Last Updated: 2018-01-08
From a betting standpoint, the College Football Playoff National Championship Game is treated a lot like the Super Bowl. A bevy of prop betting options are available for those that want to have some additional betting opportunities and sportsbooks are willing to oblige. In most cases, these prop bets are better bets than the spread and total for the game that should, in theory, have the absolute sharpest line of the season. We’ve got a lot of data points for these teams, plus public and sharp money in the marketplace.
Because of that, much like the Super Bowl, taking advantage of the prop betting market is the way to go. We’re going to cover the National Championship prop betting market from two different angles in separate articles, as we take a look here at the actual game props. In our complementary piece, you’ll be able to look at some player prop options.
Before we look at specific examples, let’s consider some of the ways to approach these props. For one thing, if you’re expecting a tight, low-scoring, defensive struggle, rather than bet the low total, which has already lost line value because of sharp action, you can play unders with the props as a position on how you think the game will go, without having to take a bad number. If you think it will be higher-scoring, maybe there will be some more big plays or a first-half blowout that creates some garbage time opportunities in the second half.
If you have a big position on the side or total already, prop bets can be a semi-hedge, in which you’re limiting your risk with some analysis on how you think the game will go, without cancelling out your original wager. Say you took Alabama -3.5, but figure that if Georgia can pull the upset, it would be because of the right arm of quarterback Jake Fromm. You have your Alabama position, but you can also bet Jake Fromm to win the game MVP trophy. If you think it will be a close game either way, you can bet bigger on Alabama -3.5, but take Georgia’s margin of victory prop between 1 and 6 points at +350.
Make sure that you shop around at different sportsbooks for the best lines and prices. You don’t want to take Jalen Hurts over 50.5 rushing yards when another sportsbook is offering 59.5. For the purposes of our two articles, we’ll be looking at game and player props from BetOnline Sportsbook and 5Dimes Sportsbook, but be sure to look around for others.
Here are some game prop bets to consider for the National Championship:
First team to call timeout: Georgia -120 (5Dimes)
This prop is actually labeled “Team with two timeouts remaining first”, which is a wordy way of saying first team to use a timeout.
Let’s consider this logically: Georgia has a true freshman quarterback. While Jalen Hurts is only a true sophomore, he played in this game last year. His nerves should be less of an issue than Fromm’s. Furthermore, Hurts can improvise a bit more if he doesn’t like a defensive look, whereas it would be better for Fromm to see the defense and then look over the options.
Obviously a defensive timeout could be called based on a look or a formation, but typically, I would expect to see an offensive timeout and the situation sets up for Georgia to need to use one first. Both teams do like to defer when it comes to the first possession, so we don’t really have an edge in that regard.
Highest Scoring Half: First Half -125 (BetOnline)
The familiarity between these two teams is going to be an angle that you will hear about, read about, and get tired of hearing about and reading about right up until game time. It is in the interest of both teams to throw some wrinkles into the first half.
Something that really stood out about the Rose Bowl was how adept Kirby Smart and Mel Tucker proved to be about making defensive adjustments. Say what you want about Lincoln Riley’s play calling, and it was bad in the second half, but Oklahoma had less success on first and second down in the second half. Once they weren’t having success with what worked early on, they panicked. Georgia gave up 375 yards in the first half and about 150 in the second half. I would expect a similar set of adjustments to Alabama’s offense in this game.
Furthermore, I would expect Jim Chaney to throw a lot of different looks at Alabama to try and get a lead in the first half. Perhaps those carry over into the second half, but as the seconds tick away, the margin for error decreases, so it would be in the interest of both teams to do what they do best. That’s what both defenses will have planned for. My guess is that the first half is a little bit more wide open than people expect, but that things tighten up in the second half.
Offense scores all TDs: Yes -190 (5Dimes)
This prop is also offered at BetOnline, but it is labeled as “Will there be a defensive or special teams touchdown” and No is listed at -220. Notice, different wording, and two different prices between the two books. As far as turnovers go, Georgia only committed 14 and Alabama only committed nine. Only LSU committed fewer with eight. These two teams are littered with three-star and up players on coverage teams for kickoffs and punts. It’s hard to see a D/ST touchdown out of this game.
Again, be sure that you shop around. Same prop, different wording, 30 cents less juice at 5Dimes. Those things are important.
Will there be a safety? No -1475 (5Dimes)
This tastes chalkier than an antacid tablet, but this is the right bet to make. Not everybody has a big amount of money to lay a -1475 price tag, but it is the right side. At -1475, this bet implies that there is a 93.65 percent chance that this game goes off without a safety. By my count, there were 49 safeties in college football overall this season. The chances of getting one here is miniscule. Of course, we’ve seen that prop hit in the Super Bowl recently, along with some of the other long shots, but I doubt we get one here. While I don’t expect too many to actually play it, the return on this prop at +800 for Yes is a –EV bet that is nowhere near reasonable odds. This is mostly a cautionary tale not to fall for that trap.
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