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Craven's Corner: Picking through a lackluster college football weekend; three NFL bets

North Carolina offensive lineman Joshua Ezeudu, left, and coach Mack Brown celebrate the Tar Heels' blowout of Temple at the Military Bowl in December 2019.

A 5-2 week pushed Craven’s Corner to 10 games above .500 with most of the success coming on the college level. On the season, we're 28-18 in college games and 23-23-3 in the NFL.

It's a slow week for college football with the schedule in shambles due to COVID-19 protocols. 

College football

North Carolina +3.5 over Miami: This ACC contest possesses a pair of Longhorns ties with former head coach Mack Brown on one sideline and former defensive coordinator Manny Diaz on the other. The Tar Heels are 4-1 since October. The only loss was to Notre Dame. Quarterback Sam Howell is third in the nation with 3,129 passing yards and fifth with 26 touchdowns. He’ll need to outplay Houston native D’Eriq King to outlast the Hurricanes. 

Texas enters the weekend as a 29.5-point favorite over Kansas.

Texas -29.5 over Kansas: My personal preference is to avoid betting on games with this big of a spread. For one, it simply isn’t that fun to intently watch a blowout. But, in the spirit of covering the Longhorns, we’ll lean toward Texas against a Kansas squad that is among the worst ever fielded by a Big 12 program. The running back duo of Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson might break records if given the opportunity. 

Rice +8.5 over UAB: Rice pulled the upset of the week over Marshall. It was Rice’s fourth game of the season. UAB is about to play for the eighth time. UAB can claim the West Division of Conference USA with a win over the Owls despite playing three fewer conference games than UTSA, which is currently in the lead with a 5-2 conference record. As a UTSA grad, I’m forced to take Rice and root for the Owls to get my Roadrunners into the conference championship game.  

Oklahoma State -4.5 over Baylor: You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who has less belief in a Mike Gundy-coached squad than me, but Baylor’s inability to score points on a consistent basis prevents me from taking the Bears. Oklahoma State is struggling, but the 2020 version of the Cowboys is still better than Baylor in the first year under head coach Dave Aranda.  

NFL

Bears +1 over Texans: Do you trust the Texans to go on the road and take care of business as a one-point favorite? I don’t. Houston has played tremendously better since relieving former head coach Bill O’Brien of his responsibilities, but it takes real leadership and belief to win road games in the NFL, especially as the favorite. Give me Chicago despite the struggles at quarterback. 

Colts -2.5 over Raiders: If there is one person more overrated than Colts quarterback Philip Rivers, it's Jon Gruden. I’m taking the Colts as the favorite because of the Indianapolis advantage on the defensive side of the football. The Colts have won three of their last four games. Las Vegas is 2-2 in that span with wins over the Jets and the Broncos. 

Bills -2.5 over Steelers: Loyal readers know the Corner backs Buffalo. The Bills are the real deal and football fans need to embrace the idea that Josh Allen is emerging as a real star at quarterback. The defense is also salty. Pittsburgh looks like a team ready to take a nosedive. 

How to bet

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 October. 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.