10 College Football Prop Bets You Need to Take in 2017
Published on August 11, 2017
Some people don’t like betting futures props because they can tie up your bankroll for several months as you wait for the season to end and the outcomes of your wagers to be decided.
That may be true, but futures props also tie up your attention for that entire length of time. I love how 1 simple futures prop bet can give you something to cheer for every week of the season, whether it’s a team to earn a victory towards its season win total or a quarterback to get a few touchdown passes closer to cashing your Over bet. And that’s not to mention the juicy odds you can get on some of these props.
Bovada has already put up a ton of prop betting lines for the upcoming college football season. Here are 10 of my favorites for 2017:
There’s simply way too much value on the Cardinal here to pass up. I know Stanford has lost 2 huge stars in running back Christian McCaffrey and defensive end Solomon Thomas, but this bet has more to do with head coach David Shaw than it does with the players that are returning this season.
Shaw wins games, period. In 5 of his 6 years at Stanford, the Cardinal has cracked double digits in victories. He also churns out tremendous defenses season after season, and Stanford has a lot of returning veterans on that side of the ball.
They’ve also got a great schedule. Their only really difficult road game is at USC early in the year. Plus, Stanford gets to host Washington this season in a game that could very easily end up deciding who wins the North Division and advances to the Pac-12 championship.
If Stanford gets to the conference championship game, it would still have to beat out the South champion, quite possibly a USC Trojans team that begins the season as one of the top contenders for a national title. But I’ll gladly take my chances at an 8:1 return with a Cardinal program that has already won 3 Pac-12 titles in the last 6 years.
Coaching was a big reason I liked a bet on Stanford, and I’m going to continue with that train of thought here by backing the Spartans to have a bounce-back year under one of the best coaches in college football.
Michigan State’s woeful 3-9 showing in 2016 was the first time in Mark Dantonio’s 10-year tenure in East Lansing that the Spartans failed to go to a bowl game. Basically, everything went wrong for Michigan State, and that extends to off the field where sexual assault arrests and other things have led to the departure of 7 would-be starters this year.
Dantonio will be determined to clean the program up, and he’s already got some of the tools to do it. Sparty has one of the top running back tandems in the country, their defense was 32nd in scoring average against last year, and sophomore quarterback Brian Lewerke is already drawing comparisons to former Michigan State stars Kirk Cousins and Connor Cook.
Lewerke actually looked pretty good as a freshman last year before breaking his leg 4 games into the season. I think both he and a Michigan State team that lost 3 games last year by 4 points or less are very underrated commodities going into this season.
The Big 10 is probably the deepest conference in college football. Just last year, the conference featured 10 bowl-eligible teams, including a national semifinalist and participants in the Outback Bowl, Cotton Bowl and Rose Bowl. Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State are all
But most of that power and depth is in the Big 10 East. The West Division is a much different story, where the Badgers are -125 favorites to finish atop the standings. Considering how consistently good Wisconsin is year after year (8 wins or more in 8 straight seasons and 12 of the last 13), that price looks like a pretty good bargain.
They’ve got a returning quarterback, tons of experience on both the offensive and defensive lines, and quality receivers and tight ends. Wisky will start a new running back, but they always run the ball well in that system and I’m confident that either Bradrick Shaw or Chris James won’t have any issues doing the same.
A friendly conference schedule also helps Wisconsin’s cause. Their toughest games in conference are a visit to Nebraska (+600 to win the West) and a home game versus Michigan. Nebraska needs to face both Ohio State and Penn State this year, while the Badgers’ other top challenger in the West, Northwestern, has to play Penn State as well as travel to Wisconsin.
It’s basically a 2-horse race in the SEC East between Florida and Georgia, with the Bulldogs the slight favorite at +130 odds. I guess you could also throw Tennessee into the mix at +400 odds, but Kentucky, South Carolina, Missouri and Vanderbilt all pay +2000 or higher and are obviously non-factors in the division race.
Assuming the Gators just need to beat out Georgia in the East, Florida’s already got a pretty nice advantage when it comes to the schedule. Though neither team has to play Alabama, the Bulldogs have Auburn on their calendar while Florida does not. The Gators’ toughest conference games will be at home (LSU and Tennessee), while Georgia has to visit Tennessee and Auburn.
Even if the battle for the East comes down to the Florida/Georgia clash Oct. 28 on a neutral field in Jacksonville, I like the Gators’ chances there. Florida has won the last 3 meetings between the rivals and 21 of the last 27.
Finally, the Gators have had an excellent defense for years (top 15 in the country in each of the last 15 years), and this year they might finally have a quarterback to go with it. As of early August, the Gators had yet to name a starter, but that’s only because they have 3 quality options that are making it difficult to choose.
The Eagles aren’t exactly the most fun team to watch in college football. Last year, they won 7 games (including a bowl win over Maryland) despite ranking outside the top 100 in the NCAA in total yards, passing yards and points scored.
The reason the Eagles were able to win that many games was their defense. BC was 9th in the country in total yards against and 7th against the run. Nearly the entire front 7 from that great defense is back again this year.
So why are we getting a 7-win team from last year at a 4-win total in 2017? Well, BC’s schedule is a minefield, including trips to Louisville and Clemson as well as home games versus Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Florida State and NC State.
But I still see quite a few winnable games on BC’s schedule. They start the year at the MAC’s Northern Illinois, then host Wake Forest, so the Eagles might just get 2 wins right out of the gate. They’d still have Virginia and another MAC opponent in Central Michigan on their schedule, plus they end the year with games against Connecticut and Syracuse. With this defense, BC should be in contention to win all of those games.
The Mid-Atlantic Conference has produced some pretty good teams in recent years, but their 0-7 record in bowl games last season indicate that the conference is on its way down.
That includes defending champion Western Michigan, which now has to rebuild with a new head coach, a new quarterback and a new #1 receiver. The Broncos still have a decent veteran defense, but their off-season losses open the door wide open for the other top contender in the conference, Toledo, to claim its first MAC title since 2004.
The Rockets should live up to their explosive nickname on offense, featuring the top quarterback in the conference in senior Logan Woodside as well as arguably the top receiving corps. They’ve also got a nice returning cast on defense, and they’ll have home field advantage when they face Western Michigan to end the season.
With no other team in the MAC paying lower than +900 odds to win the conference, beating out the Broncos should be Toledo’s only worry en route to the conference title at a nice plus-money return.
I have to admit, I’m not completely sold on the Oklahoma Sooners as a national title hopeful this year. I’m a bit concerned about the head coaching transition from Bob Stoops to 33-year-old Lincoln Riley, and Oklahoma State looks like a pretty big threat to upset the Sooners and win the Big 12.
However, you don’t need to win a national title to win the Heisman. In fact, just 2 of the last 6 Heisman Trophy winners were from teams that claimed the college football championship. And whether the Sooners win it all this year or not, I expect Mayfield to get noticed for the huge numbers he puts up in this offense.
Mayfield is already on the minds of Heisman voters, finishing third last season. In his 2 previous seasons at Oklahoma, he’s thrown 76 touchdowns and just 15 interceptions. He’s a lethal threat both through the air and on the ground, and this year he’ll be protected by a tremendous veteran offensive line.
The Sooners’ loss of 2 veteran running backs may actually help Mayfield’s Heisman chances as well, as he could be relied on more than ever. And with Oklahoma transitioning to a different scheme this year on defense, the Sooners may need to put up more points than usual in order to get the job done.
This almost feels a little too easy. Browning threw for 43 touchdowns last year as a sophomore, so why shouldn’t we expect him to put up similar numbers now that he’s going into his third year as the Washington starter? Well, before you take out a second mortgage to load up on this line, there are 3 reasons to be a bit cautious about Browning’s potential for this year.
First, he struggled badly down the stretch last season, going 9-of-24 for 118 yards in the Pac-12 championship game versus Colorado, then throwing for just 150 yards and two interceptions in the national semifinal against Alabama. Second, he underwent shoulder surgery in January. And third, he comes into the year with plenty of expectations as a Heisman candidate on a team with national title hopes.
However, it seems reasonable to me to pin some of Browning’s late-season struggles on the shoulder that required him to go under the knife. He’s shrugged off the surgery and already says he feels back to 100%, and he’s paid greater attention to health and nutrition during his offseason training. Browning also seems very mature and poised, making me believe he’s got the type of mental aptitude necessary to handle the pressure.
There aren’t that many tough defenses in the Pac-12 to slow down Browning and the Huskies, and he should get off to a nice start to the season with early non-conference contests versus Rutgers, Montana and Fresno State. Browning may not equal last year’s lofty numbers, but I think he can get to at least 36 passing TDs with ease.
Betting Unders on season win totals isn’t always fun, but I love doing it with public favorites like the Wolverines. A lot of people will bet the Over on season win totals no matter how high the line is, so oddsmakers often inflate them a bit.
Not that I think this number is that inflated. Michigan won 10 games last year, so 9 doesn’t look like that high of a bar to clear. But the Wolverines are still overrated in my opinion, considering that they’ve basically lost their entire defense from 2016. They also have holes to fill on offense, where they’ve lost their top 2 receivers and best tight end, have a rebuilt offensive line and replaced their passing coordinator.
Having all those new faces in the lineup could immediately hurt the Wolverines as they kick off the season with a tough neutral-field game against Florida. Even if Michigan finds a way to win that game, it has to visit defending Big 10 champ Penn State and conference finalist Wisconsin, host Ohio State to end the regular season and also face a Michigan State squad that always gives the Wolverines problems.
A lot needs to go right for Michigan to simply get to 9 wins this year, making the +120 return on the Under great value.
Washington has been right around this number in each of the last 2 seasons, hauling in 10 touchdown passes in both 2015 and 2016. Now, he’s the main man in an Oklahoma State offense that is expected to light up the scoreboards this season.
What I love about Washington is his big-play ability. His average of 19.4 yards per catch led all FBS receivers (minimum 70 receptions), and he’s got an NFL prospect throwing him the football in Mason Rudolph. Washington himself is on the radar of NFL teams, currently projected as a late first-round pick in next year’s draft.
I do worry a bit that there are too many other weapons in the Cowboys’ offense that could take away from Washington’s trips to the end zone. But at an Over/Under of 10.5, we don’t need a significant jump from his previous production. Hauling in just 1 more TD reception than each of the past 2 years will be enough to cash this ticket, making it more than worthy of a wager in my opinion.