11/10/2003 1:00AM

They're perfect, yet bettors still don't believe


LAS VEGAS - Heading into last weekend's action, Rutgers was the only football team in the country (college or pro) that was undefeated against the point spread.

The Scarlet Knights were 8-0 against the spread, and a week ago Sunday the Stardust made them a 7 1/2-point underdog at Connecticut. The early money came in on Rutgers and the line was lowered to 7. During the course of last week, the line wavered between +7 and +7 1/2 at Las Vegas's sports books before closing at 7 all over town.

On Saturday, Rutgers actually led 17-7 at halftime before UConn rallied in the second half for a 38-31 victory. The record books will read that the game was a push and that Rutgers is now 8-0-1 against the spread - still undefeated - but there are plenty of bettors out there who cashed at +7 1/2 and consider them 9-0.

So, it was a little surprising Sunday night when the Stardust opened Boston College as a 6 1/2-point favorite over Rutgers for their game this Saturday and the first bets came in on Boston College, moving the line to +7 (though some offshore lines were set at +7 1/2, so the early bettors were likely trying to set up a middle if Rutgers happens to lose by a touchdown again).

There were 10 other college football lines that moved in the early betting (see chart), with most of them also revolving around key numbers.

After a day of watching NFL home teams win 11 of 13 games and go 10-1-2 against the spread, early bettors are backing four home teams, though again it's probably more a reflection of the spreads being around key numbers. The Bills were bet from -6 1/2 to -7 over the Texans; the Bengals were bet from +7 down to +6 1/2 vs. the Chiefs; the Seahawks took money at -9 1/2 vs. the Lions; and the Raiders were bet from +5 1/2 to +5 vs. the Vikings.

Seven NFL games were off the board due to teams playing Sunday and Monday night and because of injuries to various players.

Sports book notes

In yet another controversial decision in the world of boxing, Roy Jones Jr. won Antonio Tarver's WBC and IBF light heavyweight belts with a narrow decision last Saturday at Mandalay Bay. One judge, Jerry Roth, had it as a 114-114 draw, while the other two judges gave the fight to Jones, 117-111 and 116-112. Tarver threw significantly more punches (504-424) and landed more punches (120-111). Jones said he wants his next fight to be vs. Mike Tyson next spring in either New York or New Orleans.

* Bill Elliott won the Pop Secret 400 on Sunday in Rockingham, N.C., at odds of 25-1, but Matt Kenseth finished fourth to clinch the Winston Cup points championship. When Station Casinos put up futures last year, Kenseth was 15-1 behind the Gordons, Earnhardts, and Stewarts of the NASCAR world. Micah Roberts, the auto-racing oddmaker for the Station Casinos, said next year's Daytona 500 and NEXTEL points championship (Winston gave up the naming rights) will be posted next month.

* Chad Campbell, a former UNLV golfer, made his first PGA victory a memorable one as he ran away with the Tour Championship at the Champions Golf Club in Houston. At the Palms sports book, Campbell was a 30-1 outsider in the 31-player, invitation-only field, but he shot a course-record 61 on Saturday and held on Sunday for a three-stroke victory over Charles Howell III (also 30-1). Coincidentally, Campbell and Howell III were pitted in a head-to-head matchup by Las Vegas Sports Consultants before the tournament.

Early football line moves


Took moneyOpenBet ToOpponent

Boston College-6.5-7RUTGERS




NOTRE DAME -7-7.5Brigham Young


TULSAPK-1Louisiana Tech


Kansas St.+1.5PKNEBRASKA

OREGON ST.-13-13.5Stanford

NEW MEXICO-4-4.5Air Force


Took moneyOpenBet ToOpponent

BILLS -6.5-7Texans


SEAHAWKS-9.5 (-110)-9.5 (-120)Lions


Home team in CAPS

Last week: Early college bettors were 10-9 against the Stardust opening lines, posting their second straight winning week (albeit by the slimmest of margins). For the season, college lines moves are still well below .500 at 66-75 (46.8 percent). In the NFL, the early bettors went a perfect 5-0 with the Titans, Chiefs, Bills (bet from +4 1/2 to +4 in a game that landed on 4, but the earliest bettors got a win) and Rams, as well as the over in the Ravens-Rams game. For the year, NFL line moves are 13-16 (44.8 percent) and 7-1 (87.5 percent) on totals for a combined record of 20-17 (54.1 percent).