Lean 'Under' With Ian Book’s Cotton Bowl Props

Thursday, December 27, 2018 8:38 PM UTC

Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018 8:38 PM UTC

Get the latest college football picks on the Cotton Bowl. The game from Arlington, Texas is Saturday, December 29, at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN. Bet confidently with tips from SBRpicks.com.

None of this is Ian Book’s fault. He’s done a fine job at quarterback for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish since taking over from Brandon Wimbush. But he’s about to face the team with the best defense in college football: the Clemson Tigers. Saturday’s Cotton Bowl CFP semifinal figures to be a low-scoring affair, and we’re inclined to put the UNDER in our college football picks for any Book-related Cotton Bowl props.

Fortunately, the fine folks at 5Dimes have just what we need. Here are the two Cotton Bowl player props we’re looking for:

Ian Book Pass Completions
  • OVER 21.5 –115
  • UNDER 21.5 –105

You already can see the effect the Tigers defense is having on the betting market. Book has made eight starts this year, and he’s been fairly consistent with his stats, completing 22-27 passes each game on 32-39 attempts. Now we’re asking him to complete 21 passes or fewer. Is it too much of a stretch?

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Brian Kelly says the ball is coming out quick when they have possession of the football. No 5 or 7 step drops against Clemson because of how good they are on the defensive line. Need to protect Ian Book but know they will have to get the ball out quick.

— Angelo Di Carlo (@angdicarlo) December 27, 2018
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Not in our humble opinion. Book feasted on some very shaky pass defenses this year; the best of the bunch belonged to the USC Trojans, at No. 33 on the S&P+ Ratings at Football Outsiders. Clemson check in at No. 6. Only four quarterbacks managed to complete more than 21 passes against the Tigers this year. That imposing defensive line will put Book to a much tougher test than he’s faced all season – and Clemson’s run game will help keep the ball out of his hands for extended periods.

Ian Book Touchdown Passes
  • OVER 1.5 –130
  • UNDER 1.5 +110

These “counting” props contain more and more variance as the target number gets smaller, so you might want to adjust by making smaller bets when you see them on the college football odds board. This prop is especially tricky; Book passed for exactly two touchdowns in seven of his starts, and four in the other. We’ll need Clemson to halve that production if this player prop is going to cash in.

It could happen. Again, with these very low counting stats, thinking in terms of “halving” Book’s TD output doesn’t really hold up. Let’s look instead at Jeff Sagarin’s projections for USA Today; he has Clemson winning by 12.49 points, with a combined score of 52.81, so that’s ... let’s see, carry the one ... that’s 20.16 points for Notre Dame. How did the Irish get their scoring done this year? Like this, according to Sports Reference:

Passing TDs 138 points
Rushing TDs 162
Return TDs 6
Field Goals 51
PATs 46
2PT/Safeties 0

OK, that’s a total of 403 points scored, 138 of those generated by passing touchdowns, which was 34.24 percent of Notre Dame’s output. Multiply that percentage by 20.16 points, and you get 6.9 points, which is definitely UNDER 1.5 passing TDs. But here we go with those silly counting stats again. I can guarantee you that Book won’t throw anywhere between 1.1 and 1.5 TD passes on Saturday. Let’s just stick with UNDER 21.5 on pass completions, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.

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