It is finally that time. The final college football game of the 2014-15 season is upon us as Oregon and Ohio State square off in Dallas for the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship. Being the National Championship game, there are plenty of ways to bet with Vegas putting out a sizeable props list and alternate lines and totals.
Heading into the National Championship I am sitting at a 37-36-1 record in bowl games, and will be giving you a pick for every prop bet from the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook — and the occasional alternate line or total. First, we have to pick the game itself against the spread and an over/under.
Ohio State (+6.5) vs. Oregon/UNDER 75.5
This line has been all over the place the past three days in Vegas. 6.5 is as high as it’s been — it was as low as 5 — and that shows that late money is all over the Ducks. I’ve liked the Buckeyes to cover since it opened at seven and still feel pretty good about it at 6.5. I’m a believer in Cardale Jones as a quarterback and think the Buckeyes defense will be able to present some problems for the Oregon offense — particularly up front where Ohio State has a terrific defensive line. Also, everyone is coming into this game expecting a blowout, but — like Oregon/Auburn a few years ago — I think this is a lower scoring game than most expect so give me the under at 75.5.
UNDER 65.5 (+270)
I really like the under in this game, and to tease it down to 65.5 gets you some excellent juice. I think both defenses play well early, plus most teams play a little tight early on in a national championship, and this game heads to halftime pretty low scoring.
OHIO STATE PROPS:
Ohio State outright win (+190)
The Buckeyes were down to +165 in most places on Saturday on the money line, but that number has crept back up close to 2 to 1 odds for them to win outright, which I think is great value. I think it’s 60/40 Oregon to win this game and that it’s close throughout, so getting these odds is just too good to pass up.
Total completions, Cardale Jones: UNDER 19.5
Jones was terrific against Alabama. He was winging the ball all over the field and attacking vertically. That said, he completed 18 passes that game and I think they try to run the ball more against Oregon’s defense than they did against Alabama. I like the under here.
Longest completion, Cardale Jones: OVER 45.5
Cardale has a cannon for an arm and I think he’ll hit one of the deep shots that Ohio State will go for. There’s an 18 yard middle here between this number and the longest TD of the game, and I think he hits something in the 55 yard range — because he can actually throw it that far in the air on a dime.
Total rushing yards, Cardale Jones: OVER 42.5
Sacks counting as negative rushing yards in college makes this a bit dicey, but I expect them to be run heavy in this game and Jones to have double-digit carries. If he gets 15 real carries this game, I think he’ll go over this number.
Total rushing yards, Ezekiel Elliont: OVER 120.5
He’s been over 200 yards the last two games and is going to be the workhorse in this game. I don’t love this line because I think he’s around 125 yards for this game so I tentatively take the over.
Total receiving yards, Devin Smith: UNDER 72.5
Oregon’s going to do everything they can to take Smith out of the game and force Jones to make extra reads. Smith will get some catches, but if the Buckeyes are going to hit a big play it will need to come from elsewhere because the Ducks will try to cap Smith over the top with safety much of the night.
Devin Smith TD: NO
Again, I think they take away Smith in the vertical passing game, and in the redzone the Buckeyes’ best option is to run it or some play action.
Total points, Ohio State: UNDER 34
I love every under in play on this game.
Total completions, Marcus Mariota: UNDER 23.5
Two of Mariota’s top three receivers are out for this game and I think that makes the Ducks rely more one the rushing attack than passing. He’s only completed 24 or more passes four times this season — granted he’s done that the last two games — so I’ll take the under here.
Longest completion, Marcus Mariota: UNDER 55.5
Not nearly the middle I had for the same prop on Jones, and, again, top two receivers out so I like the under.
Total TD passes, Marcus Mariota: UNDER 2.5
I think he throws two and runs for one. (Cue broken record) Top two receivers out for the game. Under.
Total rushing yards, Marcus Mariota: UNDER 60.5
This play is really whether you think he breaks a massive run. I don’t think so, and he rarely gets more than 10 carries in a game. Ohio State’s also got a phenomenal pass rush, so sacks terrify me here.
Total rushing yards, Royce Freeman: UNDER 92.5
Freeman’s great, but they featured Thomas Tyner a lot in the National Championship game, and I think they rotate both a lot this game keeping Freeman’s rushing total relatively low.
Total receiving yards, Byron Marshall: OVER 60.5
Marshall figures to get plenty of targets this game with Carrington and Allen out, so I like the over here.
Total points, Oregon: UNDER 41
Defensive/Special Teams Touchdown, both teams: YES (+140)
I have no real strong conviction either way here, but it’s a lot more fun to say yes.
Longest TD of the game: UNDER 63.5 yards
Both of these teams have big play potential, but I think the defenses will be focused on keeping things in front of them and will avoid allowing huge plays for touchdowns.