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Craven’s Corner: Backing Texas, Texas A&M in pivotal contests; three NFL wagers

Craven’s Corner is seven games above .500 for the 2020 football season after 3-1 week hampered by COVID-19 cancellations and postponements at the college and NFL level. We were 2-0 in college football and 2-1 in the NFL. For November, we went 20-14-1 with most of those wins in college football. Over the past six weeks, Craven’s Corner is 11-10-3 betting on NFL games. 

Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman speak with the officials during a timeout against Iowa State Cyclones during NCAA college football game on Saturday, November 27, 2020; Austin, Texas, at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. [RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

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 Showdown. The Sooners needed to win by at least 3 points to cash. Texas needed to lose by 2.5 points or fewer. 

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 

Texas -9 over Kansas State: Some onlookers may expect a letdown for the Longhorns considering head coach Tom Herman is on the hot seat and a pair of captains, Sam Cosmi and Caden Sterns, have opted out of the final two games to focus on the NFL Draft because Texas is no longer in Big 12 title contention. Like with most things in life, I’m going to go in the opposite direction of the public. 

Whether the fans agree or disagree, the players on this team like Herman. There is more strife and separation among the fan base than inside the locker room. And the players know that the failures of Herman are also failures of the team, which includes the players. This team wants to make a statement. Kansas State is an easy team to make that statement against considering its troubles throwing the football. 

Texas A&M -6 over Auburn: Texas A&M is responsible for a few of our wins this season, so we’re going to keep backing the Aggies as they march towards a potential spot in the College Football Playoffs. Reaching the playoffs requires Texas A&M to win out in impressive fashion. Texas A&M looked rusty and sloppy in the win over LSU. I expect the Aggies to play an inspired game against Auburn, and I don’t expect A&M to take its foot off of the gas if it builds a lead over Auburn. 

Arkansas +3.5 over Missouri: Arkansas is on a two-game losing streak coming into this game following a close loss to LSU and a blowout loss to Florida back in Nov. The Razorbacks are coming off an open week, however, and Craven’s Corner leans towards teams with extra time to prepare. Arkansas quarterback Felipe Franks has passed for 2,017 yards and 17 touchdowns to just four interceptions. To win, Arkansas must stop Mizzou’s rushing attack. Buy the half point if Arkansas is only +3. 

West Virginia +7.5 over Iowa State: Iowa State was a couple of coaching decisions away from falling in Austin. Had the Cyclones lost to the Longhorns, this line would be under 7.5 points. For that reason, we’re taking West Virginia. The Mountaineers were awarded a week off when the contest between Oklahoma and West Virginia was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. 

NFL 

Lions +3.5 over Bears: Division games are always weird, but we’re taking Detroit because teams tend to play well the week after its head coach is fired in the middle of the season. It’s a way for the players to vent frustrations and show the public that the head coach was indeed the problem. Detroit fired its coach after an embarrassing loss to the Texans on Thanksgiving. The Texans are a team playing much better following the firing of their coach earlier in the season. 

Chargers ML (-112) over Patriots: This game is nearly a pick’em on most books with the Chargers a one-point home favorite on Sunday according to MGM. Los Angeles quarterback Justin Herbert is putting together a rookie of the year season. He’s in the top 10 in passing yards and touchdowns. New England quarterback Cam Newton has thrown for twice as many interceptions as touchdowns in 2020. 

Bills -2.5 over 49ers: Craven’s Corner is on Buffalo’s bandwagon, so a neutral-site game where the Bills are favored by fewer than three points is a must-take bet. San Francisco was forced out of its home stadium for the next two home games thanks to local restrictions. This game will take place in Arizona.