Friday Night Football

Friday Night Football

Connecticut Huskies vs. Louisville Cardinals

Oddsmakers currently have the Cardinals listed as 3½-point favorites versus the Huskies, while the game's total is sitting at 51.

Connecticut scored 24 points in the second and third quarters combined and held on for a 31-28 win over Baylor in Week 4.

Connecticut failed to cover the 13-point spread, while the 59 points made it OVER the posted total of 52.

Donald Brown carried the ball 34 times for 150 yards and two touchdowns to lift the Huskies.

Victor Anderson ran for 176 yards and three touchdowns as Louisville defeated Kansas State 38-29 in Week 3, as 5.5-point underdogs. The combined 67 points sailed OVER the posted total of 55.5.

Hunter Cantwell completed 22-of-33 pass attempts for 274 yards and two touchdowns for Louisville.

Current streak:
Connecticut has won 4 straight games.
Louisville has won 2 straight games.

Team records:
Connecticut: 4-0 SU, 1-2 ATS
Louisville: 2-1 SU, 1-1 ATS

Connecticut most recently:
When playing in September are 9-1
When playing on turf are 3-7
After being outgained are 5-5
When playing within the conference are 5-5

Louisville most recently:
When playing in September are 8-2
When playing on turf are 6-4
After outgaining opponent are 6-4
When playing within the conference are 6-4

A few trends to consider:
Connecticut is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Connecticut's last 5 games on the road
Connecticut is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games on the road
Connecticut is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 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:
Connecticut at North Carolina, Saturday, October 4
Louisville at Memphis, Friday, October 10

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Re: Friday Night Football

What bettors need to know: UConn at Louisville

Lucky or good?

Connecticut’s penchant for winning games under seemingly fortuitous circumstances has caused some to question whether the Huskies are really that good or whether sheer luck has played a role.

Last year’s win over Louisville is a case in point. First, the Huskies had the advantage of facing Brian Brohm and the high-powered Louisville offense in a driving rain storm with gusting winds. Then the officials blew a key call, later admitting the mistake publicly, that led to a game-changing punt return for UConn after Louisville had led 17-7 midway through the fourth quarter.

But there is more to this Husky program than mere “luck.” While the team may not have as much top-shelf talent as many or most D-1 programs, they are extremely fundamentally sound, well-coached, and have a penchant for making big plays at the most crucial moments.

In last week’s win over Baylor, the Husky D allowed the Bears to convert 8-of-14 third downs but made key stops with the game on the line. Trailing 28-24 in the fourth quarter, UConn drove down the field and scored when they had to. The defense did the rest, shutting down Baylor for the final six minutes.

Lucky? Maybe at times. But this is a team that knows how to win.

Cardinals Offense Back on Track

Even with new QB Hunter Cantwell having big-time talent, it was perhaps inevitable that the Cardinal offense would take a few games to get in gear as they were breaking in new starters at the skill positions.

If the Kansas State game is any indication, Cantwell and company have worked out the kinks. The Cardinals went for 577 total yards against K-State. Cantwell looked excellent, as did RB Victor Anderson who ran for 176 yards on just 18 carries with TD runs of 56, 29, and 27 yards.

The game was not nearly as close as the 38-29 final score would indicate. Louisville led 35-14 before the Wildcats added two late touchdowns.

Meet the nation’s leading rusher

While Michigan State’s Javon Ringer and Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno are getting all the press, UConn’s Donald Brown is the nation’s leading rusher with 716 yards (179 per game). Brown’s 10 TDs is second only to Ringer’s 11 and one ahead of Moreno’s nine.

Opposing defenses have been fully aware of UConn’s intention to pound the ball with Brown and still no one has been able to stop him as of yet.

Louisville Tough Against the Run

It will be strength against strength with Brown going up against a Louisville run defense that is rated No. 2 in the nation. The Cardinals are allowing just 42 yards per game, an average of 1.88 yards per carry, have given up just one rushing touchdown and just two gains of more than 10 yards - one for 13 and another for 16.

Then again, the statistics could be slightly deceiving in the sense that Kansas State trailed for much of the game and attempted only 12 rushes.

The matchup with Brown will give a better indication as to whether the Cardinal rush defense is for real.

Tebow Lite?

While UConn QB Tyler Lorenzen has yet to hit his stride as a passer as of yet (six interceptions, limited success with the vertical passing game), his good size (6-foot-5, 222 pounds) and running ability prompted Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe to draw a comparison with Florida’s Tim Tebow.

OK, so Lorenzen is no Tebow. But he is becoming a legitimate weapon as a runner if not as a passer. Lorenzon has rushed for 75 and 73 yards in the past two games and is actually the seventh leading rusher in the Big East. In fact, Lorenzen’s 55.5 per game average exceeds Tebow’s 2008 average of 39.3.

Conspicuous Holes

Despite the breakout game for the Louisville offense against K-State and the ongoing excellence of the rush defense, a few glaring holes were evident against K-State as well.

First of all, the pass defense had some serious lapses, allowing opposing receivers to run wide open through the secondary. The Cardinals were lucky that the Wildcat offense was not able to fully capitalize on the opportunities they were given.

Even worse was the performance of the special teams, which allowed a punt return for a TD, a fake for a first down, posted a net gain of 16.4 yards per punt, and missed an extra point and 31-yard field goal. The team hopes the latter problem will be corrected will the replacement of kickers Chris Philpott by Tim Daugherty.

UConn has had their own struggles with special teams, particularly kickoff coverage, allowing Baylor an average 30 yards per return.

Turnover Prone

Last season’s UConn squad made a living on turnovers, forcing mistakes by opponents and taking care of the ball themselves.

It hasn’t quite worked that way thus far in 2008. While the defense has been making the plays needed to win games, they have not been forcing mistakes at the same rate. Meanwhile, the offense has turned the ball over nine times, including six picks by Lorenzen, which matches his total for all of last season. The team also managed the unusual feat of turning it over five times in a 35-3 win over Hofstra.

They will have much less margin for error on Friday night.

Line Moves

The line opened at three, moved briefly down to 2 1/2 and has fluctuated between 3 and 3 1/2 ever since.

The over/under was posted at 50 and has remained steady at that number.

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Re: Friday Night Football

UConn at Louisville
By Brian Edwards

After hosting last week’s edition of “Friday Night Lights,” Connecticut (4-0 straight up, 1-2 against the spread) returns to the spotlight again this week. This time, however, the Huskies hit the road to face Louisville.

UConn stayed undefeated by holding off Baylor 31-28 last Friday, but Randy Edsall’s squad failed to cover the spread as a 13-point favorite. We backed the ‘over’ (52) for another Friday night winner, improving our season mark to 3-0-1.

UConn running back Donald Brown ran for 150 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead his team past the Bears. QB Tyler Lorenzen threw a pair of costly interceptions, but he made amends by rushing for two TDs, including a 34-yard QB draw that gave the Huskies a 24-21 lead.

The game had six lead changes, the last of which came on Brown’s three-yard scamper to paydirt with more than six minutes left in the fourth quarter. Brown is the nation’s leading rusher with 716 yards. He has 10 rushing TDs and a 6.3 yards per carry average.

It’s a good thing that Brown has been so effective because UConn’s aerial attack has been extremely shaky. Lorenzen had a solid, interception-free game in a 45-10 home win over Virginia on Sep. 13. However, the senior signal caller has an abysmal 1/6 touchdown-interception ratio for the season.

Louisville (2-1 SU, 1-1 ATS) started the year with a sobering 27-2 home loss to Kentucky as a four-point ‘chalk.’ Since then, Steve Kragthorpe’s team has responded with back-to-back victories. The Cardinals stroked Tennessee Tech 51-10 in a non-lined affair before beating Kansas State 38-29 last Wednesday.

They easily took the cash as six-point home underdogs, while the 67 combined points jumped ‘over’ the 56-point total.

Hunter Cantwell threw for 274 yards and two TDs to pace the Cardinals, who had 577 yards of total offense against the Wildcats. Doug Beaumont was Cantwell’s favorite target, hauling in nine receptions for 119 yards.

Freshman RB Victor Anderson erupted for 176 rushing yards and three TDs on 18 carries. Also, senior RB Brock Bolen had a workmanlike 104-yard performance on 23 rushes.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened Louisville as a 2 ½-point favorite with a total of 53. As of early this morning, most spots had the Cardinals adjusted to 3 ½-point ‘chalk,’ while the total had moved to 50. The Huskies are plus 145 on the money line (risk $100 to win $145).

Louisville will be looking to avenge a controversial 21-17 loss at UConn last season. The Cards had a 17-7 lead in the fourth quarter when UConn’s Larry Taylor returned a punt 74 yards for a TD.

But here’s the thing: Taylor had signaled for a fair catch, prompting Louisville’s punt team to pull up and initially not try to tackle Taylor. Kragthorpe called timeout before the PAT, but the officials ruled that fair catches weren’t reviewable.

After U of L failed to convert a fourth-and-three play at UConn’s 29 with 5:50 left, the Huskies produced a game-winning 71-yard drive. Andre Dixon capped the march with a five-yard TD run with 1:32 remaining.

UConn struggled in its first road game on Sep. 6, winning 12-9 at Temple in overtime. The Huskies failed to cover the number as 6 ½-point favorites. They are 4-11 ATS as road underdogs since 2004.

Louisville is an atrocious 1-5 ATS as a home favorite under Kragthorpe. For what it’s worth, though, the Cards went 15-2 ATS as home ‘chalk’ from 2004-2006 under Bobby Petrino.

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

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--Duke hasn’t been favored in an ACC game since the 2002 regular-season finale against North Carolina. The Tar Heels won that game 23-21 as three-point road underdogs. The Blue Devils are seven-point home favorites Saturday against Virginia.

--If you discount Ron Zook’s first year at Illinois (2005) when he inherited a terrible team, his squads (at UF 2002-2004 and at Illinois 2006-2007) own an 8-2 spread record as a double-digit underdog.

--Although Phillip Fulmer is on the hot seat at Tennessee, we should note that he has the highest winning percentage (76%) of all active coaches.

--South Carolina RB Mike Davis will serve a one-game suspension Saturday against UAB. WR Kenny McKinley is "doubtful" for the Gamecocks.

--If you missed Oregon State's shocking win over USC last night, you probably haven't met Jacquizz Rodgers yet.

--According to multiple reports, Raiders coach Lane Kiffin could be a prime candidate to take over for Greg Robinson at Syracuse. Both are likely to be out of jobs in the not-too-distant future.

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