With the season less than a week away, nothing gets my juices going quite like checking out all the prop bets. I would not take these to the bank, as prop bets are typically losing propositions. Nonetheless, here we go!
1. Let’s start with a couple of potential Heisman winners. So, the Heisman winner, to me, is never simply the best player in the country. It is the best player combined with being on one of the best teams in the country. Sure there are some easy choices (Trevone Boykin, whoever becomes Ohio State’s QB, etc.). But, for fun… let’s roll with Baylor QB Seth Russell at +3300. If Baylor wins the Big 12, as I believe they will, then Russell will have a huge season. He has some of the best wide receivers in the country (K.D. Cannon and Corey Coleman), along with a strong running game and a great offensive line led by tackle Spencer Drango. While some believe Russell may be the piece holding back Baylor this season, I don’t believe it. He knows Art Briles’ system, and if the Bears go 11-1 or 12-0, he will be on the stage in New York City this December.
2. Another Heisman candidate: Michigan State QB Connor Cook: +2500. In the loaded Big Ten East Division, Michigan State is the only team with a chance to knock off Ohio State. The Spartans have a huge early season matchup against Oregon, which with a win, could put Cook right into the National spotlight for the rest of the season.
3. Will a 2-loss team make the College Football Playoff? Yes +170. Obviously Vegas thinks this isn’t likely to happen, but at nearly 2/1 odds, I like the bet. The SEC West is such a jumbled mess, with all 7 teams capable of winning the division, that it’s likely a 2-loss team makes it to the conference title game. Then, I believe, whoever comes out of the West will beat the winner of the mediocre East. So, naturally, the committee, won’t have the balls to not put an SEC team in the CFB Playoff, so they will give us the 2-loss West team. They have too. The committee is as ridiculously obsessed with the conference as the national media is (remember week 1 of the playoff standings last October? 3 SEC West teams in the Top 4).
4. Will two teams from the same Conference make the Playoff? No -500. This might seem like a fairly obvious bet… so, yea, I guess it is. But, seems like easy money to me, even at 1/5. With independents like Notre Dame and BYU having potential shots at the Playoff, the SEC likely to have a couple of 1 or 2-loss teams at the top, there are too many contenders to justify two from one conference making the 4-team field.
5. Texas Longhorns under 6.5 wins: +120. Sorry, UT fans. But, with so many question marks, specifically on offense, along with a tough non-conference schedule, I don’t see 7 wins. I can find five fairly easy losses on the schedule: Notre Dame, TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma. So, that would mean UT needs to win every other game to go over the 6.5. Sure, you can make an argument UT could beat OU or OSU, but then they could not afford to stumble with a tough road game at West Virginia, or home against a potentially much improved Tech squad. It’s going to be tough in Austin.
6. South Carolina: Over 6.5 wins: – 130. The two teams the Gamecocks will play out of the West division are LSU and A&M. They avoid Bama, Auburn and Arkansas. They open the season with 3 of 4 home games, all winnable (UNC, Kentucky, UCF), with a tough road test at Georgia week 3. They should be 3-1 after September, throw in a guaranteed FCS win against Citadel late, and then find me 3 more wins in 6 games? I like the odds. Also, I like betting on Steve Spurrier, especially when he’s being counted out (which many people seem to be doing).
7. Nebraska: Under 8 wins: +120. Even in the much easier Big Ten West, I think year one will be a tough go of it for new head coach Mike Riley. The Cornhuskers return only 12 starters and have lost Ameer Abdullah and Randy Gregory. Nebraska could find themselves 2-2 before even starting Big 10 play, with tricky games against BYU and at Miami. Their Big Ten slate is easy, but that would require a 7-1 run (with a likely guaranteed loss against Michigan State), to reach the over at 9 wins.
8. BYU: over 8 wins: +145. BYU is one of my national title dark horse contenders. The Cougars bring back a Heisman contender at QB in Taysom Hill, a top RB in Jamaal Williams, and 5 offensive lineman with starting experience. The question marks are on defense. BYU opens up with a tough schedule: Nebraska, Boise State, UCLA and Michigan. At worst, they go 2-2. That leaves 7-wins to cover the 8, with a fairly easy stretch from October to the end of the season.
9. Arizona State: +1400 to make the CFB Playoff. In a loaded South Division, can the Sun Devils be the team to make their way to the Conference Title Game and then a 4-team playoff? ASU loses QB Taylor Kelly and WR Jaelen Strong, but I don’t think they’ll miss a beat with Mike Bercovici stepping in at QB, and Cameron Smith moving up to replace Strong. Also, the defense returns most of it’s core. In addition, ASU has their toughest games at home, USC (Sept. 26), Oregon (Oct. 29), Arizona (Nov. 21). If ASU opens the season 4-0, that would include wins over A&M and USC, the following week at UCLA on October 3rd is going to be must-watch.
10. My ultimate long shot, sleeper: Oklahoma State: +10000 to make the CFB Playoff. No, I don’t think they will actually make the playoff. But, at such massive odds, why not? They are the team in the Big 12 that could shock TCU and Baylor this fall to take the Conference. After a ton of momentum heading into the offseason, OSU has found their new leader and QB in Mason Rudolph, along with 4 returning starters on the offensive line. Then, on defense, Emmanuel Ogbah could be in the running for the Bednarik Award. The schedule is back loaded, with a November slate of: TCU, @ Iowa State, Baylor, OU. But, notice the three tough games … at all home. The backloaded schedule, with the toughest tests at home, works out beautifully for a team that is still relatively young, but has a ton of talent.
So … I certainly wouldn’t bet the mortgage on any of these. But hey, it’s always good to have a prop bet or two out there before the season gets going.
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