LSU Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron and the Tigers take the field during an NCAA football game between the Georgia Southern Eagles and Louisiana State University Tigers in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Democker)

Mike Craven staff


Craven’s Corner: A full slate of NFL, college games to bet on provide opportunity

Posted September 4th, 2019


The corner wasn’t kind to us last week with Northwestern giving up a meaningless touchdown to Stanford’s defense with under a minute left in the game and Oregon blowing a win against Auburn. As the old gambling saying goes, “craps happens.” The week ended on a positive note with Houston covering on the road against Oklahoma, though. 

This week provides new opportunities with college football in full swing and the NFL beginning on Thursday night with a game between the Bears and the Packers. All eyes in college football are on the state of Texas with No. 9 Texas hosting No. 6 LSU and No. 12 Texas A&M facing No. 1 Clemson on the road. 

A quick refresher: Betting looks difficult, but it is easy to grasp. A negative number denotes the favorite. The number after the negative represents how much money you’d need to bet to win $100. For example, a -265 favorite would require a $265 bet to win $100. Conversely, a positive number is the underdog. The number following the positive represents how much money you’d make on a $100. So, a +265 bet means $100 earns you $265.


We’ll use as our general sports book. Remember that lines fluctuate based on bets and are subject to change before kickoff.

Got it? OK, let’s make some money:

College football 

UCLA -7.5 over San Diego State: UCLA was a weird officiating decision from covering against a solid Cincinnati team. San Diego State managed just six points at home against Weber State in its opener. UCLA is back at home in Week 2 and needs an impressive win to reset the button. This was seven points on Tuesday, so the public is moving toward UCLA. 

North Texas +3.5 over SMU: This line shocks me as a close follower of small-program football in the state of Texas. SMU was impressive in a Week 1 win over Arkansas State, one of the few plays we won last week, but North Texas is the better team with quarterback Mason Fine. I may talk myself into taking North Texas on the money line, which sits at +150. 

Texas +6.5 over LSU: I may stay away from this bet in order to simply enjoy the game as a fan. There are so many variables entering the biggest contest in Austin since Colt McCoy was playing. The edge should be given to LSU because of its defense and quarterback Joe Burrow, but 6.5 seems like too much to give with Texas playing at home. The Longhorns see spread offenses every week, so the change for LSU shouldn’t shock the system. 

Penn State -30 over Buffalo: Penn State proved it doesn’t mind running up the score in a 79-7 win over Idaho in Week 1. Buffalo isn’t 40 points better than Idaho, so the Nittany Lions are capable of covering this line with similar execution as Week 1. Penn State’s running game looked dominant, even when attempting to run out the clock late against Idaho. 

UTSA +25.5 over Baylor: The Frank Harris era began for UTSA when the young quarterback accounted for more than 300 yards in a win over Incarnate Word. Baylor is the clear favorite and should win this game with relative ease, but give me the Roadrunners to cover with a late score or two once the Bears pull the starters. 


Atlanta +4 over Minnesota: The Falcons are a sneaky pick in the NFC South and get a chance to over-perform in the opener with a road game against the Vikings. Give me Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense to keep up with the Vikings and lose by a field goal or less. This is another game that I might bet the money line, which is Atlanta +165. 

Baltimore -7 over Miami: I’m high on Baltimore because of quarterback Lamar Jackson and an always consistent defense. The Ravens won’t win pretty with Jackson still further ahead as a runner than a pocket passer, but they’ll win. Miami is a mess right now following trades of multiple players. 

Philadelphia -10 over Washington: Do we even know who the starting quarterback is in Washington? The Eagles are the NFC East favorites and get a Week 1 opportunity to plant a flag on the division race by thumping the Redskins. Give me Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense to score at will, while the Redskins offense looks hapless. 

Oakland +1 over Denver: This is another puzzling line. I’m not high on the Raiders because the schedule is brutal and overloaded with travel, but I like them here at home against a Denver team without much identity. Maybe I watched too much “Hard Knocks.” Don’t even take the point. Just take Oakland straight up at -105. 

Green Bay +3 over Chicago: I’ll always bet on Aaron Rogers in openers. Green Bay is boasting a new offense and it’ll take the league a few weeks to catch up, while Chicago underwent a change at defensive coordinator. Give me the Packers and the points.