As with any big game, there’s a huge platter of side plays that bettors can feast on. Here are the top five 2019 College Football Championship prop bets you can make on tonight’s game. For a full breakdown of the matchup itself, check out James Scully’s breakdown of the championship tilt!
Trevor Lawrence TD Passes (UNDER 2 -150 / OVER 2 +115)
The lack of a hook on this flat number suggests that even the oddsmakers are really trying to play it safe with Lawrence’s 2019 College Football Championship prop bets. That’s why the easy play here is OVER +115. Alabama has always been a team that stacks up against the run well, and they know that the key to limiting Clemson is (somehow) slowing down Travis Etienne. The insanely athletic and creative Lawrence will find ways to punch it in to the endzone at least twice. What this is a bet on more than anything is the validity of Alabama’s defense, which has exploitable weaknesses. They are still a fantastic unit overall, but they’re not nearly as dominant as they’ve been in the past. The Tide will be aggressive on the scoreboard, and Clemson will need Lawrence to counterpunch with aerial antics of his own. The fact that you could get this bet pushed is nice insurance, making the OVER a fun chase play.
Hunter Renfrow Pass Receptions (UNDER 3.5 -130 / OVER 3.5 +100)
They call it “third and Renfrow” for a reason, but the speedy receiver isn’t used as much as you might think. In fact, he’s averaged 3.3 catches per game this whole year. He’s also only had 6 games where he’s caught 4+ passes and has a season high of 8 passes against Boston College on the road. The lure with 2019 College Football Championship prop bets like this is that 4 catches just doesn’t seem like a lot. The problem is that Clemson spreads the ball around a lot. They had 9 receivers in the Cotton Bowl Classic catch a pass, and they know that Alabama is most vulnerable on the ground. Etienne is the star of this show, and Lawerence has eyes for Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross over most of his receivers. This is a line that is meant to tempt you. Don’t bite. Hold UNDER 3.5 catches for Renfrow.
Tua Tagovailoa Passing Yards (OVER/UNDER 295.5 -115)
There are a bunch of really good reasons that Tua didn’t play in that many fourth quarters this season. But the biggest? There’s a sneaking suspicion that he’s injury prone. He got dinged up against Oklahoma, and was knocked out of the SEC Championship game against Georgia. That ankle, though repaired, is still a big risk. His mobility is great, and nobody’s questioning that, but his ability to use that skill is under fire.
The thinking is that Tagovailoa will have to unleash the ball through the air, and he is coming off a game where he victimized Oklahoma for 318 yards and 4 touchdowns. The important part? The Big 12 teams have never prioritized defense in the way that Clemson has. The Tigers have big corners, even bigger defensive linemen and lightning fast safeties. All of those components add up to Alabama facing the only team that’s practically designed to beat them.
The big play ability for Tua and the Tide just aren’t going to be there. In all but three of his games this season, Tua has padded his passing yard numbers with a huge, 45+ bomb. Hoping to connect on those types of passes against Clemson’s aerial defense unit is going to be tough. The Heisman runner-up will still put on a heck of a show, but it’s hard to see him getting close to this mark. Both sides warrant merit, but the UNDER seems like the safer play.
Damien Harris Rushing Yards (UNDER/OVER 50.5 -115)
This seems low right? We thought so too, until a deeper dive in to the numbers. Harris is a beast of a runner at 5-foot-11 and 215 pounds, and has continued the long tradition of Alabama having some sort of human hammer in the backfield. Playing alongside fellow running back Josh Jacobs has proved problematic for opponents since they are essentially carbon copies of each other. Jacobs has rushed for 593 yards and 15 total touchdowns, while Harris piled up 819 and 9 combined scores.
Harris has crested 50+ yards ten times this season in 14 games, but barely. He ran for 52 yards against Georgia in the SEC Championship game, and just 48 yards against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. There have been just two games where he’s erupted for 100+ yards. This is an important metric because Clemson is one of the best run-stuffing defenses in the country, averaging just 98.6 yards against on the ground, which is good enough for 4th.
Opportunity is one of the hardest qualifiers for a player like Harris, who has pretty much split carries with Jacobs evenly, but from an optics viewpoint, he’s looked like the better runner between the two lately. You have to use blunt force to penetrate Clemson’s front line on defense, and Harris gives them the best chance of moving the ball for positive yards in this regard. You have to brave sometimes when tossing money in to side pots, but this is one of the best 2019 College Football Championship prop bets to invest in. Dare to take the OVER at -115 and watch Harris run roughshod.
Alabama Crimson Tide To Win By 7-12 (+400)
The Win-Margin market is one that always tantalizes with its “high-risk, high-reward” payouts so the best way to approach this market is by sprinkling it around. Alabama to win by 1-6 is priced at +320, but the +400 odds on a 7-12 margin is just that much juicier.
For what it’s worth, Clemson is a tempting +700 to win by this same margin in our 2019 College Football Championship prop bets, so if you prefer to go hunting with the dog then the value is sitting right there.