Online gaming service Bovada yesterday put out a boatload of player prop bets for the upcoming college football season. These bets generally stink, offering odds wildly incommensurate to their level of risk. Will that stop anyone from playing them (for entertainment purposes only)? Of course not.
Since you’re going to do it anyway, here are five props worth considering. (Note: These are based on the 12-game regular season.)
1. SEC: Who will have more rushing yards? Mike Davis (+210)
Let’s start on this one by eliminating three of the options right off the bat. Alabama chews up yards on the ground, but T.J. Yeldon (+255) will likely see his touches siphoned off by teammates Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry. Given Tre Mason’s productivity, Auburn’s Cameron Artis-Payne (+350) presents an intriguing option; however, he’s also competing with a host of weapons in that offense. Again, Arkansas’ timeshare between talented youngster Alex Collins and junior Jonathan Williams (+375) is a situation to avoid.
That leaves South Carolina’s Davis and Georgia’s Todd Gurley (+175). This comes down to the focus of the Gamecocks offense this year. With quarterback Connor Shaw and wideout Bruce Ellington out of the picture, look for Steve Spurrier to rely on Davis and a veteran offensive line to bludgeon opponents to death this year. That gives him an edge over Gurley at that price.
2. Big 12: Who will have more receiving yards? Jakeem Grant (+250)
Grant, Texas Tech’s diminutive slot receiver, is one of the more underrated offensive players in the country playing in a wide open offense. He finished sixth in receiving yards per game in the Big 12 last year – behind two of his own teammates, Jace Amaro and Eric Ward.
With those two lost to graduation, more of Tech’s offense will likely consolidate in Grant’s hands this season. Davis Webb has reportedly taken his play up a notch under center this offseason, which also works in Grant’s favor.
3. Ty Montgomery over 9.5 receiving touchdowns (-120)
A year ago, Montgomery grabbed 10 TDs in 14 games, which works out to roughly 8.5 in a 12-game season. The bet, therefore, is whether or not he can up that by 1.5 TDs this season.
While Stanford has become one of the most physical, ground-centric offenses in the country, David Shaw should be putting more of the offense on junior quarterback Kevin Hogan and his receivers this year. The Cardinal are replacing the interior of their offensive line, and the potential replacements for workhorse running back Tylor Gaffney haven’t shown signs that they’re up to carrying the same load this season.
Montgomery’s numbers should benefit by becoming a bigger focal point in the O this year. Bet the over on TDs.
4. Nick Marshall under 2800 total rushing and passing yards (-110)
Marshall averaged 234.2 yards of total offense per game last season, which works out to 2,810 yards in 12 games. Can he match that this season?
You could argue that with a year in Gus Malzahn’s prolific offense, Marshall should be in better position to steer the ship the ship. The problem, however, lies in the schedule. The Tigers replace a home game against Washington State and the Cougars’ pedestrian defense with a trip to Kansas State and the Wildcats’ less pedestrian D. Auburn also trades a game against the Tennessee turnstile for a matchup with South Carolina’s rugged D.
Bottom line: It’s tough to envision Marshall keeping pace with last year’s output.
5. Bryce Petty under 30.5 touchdown passes (-110)
Baylor’s offensive pyrotechnics of years past make this look like an easy over bet, no? Not so fast my friend.
Again, this is essentially a bet that the Baylor’s gunslinger will match his output from last season (2.5 TD passes per game, or 29.5 total). That falls in line with what Baylor QBs have done since the program really kicked its offense into high gear in 2010. During that period, the Bears’ starting QBs have tossed touchdowns at a high enough rate to exceed 30.5 just once (Robert Griffin in 2011).
Also, Petty faces a scheduling issue much like Marshall. If you can believe it, Baylor’s candy-ass non-conference slate is actually harder than last season, especially when you factor in a 1,500-mile road trip to Buffalo. (Who set that up?) In Big 12 play, the Bears have to make trips to the league outposts of Iowa State and West Virginia, and they face Oklahoma and Texas on the road.
The Bears feel like a team to fade in general this year. That includes Petty.