College Football Odds & Player Prop Picks: 4 Bets, Including Chase Brown, Casey Thompson & Ronald Awatt
Sam Wasson/Getty Images. Pictured: Ronald Awatt.
- Saturday marks the first day to bet college football since January, so we're getting started with four player props.
- Our top player props feature players such as Illinois' Chase Brown, Nebraska's Casey Thompson and UTEP's Ronald Awatt.
- Check out all four of our top player prop bets for Saturday's college football games below.
The college football season is finally upon us. And what better way to celebrate than by betting on the players who make this sport so special?
The Week 0 slate features far fewer games than a typical week, but our staff still found betting value on four player props, ranging from the beginning of the day until the end.
Whether it’s a starting quarterback making a transition to a new Power Five school or a Group of Five running back going up against a powerful defense, we have you covered. So, be sure to check out all four of our top player props for Week 0 below.
College Football Player Props for Week 0
In the table below, you’ll find each of our college football staff’s top player prop picks from Saturday’s slate of games. Click on any pick or team logo to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.|
Nebraska vs. Northwestern
Casey Thompson Passing Yards
By Cody Goggin
Mark Whipple steps in this season as Nebraska’s play-caller after propelling Pitt’s offense to an ACC Championship and Kenny Pickett to the first round of the NFL draft a season ago.
Whipple’s teams have always run a passing-based attack, ranking in the top 30 in the country in passing play percentage in each of the last eight years.
Last year, Nebraska ranked 112th, passing only 38.65% of the time. This was in large part due to the limitations of quarterback Adrian Martinez, who is a gifted runner but struggles throwing the ball at times.
Casey Thompson is the new man under center this season, transferring from Texas. In limited playing time, Thompson has shown that he is able to throw the ball successfully, ranking 26th in the country in passer efficiency rating.
Even with Martinez’s struggles and the Cornhuskers’ low pass rate last year, Martinez went over this number in 10 of his 11 games. The only game that he didn’t was against Northwestern, as Martinez only attempted 17 passes in a 56-7 Nebraska win.
The 2021 Northwestern defense was uncharacteristically bad. Pat Fitzgerald’s teams are usually well-known for their defensive prowess, but this unit ranked 107th in SP+. Furthermore, they ranked just 104th in the country in Success Rate on passing plays.
This line is surprisingly low based on the talent of Thompson, the increased pass rate that Whipple should bring and a mediocre Northwestern defense. I think Thompson could have a big game here, provided the game script doesn’t get too out of hand.
Pick: Casey Thompson Over 225.5 Passing Yards (Play to 239.5)
QB Casey Thompson Rushing Yards
Last season, the Northwestern defense stunk, and a majority of that stink came from the rush defense, which ranked 119th in the nation. The Wildcats have made some moves in the offseason to bolster the defensive line, but the strength of the defense still resides in the secondary.
Even with the relative strength in the secondary, Northwestern was still very porous last season, giving up 29.0 points per game.
Nebraska comes into the Week 0 matchup with a veteran running back corps led by Rahmir Johnson and Anthony Grant. Grant had a strong showing in the spring game, so it’s likely that the two will split duties against the tepid Northwestern defensive line.
Nebraska quarterback Casey Thompson will make his inaugural start for the Huskers after transferring from Texas. Last year, in his only season as a starter, Thompson rushed for 157 yards, averaging 2.9 yards per carry. Through 12 games, he averaged 13 yards per game on the ground.
Huskers first-year offensive coordinator Mark Whipple runs a pro-style attack that affords his quarterbacks the opportunity to take off. In his last two seasons at Pittsburgh under Whipple, Kenny Pickett averaged 17.32 yards per game on the ground. We can’t forget the fake slide that Pickett pulled in the ACC Championship on his way to a 58-yard touchdown trot.
Thompson will be presented the same opportunities to flee the pocket in Whipple’s new system. Thompson possesses a 4.50 40-yard dash speed, which is much faster than Pickett’s recent 4.73 40 time.
Whipple will be itchy to leverage his new quarterback’s fleet feet as a continued part of his game planning. Thompson’s speed will come in handy when the relative strength of Northwestern’s secondary is being felt.
The split of work between Nebraska’s running backs remains unclear, so I am going to pass on their rushing-yard props and focus on Thompson’s total, which is at 11.5. This number is right in line with his two-season game average.
I like Thompson to use his elite speed to take advantage of the weak Northwestern rushing defense.
Pick: Casey Thompson Over 11.5 Rushing Yards (Play to 12.5)
Wyoming vs. Illinois
Chase Brown Rushing Yards
It’s never easy laying double digits with a slow-paced run-heavy Illinois program. That speaks volumes about Wyoming, which ranks 123rd nationally in returning production, according to TARP.
Wyoming’s offensive attack is reliant on establishing the run. The Cowboys ran the ball on 65% of snaps last season and averaged over five yards per attempt. But the program loses three offensive linemen and returns only three who played more than six snaps last season.
This offense won’t find success against a massive Illinois defensive front.
I expect Illinois to dominate possession in this matchup, and that means plenty of carries for Chase Brown. Last season, Brown averaged 5.9 yards per attempt in Illinois’ final eight games last season. He ripped up Charlotte and Penn State for 480 yards between the two.
Bret Bielema’s offense ran the ball on 59% of its snaps last season. I expect the Ililni to exceed that number in this game as Wyoming’s defense tries to figure it out after losing captain linebacker Chad Muma to the Jacksonville Jaguars. His 142 tackles will be sorely missed in this matchup.
Brown is poised to establish himself as one of the top running backs in the Big Ten. He will start his junior campaign out on a big note against a rebuilding Wyoming defense.
Pick: Chase Brown Over 102.5 Rushing Yards (Play to 109.5)
North Texas vs. UTEP
RB Ronald Awatt Rushing Yards
Where to begin with this under.
For starters, Ronald Awatt won’t be starting this game for the Miners. Deion Hankins sits atop their depth chart, which means that Awatt is looking at a timeshare in a best-case scenario on Saturday.
Even as a starter last season, Awatt still failed to top this number in seven of the Miners’ 13 contests. He averaged just 12 carries per game during 2021 and failed to produce a run of more than 13 yards in six of his 13 contests.
He’s a low-volume back who lacks explosiveness — two alluring traits when considering placing an under on a running back.
Let’s toss in the fact that the Miners are replacing the left side of their offensive line and are running into a North Texas defense that held them to 109 yards rushing and 3.3 yards per carry when these two teams met in November.
I’m counting on start North Texas linebacker K.D. Davis to make life very difficult on Awatt and this UTEP offense once again.
I would play this number all the way down to 60.5.