10/20/2002 11:00PM

Irish big dogs - and no one bites


LAS VEGAS - When this week's opening football lines were announced, the one that got the Stardust crowd buzzing the most was Florida St. opening as an 11-point favorite over undefeated Notre Dame.

It reminded people of December 2000 when Florida St. opened as an 11-point favorite over undefeated Oklahoma in the 2001 Orange Bowl and got beat by the Sooners, 13-2 (interestingly, by exactly 11 points). The consensus this time was that you couldn't give Notre Dame that many points.

But by the end of the lottery - when Las Vegas's professional bettors get the first crack at the opening numbers - no one had put his money where his mouth was.

The first bet was actually on the NFL, which is a rarity, but Stardust race and sports book director Joe Lupo figures that the person who drew the first pick in the lottery just happens to always bet the NFL. The play moved the Eagles from -6 1/2 to -7 versus the Giants Monday night.

Early bettors liked the other New York team, betting the Jets from a 2 1/2- to a 3-point favorite over the Browns, and also backed the Falcons (bet from +4 1/2 to +4 at the Saints). The only other NFL line move was on the under in the Texans-Jaguars game, bet from 39 1/2 to 38 1/2.

There were 17 college line moves, which haven't fared as well as the NFL moves (see last week's recap below). Four games were double moves, which means the line moved after a limit wager and then someone else kept pounding that side. The four were Maryland (bet from -10 to -10 1/2 and then -11 at Duke), Kentucky (bet from +5 1/2 to +5 to +4 1/2 at home vs. Georgia), Wisconsin (bet from -1 1/2 to -2 to -2 1/2 at Michigan St.) and Louisiana-Monroe (bet from +8 1/2 to +7 1/2 to +7 vs. Utah St.).

Last week: College bettors had a rare winning record last week as they went 9-8 against the opening Stardust numbers, but losing plays included Iowa State against Oklahoma and Air Force vs. Notre Dame. For the season, college line moves are 64-80 (44.4 percent). The jury was still out on the NFL line moves for the week. They were 2-2 - winning on the Lions and the Cowboys-Cardinals under and losing on the Vikings and Texans - but had two plays pending with the Steelers (which were bet from -3 to -3 1/2 last Sunday) and the under (which was bet from 46 to 45) in Monday night's game. Heading into that contest, NFL line moves were 25-20 (55.6 percent) for the season.