Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher, who gives some words of wisdom to quarterback Kellen Mond (11), has the Aggies on the rise with their second big win in a row. [Laura McKenzie / Bryan-College Station Eagle]

Mike Craven

Hookem.com staff

Column

Craven’s Corner: Eleven bets to place this week across college football, NFL

Posted October 14th, 2020

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So far, our October is shaping up similarly to the October that the Longhorns and Cowboys are experiencing. We were riding high with a 14-5 record in September. Going 1-4 last week brings the October mark to 3-7. Still, we’re betting with house money after a 17-12 start to the season. A solid slate of NFL games and few intriguing college matchups means we’ll place 11 bets this week. 

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

As for point spreads, the team with the negative number is a favorite. For example, Oklahoma was a -2.5 point favorite over Texas in the Red River Rivalry last weekend. The Sooners needed to win by at least 3 points to cash. Texas needed to lose by 2.5 points or fewer. 

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We’re using BetMGM.com 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

BYU -5.5 over Houston: BYU struggled in a win over UTSA last week. Conversely, the Cougars were impressive in a 49-31 win over Tulane in Houston’s first game of a weird 2020 campaign. Fans will overreact to both outcomes, so we’ll take BYU because this line was going to be close to 10 points before the performances last weekend. BYU is the better team and it’s heading into its fifth game of the season. 

Pittsburgh +10.5 over Miami: Miami hasn’t handled adversity well over the past 15 years or so. The Hurricanes face some this week following a disappointing showing in a prime-time loss to Clemson. Those types of disappointments can linger, and it’ll be hard for the Hurricanes to get up for this game a week after Clemson. Miami should win, but I’ll take Pitt to keep the game in single digits. 

Auburn ML (-162) over South Carolina: Auburn is favored by three points. We’ll forego the points and take Auburn on the money line, meaning the Tigers just need to win the game for us to cash. Auburn struggled in a two-point win over Arkansas, so my money is on Guz Malzahn’s program playing better against a pesky South Carolina squad coming off a win over Vanderbilt.

Texas A&M -6.5 over Mississippi State: Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond was terrific in the victory over Florida, setting school records for career passing yards, attempts and completions. The Aggies face a familiar opponent this week with Mike Leach, formerly of Texas Tech when the Aggies were still in the Big 12, on the other sideline. Mississippi State has struggled to score in the past two games. The A&M run game also was strong against Florida. 

Georgia +7 over Alabama: This is the big game of the week between the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the country. I’m not sure which will win, but I’m betting on a close game. I would take whichever team was the underdog in this matchup because it feels like a contest destined to be decided by a late field goal. The Georgia defense might be the best in the country. I think the Bulldogs at least cover the seven points. The real line is 6.5, but I’m buying the half-point to extend it to +7.  

Army -6.5 over UTSA: As a UTSA grad, I couldn’t be happier with how the Roadrunners are playing in their first season under Jeff Traylor. UTSA covered against BYU last week, so sports books are finally giving my Roadrunners some respect in the line against Army. This feels like the week UTSA regresses to the mean, however; I have Army winning by at least a touchdown thanks to a strong running game and injuries at quarterback for UTSA.  

 

NFL

Panthers ML (-139) over Bears: First-year coach Matt Rhule is already impressing. We’ve lost betting against the Panthers in consecutive weeks, so we’re backing them to win a close game. We’ll forego the points and simply bet on the Panthers to win against the Bears and Austin native Nick Foles. 

Lions ML (-189) over Jaguars: The Lions are floating around a three-point favorite over the Jaguars on the road, but we only trust Detroit enough to earn the victory without worrying about the margin of victory. Detroit was idle last week, giving the Lions two weeks to prepare for Jacksonville. The Jags just lost to Cincinnati and rookie quarterback Joe Burrow. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is in store for a big day.   

Browns +3.5 over Steelers: The Browns are beginning to build real momentum toward a playoff spot in a stacked AFC North that includes Pittsburgh and Baltimore. The Browns and Lake Travis alum Baker Mayfield can put the division, and the NFL, on notice with a win over the Steelers. Cleveland at +3.5 is the safe bet. 

Packers ML (-134) over Buccaneers: Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is among the early league MVP candidates alongside Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes. A matchup between future Hall of Fame quarterbacks is in store in this game with Rodgers taking on Tom Brady. Give me Rodgers in a close one. 

Cowboys +2.5 over Cardinals: Dallas must regroup without its leader, injured quarterback Dak Prescott, but Andy Dalton is not the normal backup quarterback. He’s a solid replacement capable of leading Dallas to a few wins with Prescott out for the rest of the season. I expect Dallas to play motivated without Prescott and pull the upset this week thanks to pride. 

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