Best Player Props for Clemson-Alabama: How to Value Tua, Lawrence in 2019 National Championship
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence
- Our experts have found seven props that offer betting value in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game between the Clemson Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide (Monday, Jan. 7, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN).
- This piece will analyze prop bets for Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence, Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa and more.
It’s not quite the Super Bowl, but you’ll undoubtedly want some secondary action on Clemson-Alabama in the form of props.
Our staffers compiled their favorite props bets for Monday’s game, revolving around yardage over/unders, receptions, big passing plays and touchdowns.
Ken Barkley: Damien Harris, 50.5 Rushing Yards
The Pick: Under 50.5
Harris, Alabama’s “starting” running back, had 13 rushes for 48 yards against Oklahoma (and remember, that’s Oklahoma’s defense we’re talking about), and he’s been used as part of a platoon for the majority of the season.
Harris has fewer than 10 carries in eight of the Tide’s games this season. Josh Jacobs is more explosive and saw more of the work in the CFP semifinal.
I think Alabama will have a commitment to running the ball because it’s Alabama, but that doesn’t mean Harris’ effectiveness is a given; Clemson’s defensive line gets a lot of publicity — and for good reason.
But to me, the range of possible outcomes skews much lower than this number in a lot of the ways the game can play out.
Plus, you get the added bonus of trying to figure out who is in the backfield pre-snap on EVERY single Alabama offensive play to know if you have to sweat.
I’d be comfortable betting the under as low as 45.
Stuckey: Tua Tagovailoa, Longest Pass 42 Yards
The Pick: Over 42
I agree with Ken that Alabama is going to struggle to move the ball on the ground — just like every Clemson opponent has this season. This is a historically dominant run defense that allowed an FBS-best 2.4 yards per carry (only two teams have allowed fewer in the past 10 years).
Nick Saban knows this and I think he comes out firing, attacking Clemson relentlessly — and deep. On paper, Clemson ranks 16th in defending pass explosiveness, but the Tigers had a schedule filled with rushing teams and non-explosive passing offenses.
Alabama is the complete opposite, ranking No. 2 in IsoPPP+ and in the top 5 in pass explosiveness. The Tide have hit for 16 pass plays of at least 44 yards this year (two more than the prop) and have done so at least once in 11 of 14 games.
I like the chances of Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs or Devonta Smith breaking one for 45-plus yards — or maybe a back out of the backfield on a busted coverage, or even a trick play.
Despite that cake schedule, Clemson still allowed five completions of more than 40 yards this season.
I’d take this over at 45 or lower.
Collin Wilson: Trevor Lawrence 2 TDs, Travis Etienne 85.5 Yards
The Picks: Over 2 TDs (+120) and over 85.5 yards
Lawrence over 2 touchdowns (+120) prop stems from Alabama’s red zone defense. The Crimson Tide are one of the best in the nation inside the 20, allowing scores just 71% of the time when opponents get past the 20-yard line.
A further look into the 25 scores against Alabama show a huge split in how teams are scoring.
Opponents have put up an astounding 13 passing touchdowns on Alabama, compared to seven rushing and five field goals.
A quick glance at the top 50 red zone defenses shows not many teams that have given up 13 touchdowns through the air, which is notable considering other teams have more opponent red zone attempts.
When Clemson gets past the 20, it should be Lawrence throwing every down.
Regarding Travis Etienne prop, we saw a 62-yard explosive play from him against Notre Dame, and the Irish rank seven in the nation against rush explosiveness, according to S&P+.
Over 85.5 rushing yards will get a boost from an Alabama rush defense that ranks 29th against explosiveness and just 40th in stuff rate.
Clemson may scheme to the pass in the red zone, but look for Etienne to be the workhorse who gets them there.
Evan Abrams, Matthew Freedman: Tee Higgins to Score a TD
The Picks: Yes +120
Clemson knows it can’t beat Alabama by running the ball against that rush defense, especially because the Tigers will need to score touchdowns, not field goals, to win this game.
Based on prior big moments and games, my feeling is Alabama will be focused on Hunter Renfrow, especially in the red zone and that may open up players like Higgins for opportunities.
Higgins has scored in three straight games for Clemson, including in four of five games away from “Death Valley” in 2018.
There will be points in this game and I think Higgins finds the end zone in a big moment for the Tigers. — Evan Abrams
I’m not a huge fan of any of these props at first view, but I don’t mind this one for Higgins.
He has 11 touchdowns for the season, scoring in nine of Clemson’s 14 games.
I expect the national championship to stay close, which would be good for this prop: Four of the five games in which Higgins didn’t score were contests Clemson won by 20-plus points.
With a full game’s worth of playing time, Higgins is a decent bet at plus odds. — Matthew Freedman
Steve Petrella: Hunter Renfrow 41.5 Yards, 3.5 Catches
The Picks: Over 41.5 yards, 3.5 catches
Besides the obvious “he’s torched Alabama in the ast two national championship games” (seriously, 17 catches for 180 yards and four scores), there’s one thing missing from this projection — Renfrow is almost never targeted in the fourth quarter because Clemson has blown out everyone.
Per ExpandTheBoxscore.com, Renfrow has just three catches on five targets in the fourth quarter all season. That’s 8% of his 61 targets.
We can assume this game will be close, and Clemson won’t be pulling its starters in the fourth.
I think Renfrow sees a more normal workload late in the game and winds up with five or six targets instead of his average of just over four.
At a 77% catch rate for the season, that will get him over 3.5 catches. (Important note: this line isn’t out at the time of publication, but based on his line in the Notre Dame game, it should be 3.5 to start with juice on the over. I’d take it up to -140).
Renfrow has also topped 41 yards in every relatively close Clemson game this season — Texas A&M, South Carolina, Syracuse, Notre Dame.
There are worse guys to put your faith in than someone who’s showed up in big games for his entire 14-year career, even if that’s not technically predictive in any way.