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Friday Night Football

Friday Night Football

What bettors need to know: Baylor at Connecticut

Matchup: Baylor Bears (2-1 SU, 1-1 ATS) at Connecticut Huskies (3-0 SU, 2-0 ATS)

Line moves

The Huskies opened as two-touchdown home favorites with most books but have since been beat down to -12. Friday’s total opened at 50 and has bumped up to 51 ½.

Will dogs’ D’ have their day?

UConn can thank its stingy defense for a 3-0 start. The Huskies have allowed just one touchdown this year and are currently ranked 13th in the nation after giving up just 229 total yards. They have eight returning defensive starters from last year’s Big East title team.

Their run defense has stood out, but now come up against a legit run-first offense with a mobile quarterback that can break off big gains. Baylor pivot Robert Griffin rushed for 217 yards and two touchdowns in a 45-17 win over Washington State last Friday.

The freshman added 129 yards and a TD through the air and was named Big 12 offensive player of the week.

“They’ll make you stay patient with their Cover 2 safeties playing 30 yards off the ball,” Griffin told reporters this week. “Other than that, a defense is a defense, and with our type of offense we can hit a big play out of anything.”

The Bears are 29th in total offense and average 36.3 points per game. They’ve played over the total in the two games in which odds were available.

Wave bye-bye to Waco

Baylor makes its road debut Friday after opening the first three games of the schedule at home. Life away from Waco hasn’t been kind to the Bears, going 2-9 SU and 4-7 ATS in the past two seasons.

“If you’re going to be a good football team, you have to be a tough road team,” coach Art Briles told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “You band together as a team, you rely on each other, you support each other and you fight hard for each other.”

Briles is anxious to see how his team will perform away from home. He sees Friday’s trip to the Big East as good preparation for the hostile environments they’ll face in the Big 12. He’s even tried to acclimatize his players by pumping crowd noise into practice and working them off a silent count.

Wins are hard to come by in Hartford. UConn was a perfect 7-0 SU at home last season and cashed in five out of six games in which odds were available. The Huskies beat Virginia 45-10 as 10 ½-point home faves last weekend.

What can Brown do for you?

UConn running back Donald Brown II will be the focus of Baylor’s defense after he posted his second straight 200-plus yard game. Brown rumbled for 206 yards and three touchdowns and also caught five balls for 32 yards against Virginia last Saturday.

The performance garnered a Big East offensive player of the week award for Brown, who has eight touchdowns and 610 total yards of offense in three games. There has even been some Heisman buzz around the redshirt junior.

“I’m not trying to do too much. I’m just taking what’s given and trying to make the most of every opportunity,” Brown told the Connecticut Post. “When you have the offensive line that I have and the fullback that I have and the receivers that all block downfield, they make it easy.”

The Huskies will be doing plenty of blocking against the Bears. UConn’s offensive has appeared a bit one dimensional with quarterback Tyler Lorenzen at the helm. While he was more comfortable in the pocket against the Cavaliers, Lorenzen still depended on his legs. He rushed for 52 yards while passing for 124 and one touchdown last weekend.

Baylor could load up on the line and plug the holes forcing Lorenzen’s arm to beat them. The Bears defense has allowed 302 yards of total offense and has limited opposing rushing attacks to an average of 95 yards per game.

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Re: Friday Night Football

Baylor at UConn
By Brian Edwards

We stayed unbeaten on Fridays after last week's thriller in Tampa, but we aren't looking for pushes around here. By backing South Florida minus three in its 37-34 win over Kansas, that's exactly what we got. Even worse, I'm sure some pick-pack purchasers ended up losing as the USF line ballooned to 3 1/2 or four at some books, so those folks have my apologies.

At intermission when the Jayhawks had a 20-10 lead, a push seemed like a generous gift. But when USF raced out to a 34-20 advantage early in the fourth quarter, that thought process went out the window. However, USF backers couldn't go to the ticket window yet, certainly not with Kansas QB Todd Reesing still on the field.

Reesing, who belongs in the conversation of who the best QB in the Big 12 is, rallied his team back into a tie with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes. In the end, though, USF got the victory thanks to a Maikon Bonani 43-yard field goal as time expired.

Moving on to this week's edition of Friday Night Lights, we don't have the same sort of matchup in terms of quality teams. Nevertheless, bettors can do their thing with a side and total for Baylor at UConn.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened Connecticut (3-0 straight up, 1-1 against the spread) as a 16-point favorite with a total of 51. As of Thursday morning, most spots were listing the Huskies as 13-point home 'chalk.' The Bears are plus 350 on the money line (risk $100 to win $350).

Baylor (2-1 straight up, 1-1 against the spread) is in transition this year with Art Briles leaving Houston to take over for Guy Morriss. The Bears started the season in disappointing fashion, losing 41-13 to Wake Forest as 12-point home underdogs.

Since then, however, they have won back-to-back contests. Baylor stroked Northwestern St. by a 51-6 count in a non-lined affair. Then last Friday in a game moved up a day due to Hurricane Ike, the Bears thumped Washington St. 45-17 as six-point home favorites.

True freshman quarterback Robert Griffin was the catalyst. Much like Briles turned to Kevin Kolb during his freshman year at Houston, Griffin, a four-star recruit from Copperas Cove, TX., has been handed the keys to Baylor's present and future.

Both looked bright last Friday in Griffin's second start, as he ran for a school-record 217 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries. Griffin also threw for 129 yards with one TD and no interceptions. The Bears finished with 555 yards of total offense, scoring 40 points or more in consecutive games for the first time since 1994.

For the season, Griffin has completed 62.3 percent of his passes for 548 yards with a 4/0 touchdown-interception ratio. Even better, Griffin has 32 rush attempts for 288 yards and four TDs. He is averaging 9.0 yards per carry. Sophomore RB Jay Finley is also making his presence felt, gaining 232 yards on 28 carries. Finley has rushed for three TDs, averaging 8.3 YPC.

Connecticut (3-0 SU, 1-1 ATS) is off a dominant 45-10 win over Viriginia as an 11-point home favorite. Donald Brown paced the Huskies with 206 rushing yards and three TDs, while Tyler Lorenzen completed 13-of-15 passes for 129 yards with one TD and zero interceptions. They jumped on the Wahoos early and often, racing out to a 28-0 lead at halftime.

Brown, a junior RB who had eight rushing TDs in 2007, is second in the nation in both rushing yards (566) and TDs (eight) this year. Meanwhile, Lorenzen wasn't nearly as efficient before the win over UVA. He failed to throw a TD and had four interceptions in UConn's first two games, a 35-3 home win over Hofstra and a 12-9 triumph at Temple.

The Huskies needed overtime to beat the Owls. After Temple kicked a field goal with its OT possession, Brown answered with a game-winning seven-yard scampber to paydirt. However, UConn failed to take the cash as a 6 1/2-point road favorite.

Since 2003, Randy Edsall's squad has been dynamite as a double-digit favorite, posting a 9-4 spread record. Since 2002, the Huskies are 14-7-1 ATS as home favorites.

On the flip side, Baylor is 3-11 ATS as a double-digit underdog since 2006.

ESPN2 will provide the telecast at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

Flash: http://**B.E.'s Bonus Nuggets**

--UConn junior RB Andre Dixon, a second-team All Big East selection last season, has only been in for three plays this year due to an ankle sprain. His status for Friday is "questionable."

--One of my favorite handicapping strategies is betting against a team that has a QB making his first career road start. That's the situation gamblers face with Baylor-UConn, but you get the sense that nothing can rattle Griffin. He told, "It's kind of like when people asked me about my first college start, it's not a big deal. I've just got to go out there and execute. It's just another football game."

--Auburn owns a 4-3 spread record as a home underdog during Tommy Tuberville's 10-year tenure. They beat Florida 27-17 as two-point home 'dogs in 2006.

--Back to LSU-Auburn, that's another chance for gamblers to fade a QB (LSU's Andrew Hatch) making his first career road start.

--Since 2004, Tennessee has been a home underdog only four times. The Vols have taken the cash in each of those four games.

--Ole Miss DE Greg Hardy, who led the SEC in sacks in 2007, will make his season debut Saturday at home against Vandy. Hardy broke his foot at practice in early August.

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Re: Friday Night Football

Baylor (2-1, 1-1 ATS) at Connecticut (3-0, 1-1 ATS)

Baylor looks to build off a blowout home win over Washington State when it travels to the Northeast to battle unbeaten Connecticut in a nationally televised non-conference affair.

With Hurricane Ike bearing down on Texas, Baylor was forced to move last week’s home game against Washington State from Saturday to Friday, but the home team was hardly affected, rolling to a 45-17 win as a three-point chalk. The Bears rushed for a staggering 426 yards, while the defense held the Cougars to just 77 yards on the ground and forced five turnovers. For the season, Baylor is averaging 36.3 points, 242.3 rushing yards and 205 passing yards per contest.

The Huskies are also coming off an impressive rushing performance, outgaining Virginia 382-31 on the ground en route to Saturday’s 45-10 rout, easily cashing as a 10½-point home favorite. Through three games, UConn is averaging 30.7 points and 445 yards per game (297.7 rushing ypg), while holding the opposition to 7.3 points and 229 total ypg (66.3 rushing ypg).

Baylor has followed a nine-game losing skid with consecutive victories, including a 51-6 rout of Division I-AA Northwestern State 51-6 two weeks ago. Despite last week’s easy spread-cover against Washington State, though, the Bears are just 5-14 ATS in their last 19 contests overall, 2-7 ATS in their last nine on the road, 3-14 ATS in their last 17 against winning teams and 9-24 ATS in their last 33 following a spread-cover.

Additionally, Baylor has lost six straight road games to BCS conference schools (2-4 ATS), and new coach Art Briles’ team is 1-6 (2-5 ATS) in its last seven road openers.

UConn carries a nine-game home winning streak into this contest, going 6-0 ATS in the last six. Additionally, the Huskies are on pointspread tears of 14-7 as a home favorite, 18-7-1 as a favorite regardless of venue since 2003 and 28-12-1 in non-conference action. On the downside, UConn has failed to cover in four straight games against winning teams.

For Baylor, the over is on streaks of 4-0 in non-conference games (2-0 this year) and 8-2 on the road. On the flip side, UConn sports under streaks of 7-3 overall, 13-5 in non-conference play, 5-2 on grass and 6-2 against winning squads.


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Re: Friday Night Football

Baylor Bears vs. Connecticut Huskies

Oddsmakers currently have the Huskies listed as 12-point favorites versus the Bears, while the game's total is sitting at 51.

Robert Griffin ran for 220 yards with two touchdowns in leading Baylor to a 45-17 win over Washington State in Week 3, as 5-point favorites. The 62 points sailed OVER the posted total of 50.

Griffin completed 7-of-15 pass attempts for 130 yards and a TD in that win for the Bears.

Connecticut built up a 28 point lead at the half in Week 3, as they ran to a 45-10 win over Virginia. Connecticut covered the 10.5-point spread, and the combined 55 points sailed OVER the posted total of 38.

Donald Brown carried the ball 20 times for 208 yards with three touchdowns.

Current streak:
Baylor has won 2 straight games.
Connecticut has won 3 straight games.

Team records:
Baylor: 2-1 SU, 1-1 ATS
Connecticut: 3-0 SU, 1-1 ATS

Baylor most recently:
When playing in September are 6-4
When playing on grass are 3-7
After outgaining opponent are 5-5
When playing outside the conference are 6-4

Connecticut most recently:
When playing in September are 8-2
When playing on grass are 8-2
After outgaining opponent are 6-4
When playing outside the conference are 8-2

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Baylor's last 5 games on the road
Baylor is 2-7 ATS in its last 9 games on the road
Baylor is 2-9 SU in its last 11 games
Baylor is 1-8 SU in its last 9 games on the road
Connecticut is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games at home
Connecticut is 12-4 SU in its last 16 games

Next up:
Baylor home to Oklahoma, Saturday, October 4
Connecticut at Louisville, Friday, September 26

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