The final week of the 2021 regular season is upon us with three games involving Texas FBS programs on Friday. The rest are in action on Saturday during an important Week 13 for most programs in the Lone Star State. Texas needs to stop a losing skid. Baylor is hoping for a spot in the Big 12 title game. One more win would make TCU bowl eligible. And Texas A&M can do something its yet to achieve as an SEC program.
Lines provided by Bovada.
Texas vs. Kansas State, Friday, 11 a.m., FOX
Line: Texas -3, O/U 52
Preview: The Longhorns hope to stop a six-game losing streak in a home contest against a pesky Kansas State squad. Texas hasn’t won since Oct. 2 against TCU. An extra cause of concern for Steve Sarkisian’s group is health at the quarterback position with Casey Thompson and Hudson Card nursing injuries headed into the final week of regular season. A win does keep Texas’ bowl hopes alive because there might not be enough 6-6 teams to fill each of the available spots. Kansas State’s offense is led by Round Rock native Deuce Vaughn.
Craven’s wager: Kansas State +3
UTEP at UAB, Friday, 1 p.m., ESPN+
Line: UTEP +13.5, O/U 50
Preview: The Miners stopped a three-game losing streak with a 38-28 win over Rice. UTEP outscored the Owls 24-7 in the second half to earn its seventh victory of the season and lock in a bowl invite. Gavin Hardison threw for a career high 366 yards, including 170 to wide receiver Jacob Cowing in the win. UTEP needs that same type of offensive production to pull an upset on the road against UAB. The good news for the Miners is that UAB must be reeling from a last-second loss at UTSA in Week 12. UTEP must stop the big-play ability of the UAB passing game while shutting down DeWayne McBride and the rushing attack.
Craven’s wager: UTEP +14 (buy the hook)
TCU at Iowa State, Friday, 3:30 p.m., FS1
Line: TCU +14.5, O/U 58.5
Preview: One more win provides TCU with its sixth win and bowl eligibility, which would be a nice cherry on top for the Horned Frogs’ next head coach. Folks in Fort Worth are more concerned with who will be the next head coach more so than if TCU can end the season with an upset win over Iowa State. Max Duggan returned from injury last week in a win over Kansas, but TCU relied heavily on the run game to scrape past the Jayhawks. TCU will need more through the air to upset Iowa State. The Cyclones are on a two-game losing streak and don’t have much to play for. TCU can keep this close if Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy throws an interception or two.
Craven’s wager: TCU +14.5
Texas Tech at Baylor, Saturday, 11 a.m., FS1
Line: Baylor -14, O/U 52
Preview: Baylor must win to keep hopes alive for a Big 12 championship appearance. The Bears are likely without starting quarterback Gerry Bohanon after he hurt his hamstring in the win over Kansas State last week. Blake Shapen, a freshman, completed 16 of his 21 passes for 137 yards in relief. The quarterback might not matter for Baylor because the Bears should focus their efforts on running the ball against Texas Tech. The Red Raiders allow 141.2 rushing yards a game, and the Baylor offense relies heavily on the running back duo of Abram Smith and Tresten Ebner. Texas Tech was shutout last week in a loss to Oklahoma State. Give me Baylor to win, but not by more than two touchdowns.
Craven’s wager: Texas Tech +14
Houston at UConn, Saturday, 11 a.m., CBSSN
Line: Houston -32.5, O/U 56.5
Preview: This matchup should serve as a glorified bye week ahead of the AAC title game, which will likely be at Cincinnati. The Houston Cougars are on a 10-game winning streak following a Week 1 loss to Texas Tech. UConn is 1-10 on the season with its lone win coming against Yale. Houston quarterback Clayton Tune has thrown for 2,712 yards and 22 touchdowns to only eight interceptions on the season. The defense, led by the defensive line, averages more than three sacks a game. Cornerback Marcus Jones has recorded an interception in each of the previous four games. I’d suggest avoiding this game as a gambler because Houston is likely to rest some starters for the entire game, or at least pull up on the reigns with a lead in the second half to avoid any risk a week ahead of the biggest game of the season.
Craven’s wager: Houston -32.5
Rice vs. Louisiana Tech, Saturday, 12 p.m., ESPN+
Line: Louisiana Tech -3.5, O/U 52.5
Preview: Two 3-8 teams square off to finish the regular season when Rice hosts La Tech. The Owls could easily be 5-6 heading into Week 13 if not for two losses in overtime during the month of October. The Owls are on a four-game losing streak despite improved play from quarterback Jake Constantine. His favorite target is Jake Bailey, who has 56 catches for 714 yards and two touchdowns on the season. La Tech has only won once since Sept. 25.
Craven’s wager: Rice +3.5
UTSA at North Texas, Saturday, 1 p.m., ESPN+
Line: UTSA -10.5, O/U 59.5
Preview: The Roadrunners clinched the West Division of Conference USA in the last seconds of a Week 12 win over UAB. Frank Harris found Oscar Cardenas for a one-yard touchdown with three seconds remaining in the game to keep UTSA’s perfect season alive. A trip to Denton should prove challenging, however, despite the two records. North Texas was once 1-6 before its current four-game winning streak. One more win for the Mean Green equates to bowl eligibility. North Texas’ run game, led by Deandre Torrey, is clicking down the stretch of the season.
Craven’s wager: North Texas +10.5
Texas State at Arkansas State, Saturday, 1 p.m., ESPN+
Line: Texas State +2, O/U 61.5
Preview: Texas State could use a win before heading into the offseason. Tyler Vitt has emerged as the quarterback of choice down the stretch for the Bobcats. Two of Texas State’s three wins in 2021 came in overtime. The Bobcats are on a two-game losing streak following a 35-21 defeat at Coastal Carolina. Texas State did average 5.9 yards a carry in that game with Calvin Hill leading the way with 100 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Craven’s wager: Texas State +2
SMU vs. Tulsa, Saturday, 3 p.m., ESPN2
Line: SMU -6.5, O/U 62
Preview: The Mustangs are limping to the finish line in 2021, which is an unfortunate trend for SMU during the Sonny Dykes tenure. The team started 7-0 but are 1-3 over its last four games as rumors continue to swirl around Dykes’ future in Dallas. Reports suggest that he’ll be the next head coach of the TCU Horned Frogs after the completion of the regular season. That means Saturday is likely the last game for SMU with Dykes in charge. Will that inspire SMU towards one more win, or will the distractions lead to another loss?
Craven’s wager: Tulsa +6.5
Texas A&M at LSU, Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN
Line: Texas A&M -6.5, O/U 45.5
Preview: Texas A&M should earn its first win at Tiger Stadium as an SEC program on Saturday night. LSU is without a head coach and a stout defense with the Aggies coming to town. Jimbo Fisher has continually denied reports suggesting that he’s flirted with the LSU opening, and a way to further dispel those rumors is to beatdown the Tigers in Baton Rouge. Texas A&M should ride the running back tandem of Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane to limit the potential mistakes by quarterback Zach Calzada. LSU is allowing 25.5 points a game in 2021.
Craven’s wager: Texas A&M -6.5
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