West Virginia 44-34 at home last season, but this pairing usually results in a high-scoring affair as the teams have combined for 168 points in the last two meetings alone.

The Cardinals are no longer ranked after starting the season 10th in the nation while the Mountaineers are sill in the Top 10 after beginning the season ranked third.

Here is a look at tonight’s Key Trends, followed by my Free NCAA Football Betting Picks:

Key Cardinals Trends

The Cardinals are 8-2 ATS in their last ten games in November.

The Cardinals are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games on turf.

The Cardinals are 13-6-1 ATS in their last 20 games after allowing less than 275 total yards in their previous game.

Key Mountaineers Trends

The Mountaineers are 4-1 ATS in their last five Thursday games.

The Mountaineers are 8-3 ATS in their last eleven games following a bye week.

The Mountaineers are 29-11 ATS in their last 40 games after accumulating less than 170 yards passing in their previous game.

Key Totals Trends

The Under is 4-0 in Cardinals last four vs. a team with a winning record.

The Under is 4-0 in Cardinals last four road games.

The Under is 5-0 in Mountaineers last five games following a S.U. win.

The Under is 5-0 in Mountaineers last five games after accumulating more than 200 yards rushing in their previous game.

Key Head-to-Head Trends

There are no trends available.

Analysis: Louisville may nation's biggest disappointments after beginning the year ranked No. 10 and promptly suffering resounding losses to Kentucky and Syracuse. West Virginia’s offense is third in the country in rushing, averaging a whopping 297.9 rushing yards per game. While I like the Mountaineers to win this game, I like the Cardinals to cover the spread barely.

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