Craven's Wagers: Houston vs. Memphis, SMU at Cincy, Tech vs. OSU

Courtesy of SMU Football

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There are only two weeks remaining in the 2021 college football regular season. Yes, you read that correctly. Football season takes five years to arrive each offseason and then two blinks of an eye to finish. It’s a cruel truth for us fans. Luckily, the season still contains plenty of twists and turns on the horizon. Week 12 is headlined by UTSA hosting UAB and Baylor traveling to Kansas State. 

Lines are provided by Bovada. 

Houston vs. Memphis, Friday, 8 p.m., ESPN2

Lines: Houston -8.5, O/U 60.5

Preview:  The Cougars clinched a spot in the American Athletic Conference championship game last week with a convincing win over Temple. Quarterback Clayton Tune continued his efficient 2021 season with two touchdowns to no interceptions. The Cougars are on a nine-game winning streak entering the contest with Memphis, and Tune’s ability to take care of the football is a major reason why Houston is on a roll. He threw two touchdowns and four interceptions in that loss. He’s thrown for 19 touchdowns and two interceptions in the nine games since. 

Memphis is the definition of hot and cold. The Tigers are capable of upsetting Houston, just like Memphis did to SMU a few weeks ago. Memphis is also capable of laying an egg, like it did last week in an overtime loss to East Carolina. The leader for Memphis is quarterback Seth Henigan. The Denton Ryan product has thrown for 2,778 yards and 21 touchdowns in his freshman campaign. 

Craven’s wager: Memphis +8.5, O 60.5

Texas at West Virginia, Saturday, 11 a.m., ESPN2

Lines: Texas +3, O/U 56.5

Preview: Texas lost to Kansas in Week 11. That’s how bad the climate currently is on the Forty Acres in year one under Steve Sarkisian. The Longhorns head to Morgantown on a five-game losing streak that started with Texas giving up a first-half lead four times in a row, including an 18-point lead over Oklahoma. Texas is a program lacking the ability to close out teams because it is a team with no confidence or identity. That is what happens when the higher ups cycle through coaches the way college kids cycle through dating partners. 

The news only got worse this week with Bijan Robinson out for the rest of the season with a dislocated elbow. That puts even more pressure on Casey Thompson and the passing attack. He threw for six touchdowns in the loss to Kansas last week, proving the major problems for the Texas team are defensive. Wide receiver Xavier Worthy has 49 catches for 831 yards and 11 touchdowns as a true freshman. 

Craven’s wager: West Virginia -2.5 (buy the hook)

Texas A&M vs. Prairie View A&M, Saturday, 11 a.m., SEC Network

Lines: N/A

Preview: There’s not much to preview for a game between Texas A&M and Prairie View A&M. Each SEC team schedules a winnable game during the conference schedule to get an open week without taking an open week. The goal for the Aggies is to stay healthy, renew some confidence offensively, and get a look at the reserves in game action. Prairie View A&M is 7-2 on the season and on top of the West division of the SWAC. 

Craven’s wager: Pain

Texas State at Coastal Carolina, Saturday, 12 p.m., ESPN+

Lines: Texas State +24.5, O/U 61

Preview: The Bobcats hurt themselves as often as they cause damage to an opponent. Rather it is penalties or turnover or special team’s blunders, Texas State simply can’t stay out of its own way. Texas State fell to 3-7 on the season after an eight-point loss last week to Georgia Southern after the Bobcats turned the ball over twice and had a punt block returned for a touchdown. The bad news for Texas State is that Coastal Carolina enters this contest needing a win after an upset loss in Week 11 against Georgia State.  

Craven’s wager: Coastal Carolina +24 (buy the hook)

SMU at Cincinnati, Saturday, 2:30 p.m., ESPN

Lines: SMU +11.5, O/U 65

Preview: From a national perspective, this is the most important game of Week 12 involving a Texas program. The Mustangs can play spoiler on their trip to Cincinnati to take on an undefeated Bearcats team that holds hopes to reach the College Football Playoffs. The Cincinnati defense is only allowing 16.2 points per game, and only 164.4 yards passing per contest. Offensively, the Bearcats are paced by quarterback Desmond Ridder and running back Jerome Ford, who has 15 rushing touchdowns on the season. 

SMU snapped a two-game losing streak with a win over UCF in Week 11. The return of a healthy Ulysses Bentley to the SMU backfield allowed the Mustangs to score over 50 points for the first time since Nov. 21. Bentley provides SMU with big-play ability in the backfield as a runner or a receiver. It also makes life easier for Tanner Mordecai and his herd of passing targets. 

This one feels like an upset in the making. SMU has nothing to lose and is back to being explosive offensively. The main concern is the Mustangs’ secondary, but Cincinnati isn’t exactly a passing juggernaut. Give me the Mustangs to spoil the party and prevent the Bearcats from crashing the College Football Playoff. An SMU win is +340 on the books. 

Craven’s wager: SMU +11.5

UTSA vs. UAB, Saturday, 2:30 p.m., ESPN+

Lines: -4.5, O/U 53.5

Preview: Deep breaths are needed in San Antonio. UTSA narrowly avoided a horrific loss by outscoring Southern Miss by 10 points in the fourth quarter of a Week 11 matchup. The stakes are higher than ever for the Roadrunners in Week 11 when UAB comes to town because UTSA can clinch the West Division of Conference USA with a win. Head coach Jeff Traylor must keep his players calm and loose leading up the biggest game in program history. A bounce back performance is required from the offense because the execution displayed against Southern Miss will result in a loss for the Roadrunners against UAB. 

UAB has won four of its last five. The only loss in that time was an upset to the Rice Owls. The UAB defense allows just 21.5 points per game, and it might be the best front-seven UTSA has faced in 2021. The UTSA offensive line versus the defensive front of UAB might be the most important of the contest. The UAB offense is led by quarterback Dylan Hopkins and running back DeWayne McBride. 

Craven’s wager: UTSA -4.5

Rice at UTEP, Saturday, 3 p.m., ESPN+

Lines: UTEP -9, O/U 47

Preview: This feels like an important game for the progress of UTEP football. The Miners were riding high at the midpoint of the season, reaching six wins after seven games to become bowl eligible for the first time under head coach Dana Dimel. It was great progress for a program that won a total of two games in three seasons beginning in 2017. The Miners are now on a three-game losing streak and in need of a seventh win to secure a bowl invitation. Rice is starting to find some offensive footing with quarterback Jake Constantine at the helm, but his four interceptions against Western Kentucky is cause for concern. Give me UTEP to win, but not by more than a touchdown. 

Craven’s wager: Rice +9

Kansas at TCU, Saturday, 3 p.m., ESPN+

Lines: TCU -21, O/U 64.5

Preview: TCU was shown what can happen against Kansas if the Jayhawks aren’t respected last week when they knocked off Texas in Austin. TCU will enter this game with something to prove after giving up 63 points in a Week 11 loss to Oklahoma State. The Horned Frogs can achieve bowl eligibility by winning their final two games of the season. It starts with Kansas and ends at Iowa State. Jerry Kill remains interim head coach of TCU and it is looking more likely that a permanent hire isn’t made until after the regular season. TCU should win by double digits, but Kansas can score enough against a bad Horned Frogs defense to stay within 21 points.  

Craven’s wager: Kansas +21

Baylor at Kansas State, Saturday, 4:30 p.m., FS1

Lines: Baylor +1, O/U 50

Preview: Baylor jumped back into the driver’s seat for a spot in the Big 12 championship game with a dominant victory over Oklahoma. The Bears were the more physical and complete team in the Week 11 win over the Sooners with running back Abram Smith leading the offense and linebacker Terrel Bernard controlling the defense. It’ll take another physical effort to travel to Kansas State and come home with a victory. Baylor quarterback Gerry Bohanon can’t continue throwing interceptions if Baylor wants to win. These two teams are mirror images of each other. Both want to run the ball, avoid turnovers, and out-physical opponents over 60 minutes. Baylor does those things just a little bit better than Kansas State. 

Craven’s wager: Baylor +1

North Texas at FIU, Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN3

Lines: North Texas -10, O/U 58

Preview: The Mean Green should improve their winning streak to four games after a trip to FIU. North Texas began the season 1-6 and looked like a team that gave up on the season in a home loss to Marshall. Since that game, North Texas has played inspired football and managed to keep bowl hopes alive. A win over FIU would put North Texas at 5-6 with one game remaining in the regular season. 

Craven’s wager: North Texas -10

Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma State, Saturday, 7 p.m., FOX

Lines: Texas Tech +10.5, O/U 56.5 

Preview: A 62-yard field goal by Jonathan Garibay as time expired propelled Texas Tech to a win over Iowa State with new head coach Joey McGuire watching from a suite in Jones AT&T Stadium. The buzz was back in Lubbock, and the win clinched bowl eligibility for the Red Raiders for the first time since before Matt Wells was hired as head coach. A win won’t be as easy to come by in Week 12 with Oklahoma State in town. The Cowboys boast the best defense in the Big 12 and the offense put up 63 points against TCU in Week 11 thanks to its ground game. Texas Tech has struggled against teams that can run the ball in 2021. 

Craven’s wager: Oklahoma State -10 (buy the hook)

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