Can you believe the college football season begins a week from Wednesday--if you count an Abilene Christian-Georgia State matchup as the opener. Today I look at Atlantic Coast Conference rushing props courtesy of Bovada.
Who Ya Got?
I'm always curious how Bovada chooses which running backs they feature in these types of annual props, and I'll look at other conferences as well before the season begins. Are they presuming that Miami's Duke Johnson, Florida State's Karlos Williams, Virginia Tech's Trey Edmunds, Virginia's Kevin Parks and Louisville's Dominique Brown are the five best backs in the conference? Johnson (33/1) and Williams (33/1) also are featured on the site's Heisman prop.
On the most rushing yards prop, Johnson is the College Football betting odds favorite at +150 among this group of five, followed by Williams (+200), Edmunds (+250), Parks (+400) and Brown (+450). For most rushing touchdowns, Williams is the +135 favorite, followed by Johnson (+200), Edmunds (+275), Brown (+425) and Parks (+425).
Johnson is going to be the absolute focal point of the Hurricanes' offense this season because they still don't even know who their starting quarterback will be. It's going to be either Jake Heaps, who just transferred to the school and obviously has no prior knowledge of the system, or true freshman Brad Kaaya. So even though Miami has two very talented receivers in Phillip Dorsett and Stacy Coley, it's going to be a run-heavy team. Johnson was off to a great start last year with 920 yards and six touchdowns on 145 carries before suffering a season-ending injury in the loss to Florida State that derailed Miami's season. His former capable backup, Dallas Crawford, is now a defensive back. So it's Johnson, Johnson and more Johnson.
Williams was part of a talented backfield for the national champion Seminoles last season along with Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. Both are now in the NFL -- you may have seen Freeman on HBO's "Hard Knocks" as he seems a lock to stick with the Atlanta Falcons. So now it's Williams who should clearly shoulder the load for what should again be a tremendous offense as long as Heisman winner Jameis Winston stays healthy (and out of trouble). Williams carried just 91 times last season but had 730 yards and 11 touchdowns. He wasn't much of a factor in the BCS Championship Game. Assuming Winston doesn't vulture them, Williams should get all the goal-line carries. Bovada offers College Football picks including props just on his totals among the five players as well: "over/under" 1,025 yards (under -130 favorite) and 14.5 touchdowns (both -120). Lean over on the yards but under the scores (barely).
Edmunds rushed for 675 yards and 10 touchdowns on 166 carries in 2013 for the Hokies as a freshman before breaking his leg in the regular-season finale against Virginia. Will he get enough touches to win either of these props? J.C. Coleman returns after rushing 84 times for 284 yards and a TD last year. And freshman Marshawn Williams was the star of the spring, which Edmunds missed. Last year Virginia Tech averaged only 119.8 yards rushing, 109th nationally and one of the program's worst totals under Frank Beamer. That was with a proven quarterback in Logan Thomas. This year's starter is likely going to be transfer Michael Brewer, formerly of Texas Tech.
Parks is the leading returning rusher in the conference as he totaled 1,031 yards and 11 touchdowns on 227 carries in 2013 for a very bad Cavaliers team. Parks was second in the ACC in attempts and might lead the conference in that category this year because Virginia is breaking in a new starting quarterback in Greyson Lambert (he did play some last year). The question is: Will the offensive line be any good to open enough holes for Parks?
Finally, Brown rushed 163 times for 825 yards and eight scores last season with Louisville. It obviously helped his cause that U of L had one of the nation's better quarterbacks in Teddy Bridgewater. Now that's untested Will Gardner's job and the Cards face a major step up in competition in their first season in the ACC.
NCAAF free picks: Parks leads this group in yards and Williams does in touchdowns as the Noles will want to keep Winston out of as much contact as possible at the goal line. And they are going to score plenty.