Craven's Wagers: Week 4 provides plenty of juice in the state of Texas

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Week 4 offers multiple juicy matchups involving FBS teams from Texas. SMU travels to TCU for a contest pitting Dallas against Fort Worth. Texas Tech journeys down to Austin for an intriguing matchup between two programs hoping to build momentum in the Big 12. And UTSA and Baylor face steps up in competition to prove the early-season success isn’t a fluke. Each of Texas’ 12 FBS schools are in action for Week 4. 

Lines provided by Bovada. 

SMU at TCU, Saturday, 11 a.m., FS1

Line: TCU -9, O/U 64

Overview: The 100th rendition of the Battle for the Iron Skillet features a 3-0 SMU and a 2-0 TCU. The Horned Frogs are at home and coming off an open week following a close win over Cal in Week 2. TCU is averaging 39.5 points after two games and holds an all-time advantage of 51-41-7 in the series against SMU. The keys for Gary Patterson, the all-time winningest coach in TCU history, and his team are to create a pass rush defensively with its front four and to get the ball in the hands of running back Zach Evans and wide receiver Quentin Johnston. 

SMU needed a Hail Mary in the closing seconds of a road game against La Tech in Week 3 to remain undefeated. Quarterback Tanner Mordecai threw for 395 yards and five touchdowns, including the game-winner to Reggie Robinson Jr. on the final play of the game. SMU is giving up 15.6 points per game through three weeks after La Tech put up 37. 

Craven’s wager: SMU +9, O 64

Texas Tech at Texas, Saturday, 11 a.m., ABC

Line: Texas -7.5/ O/U 61

Overview: The Red Raiders ride into Austin with a 3-0 record after wins over Houston, SFA and FIU to start the season and remove some heat from under head coach Matt Wells. Texas Tech is off to a hot start thanks to a balanced offense and an improved, and physical, defense. Oregon transfer Tyler Shough threw for 399 yards passing and four touchdowns in the Week 3 win over FIU. Running back Tahj Brooks is averaging 8.1 yards per attempt. The Red Raiders defense are only allowing 21.3 points per game. 

Texas sandwiched two impressive wins over Louisiana and Rice around an embarrassing loss at Arkansas. The Longhorns looked renewed against an overmatched Owls squad with quarterback Casey Thompson, the state of Oklahoma’s all-time leading passer when he graduated in 2018, at the helm. The rushing attack accounted for 427 yards and six touchdowns on a combined 41 carries. In the two wins, both at home, Texas is allowing nine points per game. The defense allowed 40 in the loss to Arkansas. 

Craven’s wager: Texas -7.5, U 61

Texas State at Eastern Michigan, Saturday, 1 p.m., ESPN+

Line: Eastern Michigan -6.5/ O/U 62

Overview: The Bobcats allowed 42 points in a loss to Incarnate Word, an FCS program, in Week 3. It was the first loss to an FCS programs suffered by Texas State since joining the FBS in 2012. Head coach Jake Spavital is 6-21 at the helm two games into his third season, and his group needs to rally on the road against Eastern Michigan to rebuild some confidence inside the locker room. Texas State was missing more than a dozen players against UIW, so a bolstered roster should help Spavital’s squad against a 2-1 Eastern Michigan program. The schedule doesn’t get any easier with South Alabama and Troy up next. 

Craven’s wager: Texas State -7 (buy the hook), O 62

Texas A&M vs. Arkansas, Saturday, 2:30 p.m., CBS

Line: Texas A&M -5/ O/U 47.5

Overview: This game became bigger nationally with Arkansas knocking off Texas and Texas A&M’s offense on its backup quarterback. The Aggies will rely on their defense and rushing attack in the SEC battle in Arlington. The running back duo of Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane need big games against a Razorbacks defense that was stout against a Texas team featuring Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson. The A&M defense pitched a shutout against New Mexico and have only allowed 17 total points in three games. Arkansas’ offense is averaging 41 during its 3-0 start. 

Craven’s wager: Texas A&M -5, O 47.5

UTSA at Memphis, Saturday, 2:30 p.m., ESPNU

Line: UTSA +3, O/U 68

Overview: The expectations have never been higher for UTSA in its 10-year history as a football program. Head coach Jeff Traylor gets a chance to showcase his program’s growth in year two of his reign on the road against Memphis in a game that was picked up for a national broadcast thanks to the 3-0 start by the Roadrunners that included a road win over Illinois. The UTSA defense gave up 13 points in the last eight quarters and held Middle Tennessee State under 100 yards of total offense until the fourth quarter of last week’s win. The offense is headlined by running back Sincere McCormick and wide receiver Zakhari Franklin. 

Craven’s wager: UTSA +3, U 68

Baylor vs. Iowa State, Saturday, 2:30 p.m., FOX

Line: Baylor +7/ O/U 47.5

Overview: An easy early-season schedule for Baylor allowed the Bears (3-0) to build some confidence heading into a Big 12 showdown with Iowa State, one of the favorites to reach the conference championship game in December. The Bears opened the season with wins over Texas State, Texas Southern and Kansas. The most impressive unit in those wins was the offensive line, and the biggest beneficiary to those performances was running back Abram Smith, who enters the game against Iowa State with 366 yards and five touchdowns on 47 carries. The Baylor defense is only allowing 11.3 points per game. Iowa State is 2-1 with its lone loss coming against intrastate rival Iowa. 

Craven’s wager: Baylor +7, O 47.5

Texas Southern at Rice, Saturday, 5:30 p.m., ESPN3

Line: N/A

Overview: These two teams enter this contest at a combined 0-5 on the season. Rice has lost to Arkansas, Houston and Texas through Week 3. Texas Southern fell to Prairie View and Baylor. The Owls lost two quarterbacks to injury in the Week 3 loss to Texas, and their health is the biggest question mark heading into the game. Rice should hold advantages along the offensive and defensive lines. 

Craven’s wager: No bets between FBS and FCS programs but give me the Owls to win. 

North Texas at Louisiana Tech, Saturday, 6 p.m., 

Line: North Texas +12/ O/U 64.5

Overview: North Texas was beaten down by UAB in Week 3. The Mean Green were down 7-6 at SMU at halftime in Week 2. In the six quarters since, North Texas was outscored 68-6. UAB was up 30-0 at halftime and the offense, no matter which quarterback was at the helm, struggled to build any type of consistency. Austin Aune was 8 of 21 for 65 yards. Jace Rudder was 6 of 13 for 34 yards. That won’t get it done against a La Tech team that put up 37 in a heart-breaking loss at home last week to SMU. 

Craven’s wager: La Tech +12, U 64.5

Navy at Houston, Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPNU

Line: Houston -20/ O/U 48

Overview: The Cougars are 2-0 since the Week 1 loss to Texas Tech. Comfortable wins over Rice and Grambling allowed Houston to lick its wounds, however, a new hurdle emerged when starting quarterback Clayton Tune exited the Week 3 contest against Grambling. Houston might not need Tune to knock off an 0-2 Navy program, but the Cougars will need their quarterback to make any noise in the AAC. 

Craven’s wager: Navy +20, O 48

UTEP vs. New Mexico, Saturday, 8 p.m., ESPN+

Line: UTEP -1.5/ O/U 54

Overview: UTEP (2-1) can pick up its third win of the season at home in Week 4 against a New Mexico program that was shut out by Texas A&M last week. The Miners started their season a week earlier than most programs, building a 2-0 record before the Week 2 loss at Boise State. UTEP was open last week, allowing the Miners an extra week of prep for New Mexico. The main reason to tune into this game might be the jerseys. UTEP will wear a throwback Texas Western uniform that is drawing buzz on social media. 

Craven’s wager: UTEP -1.5, U 54

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