How to Find Value on College Football Player Props

Quarterback Ian Book #12 of Notre Dame. Carmen Mandato/Getty Images/AFP

It won’t be long now before we will be watching the schoolboys play football from Saturday morning until deep into the night. But what makes watching even better is cashing our college football picks. Let’s discuss player props below.

Avoid Rookie Mistakes

You don’t have to be a novice to make rookie mistakes because we have all done it, haven’t we? Whether it’s taking a bad line that ultimately comes back to bite you or thinking you got the better of your bookie because your team had home-field advantage, only to find out the game is being played at a neutral site. You should know better, and most of the time you do, but every once in a while, a slow ground ball gets through the wickets and you have no idea why.

When betting player props the same thing can happen. It is important to check the injury report, right? Now that’s more than obvious but I can’t tell you how many times I have heard seasoned bettors cuss like a sailor when the featured running back they bet having over 100 yards is sitting on the sidelines nursing a late knee injury.

That is also the risk you run when betting player props early in the week because these kids practice during the week and that’s when injuries can happen. But when scouring the injury list, it is important to think about the backups who will be getting plenty of playing time due to the starter being sidelined. Jump on those early numbers because they won’t last long.

Matchups Make All the Difference

Let’s give a few examples of what a prop bet looks like and how to determine value using last year’s Rose Bowl clash between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Ian Book (Notre Dame) – Passing Yards

  • Over 248.5 (-110)
  • Under 248.5 (-110)

Hindsight is always 20/20 but when we look back at the college football odds on Ian Book against a ferocious Alabama defense that had been to the CFP about as often as my drunk uncle visits his favorite barroom then it seems betting him to get over 249 yards passing is a bit steep.

Now let’s understand, Bama’s pass defense was not as strong as it had been in recent years, allowing an average of 239.2 yards per game, but Book was averaging 235 yards per game and that included racking up stats against inferior opponents, of which the Crimson Tide was not one.

Therefore, shouldn’t the under in this prop have looked appealing? Well, if you shook your head in agreement then you are on the right track because Book tossed 229 yards which fell short of the 248.5 total. Under won the day here as it should have.

Mac Jones (Alabama) – Passing Yards

  • Over 354.5 (-110)
  • Under 354.5 (-110)

Mac Jones was rumored to be going third overall to the San Francisco 49ers in last April’s NFL Draft but he ultimately fell to No. 15 where the New England Patriots eagerly selected him in the opening round. And the reason he was so highly touted is that Nick Saban gave Jones the keys to the car that was the Alabama offense last season and he drove it like a champ, as the Tide went undefeated and recorded yet another national championship.

In their CFP semifinal game in the Rose Bowl against Notre Dame, Jones was averaging over 321 passing yards per game and the bookmakers were well aware the public would be burying the over on the highly touted Jones, which is why the number was so high.

However, the Irish were ranked fourth in the nation and owned a defense surrendering an average of 230 passing yards per game. And now we see that Jones is supposed to torch them for over 354 yards? Huh? An under bet on Jones’ passing yards looked even more appealing than the under on Notre Dame’s Ian Book.

The Crimson Tide would go on to throttle the Irish, 31-14, but Jones would throw for 297 passing yards, well short of the 354.5. No surprise there but an excellent opportunity to make money in this game.

Just remember, not all of your college football bets need to be sides and totals. The player props, when studied, can often render even greater value. The props are far less scrutinized by the books because they don’t get nearly as much action on them. So exploit that weakness and turn it to your advantage!

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