09/30/2002 12:00AM

Early bettors hammer USC


LAS VEGAS - The professionals who take a first crack at Las Vegas opening football lines had one of their worst weeks in recent memory (see accompanying box), but they were back Sunday night at the Stardust for another try.

This week's biggest line move is on Southern Cal, which is coming off a 22-0 thrashing of Oregon St. The Trojans opened as a 1 1/2-point road favorite at Washington St. and were bet up to 2, then 2 1/2, and finally 3 before Shaun Alexander even scored the first of his five first-half TD's against the Vikings Sunday night.

San Jose St. also attracted lots of early money, opening as a 3-point favorite over SMU and getting bet up to -4 1/2. Some of the San Jose St. bettors undoubtedly were up late Saturday night, watching San Jose St. romp, 58-24, over UTEP, while SMU was getting whipped, 42-10, by Hawaii. The 3-point spread, even with SMU being at home, seemed light.

In the NFL, this week's Raiders-Bills total got bet from 50 to 51 and the Titans were bet up from 5 1/2- to 6-point favorites over the Redskins. Once some bettors moved to the NFL, others followed and backed the Bills, Cardinals, Bengals, and Bears.