Wednesday Night Football

Wednesday Night Football

Weekly Matchups
By Keith Fredrick

Three games dot the college football landscape during the week this time around, and after looking up and down the board at those three contests, I cannot see a good reason to place a bet on any of the three. So, I will be passing on the early games this week and focusing only on Saturday's action, but in the meantime I did want to give you some important things to look at in regards to the six teams playing this Wednesday through Friday. Even without a bet on a game, important things can still be learned, and these are the things I am looking for in each particular game.

Kansas State at Louisville - As I mentioned at the VegasInsider.com seminar here in Las Vegas, KSU Coach Ron Price wants to win and win now, as he has taken a page out of former Wildcat coach Bill Snyder's playbook and gone the JUCO route in his recruiting. In fact, junior college players make up no less than 18 of the top 20 KSU recruits this season, an unheard of figure for a BCS conference team. That shows me that Price is looking for big things THIS year, not worrying as much about building for the future. So far KSU has feasted on a couple of patsies, but now Louisville does represent a step up.

The question is just how big of a step up? Remember that the Cardinals were held to TWO points against Kentucky in the first week of the season before getting healthy in their last game, albeit against a 1-AA (FCS) foe. Steve Kragthorpe is a good coach, but after a 6-6 season a year ago and only one game (vs. Syracuse) left on this year's schedule that can be considered a "sure" win, one wonders if Bobby Petrino knew what he was doing when he left Louisville.
   
These two teams met two years ago and L’ville won 24-6 in Manhattan, and current starter (then backup) Hunter Cantwell was at the controls. That was the lowest output of the season for the Cardinals that year. How many points the Cards score here will be a very important indicator for both teams. If the Cats are able to calm the Redbirds that will show that the JUCO infusion really worked, and that the season ending 167 points allowed in three games last year has been fixed. That will also show that the U of L offense will more resemble the two point production of Week One than the huge outbursts of the next week. On the other hand, if the L’ville offense explodes, KSU is in trouble when conference season rolls around, while U of L might have some hope of sneaking into a bowl. With so much up in the air this will not be a game I bet on, but I will learn something.

As for Thursday's game, this will test the mettle of the Bill Stewart regime at West Virginia. They have had two weeks to get their kids ready and refocused after the (well deserved, -8 FD's, -137 yards) loss to East Carolina in Week Two. This is a CU team that, at full mental state, they should beat, as the Mounties have the better football players on their team and have more overall speed than the Buffs. Looking at CU, they were not at all dominant against a bad Colorado State team in the opener, and needed some fourth quarter magic to hold off FCS foe Eastern Washington in the second game. Dan Hawkins is only 2-4 ATS as a home dog for CU as well. Right now I have both of these teams in the "Minus/Go Against" column on my big board, so no play, but if CU shows any signs of life I am going to be on them pretty strong against Florida State the next week.

Finally, the Friday game pits Baylor at Connecticut. I keep waiting for the right time to go against this fraud of a UConn team, and I did have a small play on Temple (+) against the Huskies in Week Two. However, this is not the spot, as this is Baylor's first road game for coach Briles, and in his last stint at Houston his teams were 1-6 ATS as away dogs the first two seasons, and that was with a true frosh (Kevin Kolb) starting at QB, the same situation the Bears are in now with Robert Griffin. No play on this one for me, but I hope UConn destroys the Bears, as it sets up better line value going against them in the future. This team WILL be exposed, it is just a matter of when, and I will be waiting!

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Re: Wednesday Night Football

Kansas State Wildcats vs. Louisville Cardinals

Oddsmakers currently have the Wildcats listed as 4-point favorites versus the Cardinals, while the game's total is sitting at 56½.

Current streak:
Kansas State has won 2 straight games.

Team records:
Kansas State: 2-0 SU, 1-0 ATS
Louisville: 1-1 SU, 0-1 ATS

Kansas State most recently:
When playing in September are 7-3
When playing on turf are 6-4
After outgaining opponent are 6-4
When playing outside the conference are 6-4

Louisville most recently:
When playing in September are 7-3
When playing on turf are 6-4
After outgaining opponent are 6-4
When playing outside the conference are 7-3

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone OVER in 17 of Kansas State's last 21 games on the road
Kansas State is 2-4 SU in its last 6 games
Kansas State is 6-15 ATS in its last 21 games on the road
Kansas State is 1-7 SU in its last 8 games on the road
Louisville is 22-3 SU in its last 25 games at home
Louisville is 17-8 SU in its last 25 games

Next up:
Kansas State home to Louisiana-Lafayette, Saturday, September 27
Louisville home to Connecticut, Friday, September 26

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Kansas State (2-0, 1-0 ATS) at Louisville (1-1, 0-1 ATS)

High-flying Kansas State treks to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville to take on the Cardinals in a non-conference showdown.

The Wildcats haven’t been challenged in the first two weeks of the season, dominating North Texas and Montana State by a combined score 114-16. Kansas State’s fast start to 2008 is in sharp contrast to its freefall at the end of last season, when the team dropped its final four games (0-4 ATS) by an average of 21½ points per contest. But the improvement in QB Josh Freeman has ignited the offense, as the junior has accounted for nine touchdowns (five passing, four rushing) and has completed 76 percent of his throws for 520 yards with no interceptions.

Louisville opened the season with a disappointing 27-2 home loss to instate rival Kentucky, falling as a 3½-point favorite, but rebounded to crush Tennessee Tech 51-10 on Sept. 6 in a non-lined contest. The Cardinals’ defense, which was 84th in the nation last season, is fourth so far this year allowing just 193 yards per game. However, new QB Hunter Cantwell has struggled to this point, completing just 53 percent of this throws for 355 yards, two TDs and three INTs.

Cantwell did lead Louisville to a 24-6 win at Kansas State back in 2006 when he started in place of an injured Brian Brohm. He completed 18-of-26 passes for 173 yards with a TD and an INT, as Louisville covered as a 14-point road chalk.

Kansas State has been tough early in the season in recent years, going 24-11 ATS in its last 35 September contests. The Wildcats are also 4-1 ATS in their last five after a bye week. Otherwise the ATS numbers all negative for K-State, including 5-12 on the road, 5-13 in non-conference games and 1-4 overall.

The Cardinals are 5-2 ATS following their last seven bye weeks, but they are on pointspread slides of 1-5 at home, 1-4 in non-conference play and 1-4 following a straight-up win.

For K-State, the over is on streaks of 12-4 overall in lined action, 22-8 on the road, 9-3 on grass and 5-2 following a straight-up win. Meanwhile, Louisville has topped the total in four straight games following a bye week and seven of 10 after a SU win.

ATS ADVANTAGE: OVER

Gametimepicks.com

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What bettors need to know: Kansas State vs. Louisville
By CHRIS MARAKOVITZ

On the Road Again

Kansas State third-year coach Ron Price is 10-4 at home, 2-8 on the road.

However, Price’s Wildcats did upset then- No. 7 ranked Texas in Austin as a 14 ½-point dog last season.

Line Moves

Covers.com reports that the line opened with K-State as a 4-point road favorite, but that line was bet down to -3 1/2 quickly and then settled back at -4.

The over/under opened at 57 1/2 and has been bet down to 56.

Young Guns

With only nine returning starters, Louisville is one of the more inexperienced teams in the country.

QB Hunter Cantwell becomes the starter after performing well in a backup role for Brian Brohm over the last two seasons. Despite being a first-year starter, Cantwell is strong-armed with good size and is considered a legit NFL prospect.

With new starters at every other skill position though, the Cardinals offense struggled mightily in the season-opening 27-2 loss to Kentucky.

JUCO Infusion

Although Bill Snyder has been gone for three years, current K-State coach Price has continued Snyder’s tradition of recruiting heavily from the JUCO ranks. This year the team welcomes 16 JUCO transfers.

Another Snyder tradition that Price has kept intact is the practice of scheduling non-conference cupcakes to start the season.

Price has used the season-opening blowouts of North Texas (45-6) and Montana State (69-10) to evaluate the new talent he has on the roster.

Getting Defensive in Louisville

While the Cardinals offense looked awful against Kentucky, the defense actually held up well against SEC competition.

Although Kentucky put 27 points on the board, the Cats scored twice on fumble returns and set up a third score with an interception.

Injury Report

Louisville saw its only two returning starters on the offensive line miss the second half of their Week 2 51-10 win over Tennessee Tech.

The status of first team Big East center Eric Wood, an All-American candidate, as well as LT George Bussey, remains unknown at this time.

It would be a significant blow to the team’s offense if one or both misses the Kansas State game.

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Kansas St. at Louisville
By Brian Edwards

Kansas State (2-0 straight up, 1-0 against the spread) will look to remain unbeaten when it takes on Louisville tonight at Papa John's Stadium. Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened the Wildcats as 2 1/2-point road favorites.

However, as of late this morning, most books had adjusted Ron Prince's team to a four-point 'chalk' with the total in the 56-57 range. Louisville (1-1 SU, 0-1 ATS) is plus 160 on the money line (risk $100 to win $160).

The Cardinals are hoping to turn around what has been a disastrous 14-game stretch under second-year head coach Steve Kragthorpe, who left Tulsa to replace Bobby Petrino before the 2007 campaign. Since then, Louisville is 7-7 after going 41-9 during Petrino's four years at the helm.

Likewise, Kansas St. is hoping for a break-out season in Ron Prince's third year. The Wildcats are just 14-13 under Prince, and there have been whispers that Prince could be on the hot seat.

Kansas St. opened the season with a 45-6 home win over North Texas as a 29-point 'chalk.' Junior quarterback Josh Freeman threw for 232 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Also, he ran for a one-yard touchdown.

Next, the Wildcats stroked Montanta St. 69-10 in a non-lined affair. Freeman ran for a pair of scores and also threw two TD passes. He completed 16-of-21 throws for 288 yards and again, no interceptions.

Freeman can do it all. He scrambles for positive yardage when pressured, turning bad plays into good ones. He's accurate with his arm, as evidenced by a 75.6 completion percentage and his 5/0 touchdown-interception ratio.

Granted, this year's production has come against ho-hum competition, but bettors will see tonight that Freeman is the 'real deal' who gives his team a chance every time he steps on the field.

With All-American WR Jordy Nelson gone to the NFL, Freeman has found a new favorite target in junior-college transfer Brandon Banks. The juco arrival has nine receptions for 183 yards and three TDs, averaging 20.3 yards per catch.

Louisville's season couldn't have started any worse. The Cardinals lost to their in-state rival Kentucky for the second straight year. Not only that, but UK came to town and spanked U of L by a 27-2 count as a three-point road underdog.

In Week 2, the Cardinals got well in a 51-10 home win over Tennessee Tech. Senior QB Hunter Cantwell bounced back from a miserable performance against Kentucky to connect on 15-of-23 passes for 203 yards, two TDs and zero interceptions. Victor Anderson ran for 114 yards and one TD on just 12 carries.

Cantwell has had to deal with a plethora of issues at the wide receiver position. JaJuan Spillman was dismissed from the program in the off-season, while Scott Long was injured with a broken foot. Long is almost ready to return, but he's listed as "doubtful" tonight. Trent Guy was shot over the summer and did not play against UK, but he returned and had three catches for 35 yards against Montana St.

This is the first home underdog spot for the Cardinals since hosting Florida St. on a Thursday night in 2002. They beat the Seminoles in overtime, 26-20, as 15-point home 'dogs.

Kansas St. has been horrible as a road favorite recently. In fact, the Wildcats are an atrocious 0-7 ATS in their last seven games as road favorites dating back to 2004.

ESPN2 will provide television coverage at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

VegasInsider.com 

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Tips and Trends

Kansas State at Louisville [ESPN2 | 8 PM ET]

Kansas State (-4, O/U 56): The Wildcats have fattened up on two cream puffs in preparation for their first true test against Louisville. Kansas State has beaten Montana State and North Texas by a combined score of 114-16. We'll see tonight if beating up on lightweights has restored the Wildcats confidence after they dropped four straight to end last season. Junior quarterback Josh Freeman has been brilliant so far, recording a pass efficiency rating of 209.3 which is tops in the Big 12. Kansas State's defense has been opportunistic in its first two games and they hope that continues when they step up in class tonight against Louisville.

Kansas State is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games following a bye week.
Kansas State is 5-12 ATS in its last 17 road games.

Key Injuries - RT Ben Liu (knee) is probable.
LB John Houlik (suspension) is OUT.

PROJECTED SCORE: 31 (OVER - Total Play of the Day)

Louisville: After getting hammered by in-state rival Kentucky, the Cardinals bounced back to dispose of Division 1-AA Tennessee Tech. It's hard to know which Louisville team will show up tonight. The one that turned the ball over five times against Kentucky or the one that scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams in the blowout win over Tennessee Tech. Quarterback Hunter Cantwell played well against a weaker foe after struggling against the Wildcats. Meanwhile, the new-look Cardinals defense under Ron English has been much more aggressive and technically sound than it was a year ago.

Louisville is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 non-conference games.
Louisville is 1-5 ATS in its last 6 home games.

Key Injuries - WR Scott Long (foot) is OUT.

PROJECTED SCORE: 30

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