Big East Betting Preview: Louisville Cardinals at West Virginia Mountaineers

Louisville Cardinals at #25 West Virginia Mountaineers
Mountaineer Field – Morgantown, West Virginia
Saturday, November 5, 2011, 12:00 pm Eastern, TV: SNY, MASN, ESPN Game Plan, Big East Network
Opening Line: West Virginia -12
Current Line: West Virginia -13
Opening Total: 50
Current Total: 51 1/2
Opening Money Line: West Virginia -500 / Louisville +400
Current Money Line: West Virginia -500 / Louisville +400

West Virginia and Louisville meet in Morgantown ina key Big East battle. Both teams are a half game behind Cincinnati for first place in the conference.

Last week Louisville won at home against Syracuse 27-10. That was significant because it was the first time all season Louisville played a game decided by more than 12 points. All of the Cardinals’ games have had 41 total points or less this season. The 4-4 (2-1 in the Big East) Cardinals, coached by Charlie Strong travel to Morgantown this week to take on the 6-2 (also 2-1 in conference) West Virginia Mountaineers,  coached by Dana Holgorsen. Both teams are a half game behind Cincinnati for the conference lead. Louisville also has home wins over Murray St 21-9, and Rutgers 16-14, along with a road win at Kentucky 24-17. The Cardinals have home losses to Florida International 24-17 and Marshall 17-13, and road losses at North Carolina 14-7 and Cincinnati 25-16. With 4 losses by a total of 27 points, Louisville could easily be undefeated or have one loss. West Virginia has a home loss to #1 LSU 47-21 and at Syracuse 49-23. The Mountaineers have home wins over Marshall 34-13, Norfolk St 55-12, Bowling Green 55-10, and UConn 43-16, along with road wins at Maryland 37-31 and last week at Rutgers 41-31. Unlike Louisville West Virginia hasn’t played many close games. West Virginia leads the series 10-2 against Louisville, and the Mountaineers have won 4 straight including 17-10 last year in Louisville.

Louisville was a 3 point favorite last week on the college football betting line at home against Syracuse. Louisville jumped out to a 14-3 lead at halftime and easily won 27-10. Louisville had 343 total yards and 15 first downs in the win. Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw for 198 yards with two touchdown passes and no picks. Running back Victor Anderson had 11 carries, 93 yards, and a touchdown, plus 3 catches for 20 yards. Receiver Michaelee Harris had 4 catches for 96 yards. DeVante Parker and Josh Chichester each caught a touchdown pass. Syracuse had 246 total yards, including 84 rushing yards and 14 first downs. Louisville had the only turnover in the game.

Louisville is averaging 329.6 yards and 17.6 points a game. The Cardinals are averaging 206.2 yards passing a game. Louisville is rushing for 123.4 yards a game.  The problem has been penalties and turnovers for the Cardinals. They have turned the ball over 12 times and are averaging 8.5 penalties a game. The Cardinals have also allowed 25 quarterback sacks  this season, another problem area as it leads to a lot of 3rd and longs. Louisville is 48/123 on third and fourth down conversions  this season, and 12/17 scoring in the red zone with 8 touchdowns. Louisville is allowing 295.6 total yards and 16.2 points a game. The Cardinals are allowing 97.4 rushing yards and 198.2 passing yards a game. Louisville has forced 23 sacks and 9 turnovers this season. Cardinal opponents are 52/131 on third and fourth down conversions, and 16/20 scoring in the red zone with 10 touchdowns. Louisville has just one defensive touchdown this season.

Louisville quarterback Will Stein is 51/83 passing with 621 yards, 5 touchdowns and an interception along with 23 carries for 4 yards. Stein has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury, but could return this week. He is not listed on the injury report.  If Stein can’t go, Teddy Bridgewater will be the starter. Bridgewater is 95/150 passing for 1,029 yards, 7 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, along with 48 carries for 39 yards and a touchdown. Bridgewater is more mobile than Stein and can escape more sacks behind the leaky offensive line. Running back Jeremy Wright has 63 carries for 303 yards, and 5 catches for 23 yards. Victor Anderson has 54 carries for 282 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 15 catches for 112 yards and a touchdown.  Dominique Brown has 80 carries for 282 yards and a touchdown, along with 6 catches for 41 yards and a touchdown catch.  Harris has 26 catches, 356 yards and 2 touchdowns. Chichester has 21 catches for 282 yards and one touchdown. Parker has 11 catches, 185 yards and 4 touchdowns. Josh Bellamy has 15 catches for 138 yards and a touchdown.  Kicker Chris Philpott is 15/17 on extra points and is 8/12 on field goals with a long of 52 yards. Cornerback Darius Ashley is suspended indefinitely, and another corner Anthony Conner is out for the season with a neck injury.

Last week, West Virginia traveled to New Jersey to take on Rutgers. Rutgers was up 31-21 at halftime, but the Mountaineers scored 21 unanswered points in the second to win 41-31 and cover the 6 point spread. The Mountaineers had 428 total yards including 210 rushing yards. West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith threw for 218 yards and 2 touchdowns, and also added a rushing touchdown. Running back Shawne Alston had 14 carries, 110 yards and 2 touchdowns. Receiver Tavon Austin had 8 catches, 67 yards, and a touchdown plus 2 carries, 96 yards, and a touchdown. Rutgers had 386 total yards including 151 rushing yards. Rutgers had 4 turnovers in the loss.

The Mountaineers are averaging 482.1 yards a game, including 354.9 passing yards and 127.2 rushing yards. West Virginia is #14 in total offense the passing game is ranked #7 in the country. West Virginia is averaging 38.6 points, which is #17 in college football. West Virginia has 12 turnovers and has allowed 13 sacks. The Mountaineers are 51/120 on third and fourth down conversions, and 36/40 scoring in the red zone with 26 touchdowns. West Virginia is allowing 329.5 total yards a game, including 196.5 passing yards a game. Both are ranked  in the top 30 in the country. WVU allows 133 rushing yards a game.   The Mountaineers are allowing 26.1 points a game. The Mountaineers have forced 13 turnovers and 10 sacks. West Virginia opponents are 50/135 on third and fourth down conversions, and 24/29 scoring in the red zone with 17 touchdowns. The Mountaineers have 2 defensive/special teams touchdowns, but have given up 4.

Smith is 209/330 passing, for 2,715 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions, plus a rushing touchdown. Running back Dustin Garrison has 83 carries, 517 yards, and 5 touchdowns, along with 18 catches for 141 yards. Alston has 43 carries, 247 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Vernard Roberts has 44 carries, 140 yards,  and 3 scores, along with 4 catches. Roberts missed the last 3 games but is expected to play against Louisville.  Andrew Buie has 31 carries, 104 yards, and a touchdown, along with 6 catches. Receiver Stedman Bailey has 43 catches, 815 yards, and 7 touchdowns.  Austin has 56 catches, 691 yards, and 3 touchdowns, along with 5 carries, 84 yards and a rushing touchdown. Austin has over 1,400 all purpose yards for the Mountaineers, and also has a kickoff return for a touchdown this season. Ivan McCartney has 37 catches, 475 yards, and 3 touchdowns.  Tyler Urban has 2 touchdown catches, and Brad Starks has 4. Kicker Tyler Bitancurt is 37/39 on extra points and 12/13 on field goals with a long of 45 yards. Linebacker Josh Rigg and Offensive lineman Josh Jenkins are both out for the season.

West Virginia is 4-4 against the spread this season and the total is 7-1 in those games. Louisville is 5-3 ATS and the total is 0-7-1 in those games. The last two games have gone under in this series. The Cardinals are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 conference games, overall, and as road underdogs, 5-0 in road games against teams with winning home records, against teams with winning records, as an underdog of 10.5 points more, as a road dog of more than 10.5 points, 10-1 in road games, 4-1 after a cover, and as an underdog, 5-2 after allowing 20 points or less, and 2-5 after a straight up win. The Mountaineers are 5-0 ATS in November games, 5-1-1 in conference games, 4-1 as a favorite, 4-11-1 as a favorite of  10-5 points or more, including 3-9-1 at home.

Something has to give here. Seven of Louisville’s eight games have gone under the total with one push, while 7 of the 8 West Virginia games have gone over the total. Both teams have good defenses, and in Louisville’s case a great defense. I think Louisville should be able to keep it close with their defense, but West Virginia should win.

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