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Best prop bets for LSU vs. Clemson

The biggest game of the year draws the biggest breakdown of the year. Which players will rack up the yardage where you can score on the props? And who will leave New Orleans a winner?

Clemson Tigers running back Travis Etienne scores a touchdown against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the fourth quarter in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at State Farm Stadium.
We think it’ll be a big day for Travis Etienne in New Orleans.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re going to play the props, there’s only one way to do it: get a former D2 offensive coordinator to break down film to find the matchups that can make you money!

And that’s what we did for the College Football Playoff title game tonight between Clemson and LSU. Myself and Seth Varnadore, extreme football film geek and last of Tusculum University, went through and found what we thought were the plays to make on tonight’s matchup. You can see how we came to our thinking below in the video. It’s for the hardcore football geeks, and we spray terms like “slot fade” “y-cross” and “mesh” (the Air Raid play, not the extended handoff). But if you just want the info, you can scroll down to the Cliffs Notes below, and you can find a host of props at DraftKings Sportsbook.

What we like

Side: LSU -5.5

These are two outstanding football teams filled with elite talent, and both are extremely well-coached. You’ll see some of the best coordinators in the sport at any level, and this game will be much more chess than checkers.

But LSU is just more balanced on both sides of the ball, has more weapons that can make plays in space, and is probably a smidge sturdier defensively. Clemson’s linebackers can struggle in space, both teams have coverage issues at safety (that no ACC or lower-tier SEC team could even think about using because of how good these teams are everywhere else) and LSU should exploit that all night via matchups and one of the best pocket passers in the history of college football in Joe Burrow.

We’ve got it as a game early, but with LSU having more space for their skill-position toys and pulling away in the second half. We really like LSU -5.5, to the point where the alternative line of LSU -12.5 +195 is a value play from us.

Total: Over 69.5

These are two great defenses as well, but in the modern era of college football good offense continues to beat good defense because of the rules advantages: linemen can be three yards downfield on RPO’s, chucks only in the 5-yard window, wide receiver rubs are basically legal, there’s basically no way to cover a TE on a choice route — if it’s good-on-good, the offense just has too many advantages.

And these offenses aren’t just good, they’re historically great. The likely next two No. 1 overall picks in the NFL Draft will start at quarterback. The starting running back for both teams can both run and catch and breakaway at will. There’s multiple draftable linemen on each side — we’re looking at a track meet.

It’s a big number, and likely requires the winner to get 40 on an elite defense, but we think it gets there. We’re both on the over.

Receiving Props

Clyde Edwards-Helaire: OVER 54.5 yards receiving
Travis Etienne: OVER 40.5 yards receiving
Justyn Ross: OVER 69.5 yards receiving
Thaddeus Moss: OVER 47.5 yards receiving
Amari Rodgers: OVER 37.5 yards receiving

Our best guess is both teams are going to play a lot of man coverage, because at least that way you’re not letting Burrow or Lawrence pick apart a zone from the pocket. Man means quicker throws when passing, but also means you’re putting linebackers or safeties one-on-one with wide receivers or running backs that should win frequently, and can break away for yards after the catch as well.

Man coverage also means the middle of the field is generally more open, so we like the running backs, tight ends, and inside receivers to go over, with the outside guys getting less balls. It’s why Ja’Marr Chase at 104.5 yards isn’t on our list, but we’re not going under on anyone in a game we think will be a shootout.

Justin Jefferson in the slot is unfair to any linebacker or safety in college football, and even more so when the help is forcing the other talent to the boundary with their back turned to Burrow. But 97.5 is a big number, and there’s better value above.

Rushing Props

Trevor Lawrence: UNDER 51.5 yards rushing

The dude is amazing, and multiple NFL teams should be tanking in 2020 for his services. But remember sack yardage counts against you in college, and LSU’s front four can get home even without blitz help. Plus his 106-yard performance against Ohio State was the exception, not the rule for him this season.

Lawrence will have the green light, but after seeing what the Buckeyes did, LSU should account for him more in the run game.

Passing Props

Trevor Lawrence: OVER 294.5 yards passing

For the same reasons stated above, he’s just got too many weapons to whom he can throw the ball. And with the focus of LSU on Etienne rushing, there will be plays to be made available.

We wouldn’t necessarily go under on Burrow at a massive 365.5 yards either, but that’s a lot of real estate. It’s a stay away from us.

First quarter

Team to receive: LSU

Don’t go crazy here as some of the value has been bet away from this.

Clemson is notorious for deferring if they win the coin toss, and it’s likely LSU takes the ball if they win the flip. That means the Bayou Bengals will get an extra possession in the first quarter. Keep it in mind when seeing things like LSU -0.5 -130 1st quarter only. There was some value here earlier this week, but it’s mostly been bet to a sharper number.

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