Week 7 of the college football season begins Friday in the state of Texas when North Texas hosts Marshall. It is one of nine games on the slate for the FBS schools in the state. UTSA hope to remain undefeated with a win over Rice in the only intrastate game of the week. Baylor hosts BYU in a showdown between future Big 12 foes, and UTEP hopes to reach bowl eligibity with its sixth win of 2021.
Lines provided by Bovada. Houston and SMU are idle in Week 7.
North Texas vs. Marshall, Friday, 6:30 p.m., CBSSN
Line: North Texas +11, O/U 66.5
Preview: The Mean Green (1-4) hope to snap a four-game losing skid on Friday night when Marshall (3-3) arrives in Denton. Marshall snapped a three-game losing streak of its own last week in an overtime win over Old Dominion. Marshall isn’t a stranger to tight games. Its three losses came by four points to Eastern Carolina, one point to Appalachian State and six points to Middle Tennessee State. Grant Wells has thrown for 2,000 yards through six games and Thundering Herd are averaging 4.6 yards a carry as a team.
A win would do wonders for a North Texas program struggling to establish a consistent identity under head coach Seth Littrell, who took over after the 2015 season. The Mean Green went 31-31 through his first five seasons and have trended downwards since quarterback Mason Fine ran out of eligibility. A win against Marshall would provide some good feelings to a program that needs an injection of positivity. Austin Aune has settled in as the starting quarterback.
Craven’s wager: Marshall +11, U 66.5
Texas vs. Oklahoma State, Saturday, 11 a.m., FOX
Line: Texas -5.5, O/U 59.5
Preview: There are two schools of thought regarding Texas (4-2) following the loss to Oklahoma as the Longhorns head into a game with an underrated Oklahoma State (5-0) squad. Either the heart-breaking loss to its rival propels Texas to run the table and secure a rematch against the Sooners for the Big 12 title, or the loss carries over into the rest of the season and Texas limps to the finish line in year one under Steve Sarkisian. I would worry more about that loss damaging the psyche of the Texas program if Tom Herman or Charlie Strong were still in charge. The program feels like it is moving in the right direction under Sarkisian despite two losses in six games.
Oklahoma State might look different to fans not paying attention to Mike Gundy’s group out of Stillwater. This a defensive team that fields versatile, athletic players at linebacker and safety. The corners are aggressive, and the defensive line is active. The Cowboys want to avoid a shootout with Texas, which wasn’t always true for previous Oklahoma State teams. This game feels like it hinges on the play of quarterback Spencer Sanders. If the Cowboys get the good version, Texas is in trouble.
Craven’s wager: Oklahoma State +5.5
Texas A&M at Missouri, Saturday, 11 a.m., SEC Network
Line: Texas A&M -9.5, O/U 59.5
Preview: Texas A&M resurrected its 2021 season with a shocking upset over Alabama. The win erased most of the bad memories from an 0-2 start to the SEC season. The Aggies should roll past a Missouri team that couldn’t cover against North Texas in Week 6. Jimbo Fisher should allow his running attack to pound the Tigers into submission before getting his reserves some work in the second half.
Craven’s wager: Texas A&M -9.5, U 59.5
Texas State vs. Troy, Saturday, 2 p.m., ESPN+
Line: Texas State +7.5, O/U 48
Preview: The good news for Texas State (2-3) is that the Troy (3-3) offense isn’t known for blowing out opponents. The bad news for the Bobcats is that the Troy defense can shut down offenses. Texas State emerged from the bye week with renewed energy and carried that momentum to an overtime win over South Alabama. It was the second overtime win for the Bobcats in the 2021 campaign. To win, Texas State quarterback Brady McBride must handle pressure better than he did in Week 6 when South Alabama coaxed him into three interceptions. Expect head coach Jake Spavital to rely on the Texas State run game to keep the Bobcats within range heading into the fourth quarter. Troy’s inability to put most opponents away leads me to believe that Texas State can cover, even if it is a backdoor cover that it doesn’t deserve. The over/under is at 48 and I tend to bet the over on any college football game set at below 49.
Craven’s wager: Texas State +7.5, O 48
Baylor vs. BYU, Saturday, 2:30 p.m., ESPN
Line: Baylor -6.5, O/U 50.5
Preview: “The Battle of the Book” (working title) is a future Big 12 matchup and an intriguing one considering some of the current ties between the two programs. Baylor offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes and offensive line coach Matt Matteos were hired away from BYU in the offseason. The two have helped the Bears to a 5-1 record and increased production in nearly every statistical category for the Baylor offense. The Bears are averaging 13 more points per game than they did in 2020 and the run game has improved from 2.4 yards a carry in 2020 to six yards a carry in 2021.
BYU (5-1) lost for the first time last week against Boise State. The Cougars hold wins over Arizona, Utah and Arizona State. Sophomore quarterback Jaren Hall has thrown for 863 yards and eight touchdowns to just three interceptions. His QBR of 78 is 15th in the country. The BYU rushing attack averages 4.9 yards per game and is led by Tyler Allgeier.
Craven’s wager: Baylor -6.5, U 50.5
Texas Tech at Kansas, Saturday, 3 p.m., Big 12 Network
Line: Texas Tech -16.5, O/U 66.5
Preview: Texas Tech (4-2) should erase the memory of the TCU lost with a no-fuss win at Kansas (1-4). The Red Raiders are three-possession favorites on the road against the Jayhawks. A quick start would be the best medicine for Texas Tech. It would infuse some belief back into the roster and erase any thoughts of an upset by Kansas. Staying healthy and taking care of business are the two priorities for Matt Wells’ program. A win brings the total to five and that is one away from bowl eligibility. Kansas’ lone win was by three points over South Dakota on Sept. 3.
Craven’s wager: Texas Tech -16.5
UTSA vs. Rice, Saturday, 5 p.m., ESPN+
Line: UTSA -18.5, O/U 54
Preview: The Roadrunners (6-0) are building a reputation as road warriors in 2021 with wins away from home over Illinois, Memphis, and Western Kentucky. The victory over Western Kentucky in Week 6 was a shootout that quarterback Frank Wilson emerged victorious from with six passing touchdowns compared to five from Western Kentucky quarterback, and Houston Baptist product, Bailey Zappe. I expect UTSA to return to a game plan focused on rushing the football with Sincere McCormick and playing sound defense.
Rice (2-3) was allowed two weeks to prepare for UTSA thanks to a bye in Week 6. The Owls entered that off week on a two-game winning streak following wins over Texas Southern and Southern Miss. The revelation in those wins was the play of quarterback Jake Constantine, who completed 46 of his 60 passes for 543 yards and three touchdowns to only one interception during those two wins. He was the third starting quarterback for Rice in 2021. The defense is good enough to keep UTSA close.
Craven’s wager: Rice +18.5
TCU at Oklahoma, Saturday, 6:30 p.m., ABC
Line: TCU +13.5
Preview: The TCU/Oklahoma game is always interesting because it matches up the offensive brain of Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley against the defensive brain of Horned Frogs leader Gary Patterson. Both teams are coming off wins. Oklahoma (6-0) overcame an 18-point deficit against Texas in the Red River Showdown and found a new quarterback in freshman Caleb Williams. The Sooners defense played well in the second half, and Kennedy Brooks enjoyed a lot of success on the ground.
TCU (3-2) also has a nice ground game with Zach Evans and Kendre Miler combining for 328 yards and five touchdowns on 29 carries in the 52-31 win over Texas Tech. Quarterback Max Duggan only threw the ball 10 times in the win, though he did complete eight of those for 104 yards and a touchdown. That passing game will be needed to beat Oklahoma, so big games from wide receivers such as Quentin Johnston and Taye Barber are a must if the Horned Frogs want to pull the upset.
Craven’s wager: TCU +14 (buy the hook)
UTEP vs. Louisiana Tech, Saturday, 8 p.m., ESPN+
Line: UTEP +6.5, O/U 56
Preview: The Miners (5-1) are one win away from bowl eligibility. The only hiccup was a loss at Boise State back on Sept. 10. UTEP is on a three-game winning streak and sit at 2-0 in Conference USA with wins over Southern Miss and Old Dominion. The road gets tougher starting with Louisiana Tech (2-3). The three losses came by one point to Mississippi State, two points to SMU and seven points to North Carolina State.
UTEP is the feel-good story of FBS football in Texas and look like a team ready to reach a bowl game for the first time since 2014, but Louisiana Tech is a solid team that is better than its record suggests. The Miners’ defense must come up with turnovers and the offense needs big plays. The safe money is on the Bulldogs.
Craven’s wager: Louisiana Tech -6.5, U 56
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