Texas head coach Tom Herman meets with Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy following Oklahoma State's 38-35 win in Stillwater, Okla., on Oct. 27, 2018. [NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

Mike Craven

Hookem.com staff

Column

Craven’s Corner: Taking underdogs in the Big 12, with four NFL wagers

Posted October 28th, 2020

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Nothing has been easy in 2020, including sports gambling. This might be the hardest year in memory to place bets on games that may or may not happen, counting on players who may or may not play in the game. The disruptions in practice schedules and missing players in practice that aren’t announced to the public make it even harder. We enter November with a 26-25-2 record against the spread. We went 5-6-2 last week, missing out on a winning record when Kyler Murray led the Cardinals on a comeback victory against Seattle. 

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. 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

Kansas State +3.5 over West Virginia: West Virginia enters the contest with Kansas State as a 3.5-point favorite despite its loss to Texas Tech on the road. This is essentially a coin toss game according to the sports book, with the Mountaineers earning the standard three points for being the home team. Kansas State will run the ball with Deuce Vaughn and make enough plays defensively to win this game or keep it within a field goal. 

TCU ML (-129) over Baylor: Neither team is great, but TCU is the favorite. I won’t give any points but taking the Horned Frogs to win the game is the right bet. TCU was throttled last weekend by Oklahoma, but Baylor probably looked worse in its loss at Texas. TCU holds a slight advantage on defense and at wide receiver. 

Virginia Tech ML (-162) over Louisville: This is the only non-Big 12 game I’m betting on this week with a relatively weak slate of action at the college level. The Hokies are a 3.5-point favorite. We’re foregoing the points to take Virginia Tech outright on the road. Virginia Tech averages eight more points per game than Louisville. 

Texas +3.5 over Oklahoma State: My theory on betting the Longhorns is similar to my theory betting the Cowboys: Go against the public. When Texas is riding high, I usually take the other team. When Texas is an underdog, I usually back the Longhorns. This team plays to its competition and I fully expect one of Texas’ best efforts on the road. This also feels like the type of game a Mike Gundy-coached squad chokes away. 

 

NFL

Panthers ML (-143) over Falcons: The Thursday night game features two teams coming off close losses. The Falcons are playing better after their coach was fired a few weeks ago. The Panthers are overachieving even with the recent three-point loss to New Orleans. At home, I like the Panthers to keep their hopes for a playoff spot alive with a win over Atlanta.  

Lions +3 over Colts: Home underdogs are usually a good bet in the NFL. The Lions are a scrappy 3-3 with losses coming to potential playoff teams in the Bears, Packers and Saints. The Colts are not on the same level as those three teams. Give me the Lions and three points to upset the Colts.   

Steelers +4 over Ravens: The Steelers proved they’re for real with a hotly-contested win over the Titans. Pittsburgh gets another chance to earn a statement victory with a trip to Baltimore. Division games are usually close, so I’m taking the four points and the Steelers. 

Seahawks ML (-176) over 49ers: We were burned when Seattle relinquished a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter to Arizona, eventually losing in overtime. We’ll get back on the horse this week with the Seahawks in an important divisional contest against San Francisco. I like Seattle because of the injuries suffered by some of the 49ers’ best players, especially on defense. Russell Wilson rarely allows Seattle to lose two in a row. 

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