Craven's Bets: Week 3 headlined by Texas vs. UTSA; Texas A&M at home against Miami

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Week 2 provided viewers with one of the wildest Saturdays in recent college football memory. In the state of Texas alone there were three FBS games that went into overtime. Texas also lost at home to Alabama by one point with seemingly the whole world watching, while Texas A&M hit a road bump against Sun Belt contender App State. Can Week 3 top those fireworks? Craven's Corner was 4-4-1 in Week 2, suffering a few bad beats along the way such as Baylor not cashing at +3.5 despite reaching a second overtime period against BYU and UTEP not covering -14 despite a 17-0 lead at halftime against a winless New Mexico State program. We did go 7-1 in Week 1, however, so we're still paying the books with its own money. 

GAMES OF THE WEEK

Texas A&M vs. Miami 
Viewing info: 
Saturday at 8 p.m. on ESPN
Gambling odds: Texas A&M -5.5; O/U 45

The Aggies enter a crossroads in the primetime matchup against nationally ranked Miami, led by first-year head coach Mario Cristobal. The Hurricanes enter the contest at 2-0 with lopsided wins over overmatched Bethune and Southern Miss. A trip to College Station is the first true test for quarterback Tyler Van Dyke and an offense averaging 50 points and 518 yards of offense per game through two weeks. The defense is only allowing 10 points. 

Texas A&M lost at home in Week 2 to App State when the offense managed 38 plays and fewer than 100 passing yards through the air. Running back Devon Achane is the only reason the Aggies kept it close – scoring on a 26-yard touchdown run and a 90-plus yard kickoff return. Haynes King was 13 of 20 for 97 yards in the loss. The Longview native has thrown for as many interceptions (5) as touchdowns in four career starts. 

On Craven’s Corner, we fade the public and react to overreactions to gambling odds. Miami is 2-0 because of its schedule, so we’re not sure if the Hurricanes are any good or not. We do know that Texas A&M will enter this night game at Kyle Field in front of a ruckus crowd and with a desire to quiet doubters. I’d imagine Jimbo Fisher is equally motivated to shut up the numerous critics, including us, who wrote stories about his offense’s performance after Week 2. Give me the Aggies by more than a touchdown. This line opened at Texas A&M -5 and is moving up, so the sharps agree. We also lean towards the over because it is so low. 

Craven’s Bet: Texas A&M -5.5 

UTSA at Texas 
Viewing info: 
Saturday at 7 p.m. on Longhorn Network
Gambling odds: Texas -12.5; O/U 61.5

The Texas Longhorns team that nearly upset Alabama would roll to at least a two-touchdown win over a UTSA squad that’s already played five overtime periods in 2022. But can we assume a Texas program that’s played to the level of its competition for over a decade now will put together an inspired performance two weeks in a row? Gearing up for a home game against Alabama in front of a sold out DKR with ESPN Gameday in town is an easier proprosition than renewing that same energy the next week against a G5 program with a 1-1 record. I know the stands won’t be as excited as Week 2. What about the players? We’re about to learn a lot about Texas’ maturity in year two under Steve Sarkisian.

And that’s before we even look at the on-field concerns for Texas. Sarkisian got a little testy during the digital press conference on Thursday as the locals hammered him about the quarterback situation. Quinn Ewers was forced out of the Alabama loss with a clavicle injury. Backup Hudson Card was clearly limited with a leg injury in relief, limping to the finish in an admirable performance. Sarkisian wouldn’t give any hints on if Card would be healthy for Week 3, saying “if I wanted (the media) to know who was getting the snaps, I’d let you come to practice.” Ewers is out, so if Card can’t go then Austin High product Charles Wright likely starts. Either way, expect Roschon Johnson to field plenty of wild-cat snaps on Saturday. 

The Roadrunners lost in triple overtime to Houston in Week 1 before bouncing back in Week 2 with a double overtime victory over Army. Quarterback Frank Harris was the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week after both games. The sixth-year senior has completed 60 of 88 passes for 696 yards and six touchdowns to just one interception through two weeks. He’s also leading the Roadrunners in rushing with 93 yards and a touchdown. With the running game struggling, Harris and an impressive trio of wide receivers must do the work for UTSA. The problem for the Roadrunners is that their starting left and right tackles are out of the game. 

Craven’s Bet: UTSA +12.5

Texas Tech at N.C. State 
Viewing info: 
Saturday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2
Gambling odds: Texas Tech +10; O/U 56

The Red Raiders are one of only three in-state FBS programs with a winning record. The other two are SMU and TCU. Texas Tech is 2-0 entering its first road test of the Joey McGuire era after outlasting Houston at home in double overtime in Week 2. Donovan Smith, who entered the season as a backup behind the injured Tyler Shough, was 36 for 58 for 350 yards and two touchdowns to three interceptions. He also ran the ball 20 times and scored the game-winning touchdown in the second overtime period. He wasn’t perfect, but his gutsy performance earned the Las Vegas native Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors. Texas A&M is averaging 48 points per game on offense. Linebacker Krishon Merriweather is leading an improved and opportunistic defensive unit. 

NC State avoided a Week 1 scare against East Carolina and then beatdown Charlotte Southern 55-3 in Week 2. The Wolfpack entered 2022 with high expectations in a wide-open ACC. The 21-20 over East Carolina put some of those expectations on ice. Quarterback Devin Leary is considered an NFL prospect by many. The junior has thrown for 449 yards and five scores through two games. NC State averages 38 points per game with a well-balanced attack entering the matchup. The defense is the strength of the team, however, with NC State allowing just 11.5 points per so far. 

Craven's Bet: N.C. State -10

QUICK BETS 

SMU at Maryland 
Viewing info: 
Saturday at 6:30 p.m. on FS1
Gambling odds: SMU +3.5; O/U 74

The Mustangs travel to Maryland for their first true test under head coach Rhett Lashlee. SMU coasted to victories over future AAC rival North Texas in Week 1 and FCS opponent Lamar in Week 2. The passing connection between quarterback Tanner Mordecai and wide receiver Rashee Rice is lethal. Rice has 17 catches for 298 yards and three scores through two games. The Mustangs are also averaging 179 rushing yards per outing. The best news, though, is the play on defense. SMU has only allowed 13 points per game. 

The Maryland offense will test the theory that SMU is improving on offense. Starting quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa is one of the only quarterbacks on the schedule who can match Mordecai as a pure passer. The Terrapins averaged 43.5 points and 529 yards per game through two wins. 

Craven’s Bet: Over 74

Texas State at Baylor 
Viewing info: 
Saturday at 11 a.m. on FS1
Gambling odds: Baylor -30; O/U 51.5

Baylor should roll, but the question is by how much? Dave Aranda doesn’t strike me as a guy needing to blowout lesser opponents to build confidence. I’d imagine the Bears play a methodical, mature game in an easy win, but 30 points is a lot to give up. My advice is to stay away from the money line and bet the over/under if a wager is must between these two teams. 

The Bears lost in double overtime to future Big 12 opponent BYU in a game that quarterback Blake Shapen and the passing offense struggled. Texas State bounced back from a deflating performance in Week 1 with a big win over FIU. Running back Calvin Hill nearly topped 200 yards rushing. 

Craven’s Bet: Over 51.5

North Texas at UNLV
Viewing info: 
Saturday at 2 p.m. on Mountain West Network 
Gambling odds: North Texas +3; O/U 62

North Texas hasn’t won an out-of-conference road game since 2018. The Mean Green must rely on a strong road game and a solid defense to win a matchup against 1-1 UNLV. North Texas is already 2-1 thanks to a Week 1 win over UTEP and a Week 3 win against Texas Southern. Seth Littrell’s team always plays well against the Miners, so there are plenty of concerns for the Mean Green ahead of their trip to Las Vegas. Picking a C-USA team to win road games against teams from other conferences is always a scary proposition. 

Craven’s Bet: North Texas +3, Over 62

Houston vs. Kansas 
Viewing info: 
Saturday at 3 p.m. on ESPNU
Gambling odds: Houston -9; O/U 57.5

Don’t laugh as you’re reading this, but Kansas is legit. Okay, maybe legit is the wrong word, but this isn’t your older brother’s Kansas. These guys can play. This is a respectable Power Five program that just knocked off West Virginia to start Big 12 play at 1-0. Momentum is riding high for an undefeated Kansas team that’s scoring 55.5 points a game on offense. The next goal for the Jayhawks is to remind the Cougars that an introduction into Big 12 football won’t be easy. 

Houston limps into its first home game of the season thanks to back-to-back overtimes. The Cougars played in five overtime periods through the first two weeks of the season – a Week 1 win over UTSA and a Week 2 loss at Texas Tech. The offense hasn’t looked sharp in the first half, totaling just 10 combined points in four quarters of play. A wide receiver other than Nathaniel Dell needs to step up to provide more options for Clayton Tune and the passing attack. Defensive lineman Derek Parish recorded 4.5 sacks against Texas Tech. 

Craven’s Bet: Over 57.5

Rice vs. Louisiana
Viewing info: 
Saturday at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN+ 
Gambling odds: Rice +12; O/U 50.5

Rice’s non-conference schedule is brutal and that continues in Week 2 with a home game against Louisiana. The Owls rebounded from a Week 1 defeat at USC in Lincoln Riley’s West Coast debut before returning to Houston to knock off FCS opponent McNeese State, 52-0. The bad news for Mike Bloomgren’s team is that Louisiana and Houston remain before the start of C-USA play. 

Craven’s Bet: Under 50.5

UTEP at New Mexico 
Viewing info: 
Saturday at 7 p.m. on Mountain West Network
Gambling odds: UTEP -3; O/U 39 

I went from driving the UTEP preseason hype bus to jumping off by Week 3. Gambling, and prognostication, doesn’t allow for pride. The Miners burned me in Week 1 with a disappointing second-half performance at home against North Texas. They did the same thing in the Week 2 win over New Mexico State when UTEP almost blew a 17-0 halftime lead in a 20-13 win. We do have a few rules on the Corner, though, and one is to always bet the over on any college game set under 40. Rules are rules. This isn’t Nam. 

Craven’s Bet: New Mexico +3; Over 39

 

 

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