Marshall appears best of 'Dangerfields'

August 27, 2002 6:08 AM
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After eight weeks of researching the top conferences in the country, it’s time to wrap these preseason previews with reliable longshots and gaming info often eluding the radar screen.

There are the "Dangerfield" schools, ones who get no R-E-S-P-E-C-T and play the Aretha Franklin golden oldie into the ground.

Here’s seven that won’t crap out on a dice table.

Marshall: The West Virginia power was dominant in Division 1-AA before doing the same to the Mighty MAC. Randy Moss (Minnesota Vikings WR) and Chad Pennington (NY Jets QB) put the Thundering Herd on the national map in the late 90s.

This year the NFL scouts are drooling over QB Byron Leftwich, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound monster who could be the first pick in next year’s draft. Leftwich threw for over 4,100 yards and 38 TDs in 2001. Marshall returns 50 players from a team that won 11 games. The test comes Sept. 12 at Virginia Tech.

Louisville: The Cardinals are much like Marshall. Once just a basketball power, attention began turning to football once Howard Schnellenberger left a national championship program at Miami in the 1980s for the challenge of building a program from scratch at his alma-mater.

The QB position is associated with Louisville’s rise into the Top 25. Chris Redman is the top candidate for No. 1 spot with the Baltimore Ravens and his successor, giant lefty Dave Ragone, (+18 TD/INT), is a top prospect. The Cardinals were 11-2 last season and return 10 defensive starters. The big test comes Sept. 26 at home against Florida State.

Southern Miss: The Eagles were just 6-5 last year, but it was their eighth straight winning season. USM cracked the national scene in 1992 with their success as underdogs against both Alabama and Auburn. The Eagles were 6-1 ATS vs. the two SEC powers from 1992-96. Southern Miss finally broke through against Alabama two years ago with a stunning 21-0 shutout win in Birmingham as a 7½-point underdog. This year, the Eagles return 17 starters. A major test is Sept. 7 at home against defending Big Ten champ Illinois.

Fresno State: The Bulldogs scared the pants off the BCS after opening last season with consecutive victories over Colorado, Oregon State and Wisconsin en route to an 11-3 campaign. Fleet WR Bernard Berrian (19 TDs, 128 catches in three years) is back for his final year. Fresno is one of the few teams to already have a game under its belt, having played last Friday against Wisconsin. If the Bulldogs can hold their own at QB, this will be a team to fear.

East Carolina: Chapel Hill is allergic to the Greenville upstart. The Pirates duck nobody, especially ACC schools from Tobacco Road. The Pirates have had just one losing season since 1993. ECU lost five games last year by five points or less, including a wild 64-61 defeat to Marshall in the GMAC Bowl. ECU has a shot at starting 6-0 if it can get past a Sept. 28 game at West Virginia.

Toledo: The Rockets have made embarrassing the Big Ten a yearly requirement. Last year it was a 38-7 win over Minnesota as a five-point home favorite. Two seasons ago, Penn State fell 24-6 at State College. In 1997, Toledo beat Purdue 36-22 as a 9-point home underdog. Toledo is 20-3 SU over the past two seasons, including 14 straight home victories.

Boise State: The school is mostly identified with that hideous Blue Turf, which does grow on you after trying to adjust the tint knob on the TV. The Broncos are also known for passing and upset wins. The biggest came last year against David Carr and Fresno State when QB Ryan Dinwiddie led a 35-30 victory over the Bulldogs as a 16½-point road underdog 28-9 SU since 1999. Boise State is 29-1 at home, proving that blue works as a field color.//////

EARLY BETTING TIPS
FOR 2002 SEASON

Best and worst ATS from 2001

Oregon 6-0 (H), California 0-6 (A)

Georgia 5-0 (A), Georgia 0-7 (H)

Maryland 7-0 (H), N’wstrn 0-5 (A)

UCF 4-0 (H), C. Michigan 0-3 (H)

S. Florida 3-0 (H), Idaho 0-5 (H)

Clemson 5-1 (A) and 0-4(H)

N. Texas 4-1 (H), Tulsa 1-9 (H/A)

TEAM THIS WEEK

1. Texas (0-0) vs N. Texas

2. Miami (0-0) vs Fla A&M

3. Okla (0-0) at Tulsa

4. FSU (1-0) vs Virginia

5. Tenn (0-0) vs Wyoming

6. Florida (0-0) vs Ala-Birm

7. LSU (0-0) at Va. Tech

8. Colorado (0-0) vs Colo St

9. Nebraska (1-0) vs Troy St

10. Georgia (0-0) vs Clemson

11. Wash St (0-0) vs Nevada

12. USC (0-0) vs Auburn

13. Oregon (0-0) vs Miss St

14. Michigan (0-0) vs Wash

15. Mich St (0-0) vs E. Mich

16. Va.Tech (1-0) vs LSU

17. Ohio St (1-0) vs Fla A&M

18. Wash (0-0) at Michigan

19. Tex A&M (0-0) vs UL-Laf

20. Kansas St (0-0) vs W.Ky

 

TEAM THIS WEEK

1. Duke (0-0) vs E.Car

2. Houston (0-0) at Rice

3. Navy (0-0) at SMU

4. Tulsa (0-0) vs Okla

5. Ark. St (0-1) vs S.Jose

6. California (0-0) vs Baylor

7. Ohio U (0-0) at Pitt

8. Idaho (0-0) at Boise St

9. Rutgers (0-0) vs Villanova

10. Vandy (0-0) vs Ga.Tech

11. E. Mich (0-0) at Mich St

12. Wyoming (0-0) at Tenn