Friday Night Big East Free Betting Picks: Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Louisville Cardinals

Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Louisville Cardinals
Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium – Louisville, Kentucky
Friday, October 21, 2011, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: Rutgers -1
Current Line: Louisville -2
Opening Total: 40
Current Total 40
Opening Money Line: Rutgers -115 / Louisville -105
Current Money Line: Louisville -130 / Rutgers +110

Rutgers goes on the road Friday night to take on Louisville. Rutgers opened as a one point favorite but wiseguys have moved Louisville to -2.

The 5-1 Rutgers Scarlet Knights are 2-0 and in first place in the Big East, a game ahead of Cincinnati and West Virginia. The Scarlet Knights travel to Louisville to take on the 2-4 Cardinals who are 0-1 in conference. The Scarlet Knights, coached by Greg Schiano, have won 4 straight games since a narrow 24-22 loss at North Carolina. Rutgers has home wins over North Carolina Central 48-0, and Ohio 38-26, at Syracuse 19-16 in double overtime, and home wins over Pitt 34-10 and last week versus Navy 21-20. Louisville is coached by Charlie Strong, and have wins over Murray St 21-9 and at Kentucky 24-17, along with home losses to Florida International 24-17, and Marshall 17-13. The Cardinals have road losses at North Carolina 14-7 and last week at Cincinnati 25-16. Louisville has lost 3 in a row since the Kentucky game. Amazingly, Louisville has played 6 games all decided by 12 points or less and with no more than 41 total points in every game. Rutgers leads the series against Louisville 7-3, including 3-2 in Louisville. The Cardinals won last year 40-13 in New Jersey. Since the two became conference rivals six years ago, every game in the series has been on a Thursday or Friday night on ESPN or ESPN2.

Rutgers was a 3 point favorite at home last week against Navy. However, Navy was up 17-7 early in the 3rd quarter, before Rutgers scored twice in a row to take a 21-17 lead in the fourth quarter. Navy pulled to within one point by kicking a field goal midway through the quarter, but neither team scored for the rest of the game, making the final 21-20 Rutgers. The game featured 5 turnovers, (3 by Rutgers), including an interception returned by Navy 16 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. Rutgers had 423 total yards including 271 passing yards, quarterback Gary Nova who had two touchdown passes and 2 interceptions. Rutgers running back Jawan Jamison had 22 carries, 101 yards, and a touchdown run. Receiver Mohamed Sanu had 10 catches for 100 yards. Quron Pratt and Tim Wright each caught a touchdown pass. Kicker San San Te missed two field goals in the win.  Rutgers held Navy to 305 total yards, including just 162 rushing yards. Navy had been averaging over 360 rushing yards a game coming into the Rutgers contest.

Rutgers is 5-1 but they struggle to move the ball. The Knights average 332.8 yards a game including just 91.8 rushing yards a game. Only 9 other teams in the country rush for less yards a game than Rutgers. The passing attack averages 241 yards a game which is at least in the top 50 in the country.  Rutgers is scoring 30.3 points a game. The Scarlet Knights have 11 turnovers and have allowed 12 sacks. Rutgers is 46/109 on third and fourth down conversions, and 22/26 scoring in the red zone with 15 touchdowns. Rutgers is allowing just 300 yards a game including 105.5 rushing yards. Both are in the top 25 nationally. The Knights allow just 16 points a game. Rutgers has forced 24 turnovers and 24 sacks this season. Knight opponents are 28/84 on third and fourth down conversions, and 10/15 scoring in the red zone with 5 touchdowns. Rutgers has 4 defensive touchdowns this year.

Chas Dodd was the Rutgers quarterback but was benched for the Pitt game two weeks ago. Nova is now the starter. Dodd is 69/127 passing for 754 yards, 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Nova is 55/99 passing for 683 yards, 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Jamison is the leading rusher with 113 carries, 344 yards, and a touchdown, along with 6 catches for 59 yards. Savon Huggins only has 41 carries for 100 yards but has 4 rushing touchdowns for Rutgers.  Sanu has 55 catches, 555 yards, and 5 touchdowns. The versatile  Sanu also returns punts, and has a handful of carries and pass attempts for the Knights. Mark Harrison, Joe Martinek, Pratt, and Wright also get significant catches. Kicker San San Te is 20/20 on extra points and 12/18 on field goals with a long of 50 yards. Rutgers has 5 defensive players out for the season.

Cincinnati was a 13 point favorite last week at home against Louisville. The Cardinals were up 16-7 at halftime but were outscored 18-0 in the second half. Cincinnati won 25-16 but Louisville covered the college football betting line. Louisville had 271 total yards including 70 rushing yards and 13 first downs. Louisville did not score an offensive touchdown, as they had 3 field goals and a 63 yard interception return for a touchdown with 6 seconds left before halftime. The Bearcats had 330 total yards including 178 rushing yards and 16 first downs.

Louisville is averaging 330.8 yards and 16.3 points a game. The Cardinals are averaging 227.7 yards passing a game. Louisville is rushing for 109.2 yards a game.  The problem has been penalties and turnovers for the Cardinals. They have turned the ball over 10 times and are averaging just over 8 penalties a game. The Cardinals have also allowed 22 quarterback sacks  this season, another problem area as it leads to a lot of 3rd and longs. Louisville is 41/102 on third and fourth down conversions  this season, and 8/12 scoring in the red zone with 5 touchdowns. Louisville is allowing 303.5 total yards and 17.7 points a game. The Cardinals are allowing 100.7 rushing yards a game. Louisville has forced 18 sacks and 6 turnovers this season. Cardinal opponents are 40/100 on third and fourth down conversions, and 12/14 scoring in the red zone with 7 touchdowns. Louisville has just the one defensive touchdown in the Cincinnati game.

Louisville quarterback Will Stein is 51/83 passing with 621 yards, 5 touchdowns and an interception along with 23 carries for 4 yards. Stein is questionable with a shoulder injury and threw only 4 passes last week. If Stein can’t go, Teddy Bridgewater will be the starter. Bridgewater is 68/108 passing for 709 yards, 4 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, along with 39 carries for 41 yards and a touchdown. Bridgewater is more mobile than Stein and can escape more sacks behind the leaky offensive line. Running back Dominique Brown has 60 carries for 211 yards, along with 5 catches for 39 yards and a touchdown catch. Jeremy Wright has 49 carries for 176 yards, and 4 catches for 17 yards.  Running back Victor Anderson has 36 carries for 155 yards and a touchdown along with 11 catches for 92 yards and a touchdown. Anderson missed last two games with an ankle injury and is listed as questionable against Rutgers.  Receiver Josh Chichester has 18 catches for 261 yards and no touchdowns. Michaelee Harris has 20 catches, 222 yards and 1 touchdown. DeVante Parker has 9 catches, 141 yards and 3 touchdowns. Parker also missed the last two games and is questionable for the Rutgers game with an ankle injury.  Josh Bellamy has 13 catches for 130 yards and a touchdown.  Kicker Chris Philpott is 11/12 on extra points and is 5/8 on field goals with a long of 51 yards. Cornerback Darius Ashley is suspended indefinitely.

Louisville is 3-3 against the spread this season and the total is 0-5-1 in those games. Rutgers is 5-1 ATS and 5 of the 6 games have gone under. The last 2 games in this series have gone over the total. Rutgers is 3-0-1 ATS in the last 4 as an underdog, 5-1-1 overall, 4-1-1 on turf, 3-1-1 in road games, 21-8-2 as a road underdog, 5-2 in Friday games, 3-7 following a straight up win, 2-6-1 following a game where they failed to cover, and 0-5 ATS against teams with losing records. The Cardinals are 4-0 ATS following a straight up loss, 4-1 against teams with winning records, 5-2 as a home favorite of 3 points or less, 6-14 in the last 20 conference games, 1-5 in Friday games, 0-5 at home, and 0-4 as a home favorite.

These two teams are very similar, in that they both have great defenses and not so great offenses. The main difference is Rutgers is winning their close games and Louisville is losing theirs. The line has moved from Rutgers -1 to Louisville -2. I like the under in this game as the total is 1-10-1 between the two teams this season.

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