College Football Playoff Player Props: Our CFP Picks, Including CJ Stroud, Donovan Edwards, Kendre Miller
Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud.
The College Football Playoff is finally upon us, which means some of the best players in the country will take the field in the Fiesta Bowl between TCU and Michigan and Peach Bowl between Ohio State and Georgia.
Our college football staff found betting value in both games, as we have picks for Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy, TCU running back Kendre Miller, Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud and more.
Read on for all five of our top player props for Saturday’s College Football Playoff semifinals, and be sure to check out our other best bets for today’s games.
College Football Playoff Semifinal Player Props
In the table below, you’ll find each of our college football staff’s top player prop picks from Saturday’s pair of College Football Playoff 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.|
TCU vs. Michigan
RB Donovan Edwards Rushing Yards
This is a big number, but Michigan’s offense is its ground game.
The Wolverines once again won the Joe Moore Award for the nation’s best offensive line, and Donovan Edwards has proven capable of filling the large shoes vacated by the injured Blake Corum.
Edwards has gotten two games as Michigan’s lead workhorse following Corum’s early exit in the Ohio State game. In both instances, the running back has recorded monster performances. Edwards rushed for 216 yards on 22 carries against the Buckeyes and added another 185 yards on 25 attempts against Purdue in the Big Ten Championship.
The sophomore also led the team with 173 rushing yards against Penn State as Corum’s backup.
All three of those teams have better run defenses than TCU, a team that allows 4.1 yards per carry — the 67th-best mark in the country. On the season, Edwards averages 7.5 yards per carry, ranking fourth in the nation.
Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy has improved as the season has progressed, but 25 pass attempts is about the ceiling of what Michigan wants from him.
The Wolverines have the 10th-highest rush rate in the country (62.6%), and this figures to be no exception. Michigan should have the lead in the fourth quarter and will turn to Edwards and the ground game to run this out and secure a place in the National Championship.
Pick: Donovan Edwards Over 128.5 Rushing Yards (+100) · Play to 129.5
RB Donovan Edwards Rushing Yards
By Cody Goggin
Donovan Edwards has taken hold of the RB1 role in this Michigan offense over its last couple of games since Blake Corum’s season-ending injury.
After hitting double-digit carries in only four games all season leading up to the Ohio State game, Edwards was trusted to tote the rock 22 times against the Buckeyes and 25 times against Purdue in the Big Ten Championship.
Both of these games saw Michigan in a positive game script, and as 7.5-point favorites against TCU, there’s a chance it finds itself in a similar situation again.
In these last two games, Edwards has displayed just how explosive he can be. He posted 216 yards against Ohio State and 185 against Purdue, averaging 8.53 yards per carry across those two weeks.
It seems that Edwards has earned the trust of Jim Harbaugh and will be a major key in the Wolverines’ bid to qualify for the CFP National Championship for the first time in school history.
TCU has struggled against the run for much of the season. The Horned Frogs rank 57th in PFF run defense grade, 80th in Rushing Success Rate and 88th in Rushing PPA.
Meanwhile, Michigan ranks 19th in PFF run-blocking grade and is likely going to be the toughest test the TCU has faced in the trenches all season. The Wolverines ran the ball at the seventh-highest rate in the country this season and did so with great success. They ranked sixth in Rushing Success Rate and 10th in Rushing PPA on the year.
Everything lines up well for Edwards to have another huge game. I believe the Wolverines should be able to dominate this game in the trenches, and Edwards is a house call waiting to happen.
At plus money, I love Edwards to go over this number of 128.5 rushing yards.
Pick: Donovan Edwards Over 128.5 Rushing Yards (+100) · Play to 139.5
QB JJ McCarthy Passing TDs
JJ McCarthy is coming into this game on fire, having thrown for two or more touchdowns in four of his last five games. Michigan’s efficiency inside the 40-yard line is a major reason for that, with the Wolverines ranking 11th in Points per Opportunity.
This is wildly unfortunate for a TCU team that’s incredibly lackluster on defense when backed into its own territory. The Horned Frogs rank 102nd in Points per Opportunity Allowed this season, and I expect their struggles to continue in this semifinal.
Another factor will be how clean I expect the pocket to be for McCarthy on New Year’s Eve.
TCU has been just about average at generating Havoc, ranking 71st in the country. Michigan, however, has been absolutely stellar at not allowing Havoc when on offense. The Wolverines rank ninth in the country when it comes to Havoc Allowed.
Expect McCarthy to have plenty of time to throw, even in the red zone.
Pick: JJ McCarthy Over 1.5 Passing TDs (+110) · Play to +100
RB Kendre Miller Rushing Yards
This isn’t a particularly high number for a player who’s put up more than 1,300 yards on the ground, but I don’t love the spot for TCU’s RB1.
Michigan’s defense is second in the country in yards per rush allowed and one of only two teams that gives up fewer than 3.0 yards per tote.
The best rush defense TCU saw this season from a yards-per-play standpoint was Iowa State (3.1). Miller was limited to his fourth-lowest rushing total of the season (72 yards) in that game.
The Wolverines surrender about only 85 yards per game on the ground. And though it’s low-hanging fruit, I don’t love the prospects of playing Miller over the total with TCU as a ‘dog.
Michigan’s a great tackling team, and Miller probably needs to break multiple big gains to get this over the total. I’m going under on the back who slowed down mightily down the stretch.
Pick: Kendre Miller Under 71.5 Rushing Yards · Play to 65.5
Ohio State vs. Georgia
QB CJ Stroud Passing Yards
By Alex Hinton
The Peach Bowl will be Ohio State’s first game in five weeks. The long layoff in between bowl games can sometimes hurt teams that rely on throwing the ball. A slow start from Stroud could help Georgia gain a lead, which means he will have to throw even more
Either way, the attempts should be there. Stroud threw the ball 29.5 times per game this season. However, in Stroud’s three losses as a starting quarterback, he averaged 50.3 attempts. If he throws the ball 50 times, I would expect him to throw for 300 yards.
Stroud has 14 300-yard passing games over the last two seasons. This season, he averaged 278.3 passing yards per game. In five games against teams around the top 30 in scoring defense (Notre Dame ranked 31st), Stroud averaged 298.6 passing yards per game.
Georgia ranked second nationally in scoring defense but 49th in passing yards per game. Over their last six games, the Bulldogs have allowed 275 passing yards per game. A lot of that damage came in the SEC Championship when LSU threw for 502 yards. The Tigers trailed for much of that game and threw the ball 52 times.
Throwing the ball will give Ohio State its best chance at winning, particularly factoring in Stroud’s weapons.