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College Football Player Props Week 1 Primer

Drake Maye

Drake Maye

Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Froton breaks down a few of his favorite CFB Player Props plays for Week 1, starting with two Friday Night Specials:

Friday Night Plays:

E.J Smith, RB, Stanford @ Hawaii - Over 57.5 Rushing Yards

You have to feel for the son of NFL All-Time rushing leader Emmitt Smith. The Stanford tailback patiently waited his turn to take the helm of the Stanford RB room last season, and thrived in that role rushing 30 times for 206 yards, 6.9 YPC and three touchdowns in the first two games of 2022 before succumbing to an undisclosed injury causing Smith to miss the remaining 10 games of the season.

Stanford welcomes new HC Troy Taylor, who helped develop Arizona State starting transfer RB Cameron Skattebo into a star rusher at Sacramento State. With so much changeover, Smith is the one bankable aspect of Stanford’s offense, making his 57.5 rushing yards prop line so intriguing. Though Hawaii was able to bottle up Vanderbilt for 39 rushing yards last week, let’s not forget that UH allowed 213 YPG and 5.6 YPC last season and is traveling back to Hawaii from Tennessee after taking on the Commodores on Saturday. I like Smith to get 13-15 carries which should cash the Over 57.5 rushing yards prop line.

Tylan Hines, RB, Hawaii - Under 54.5 Rushing Yards

Much like their Week 0 counterpart Vandy, Hawaii had major trouble rushing the ball to help balance out their Run & Shoot system. They accrued a pitiful 40 yards on 25 carries for 1.6 YPC, and Hines’ inability to get going was a major contributor in that disappointing showing, producing just 15 rushing yards on 9 carries, while fellow RB Landon Sims outperformed him with 9 carries for 38 yards. This is shaping up like a split carries situation where HC Timmy Chang is going to ride the hot hand. With UH playing another Power Five opponent, and Hawaii looking to throw early and often, Tylan Hines’ Under 54.5 Rushing Yards is my Friday Play of the Night.

Saturday Plays:

Tahj Brooks, RB, Texas Tech vs. Wyoming - Under 75.5 Rushing Yards

Last year Zach Kittley brought in his up-tempo spread attack to Lubbock with the intention of rekindling the potent aerial attack he employed at Western Kentucky and Sam Houston State. He improved the passing YPG by 45 yards despite losing their starter Shough for half the season. With Shough back and DII All-American slot receiver Drae McCray in from the portal, we should see more of the passing-oriented offense OC Kittley is more accustomed to, as Tech ran for 156 YPG last year, a 54 YPG difference over the 102 yards per game Kittle posted at WKU.

They’re also playing a stout Wyoming defense that returns 10 starters including star MLB Easton Gibbs who recorded 121 tackles last year. With the Wyoming secondary allowing a 61% completion rate last season and ranking 119th in havoc rate, I think we see Texas Tech open it up through the air in a way they didn’t have the ability to last year. With this in mind, I think Tahj Brooks is likely to finish Under 75.5 Rushing yards, like he did in 8-of-13 games last year..

Drake Maye, QB, UNC vs. South Carolina - Over 270.5 Passing Yards

Maye cleared 270.5 in each of his first 10 games to open 2022, showing how attainable this prop is. However the Tarheels’ star signal caller also failed to clear the 270.5 threshold in his final four contests, which is why the line is where it’s currently sitting. Much has been made of the departure of UNC OC Phil Longo for Wisconsin, and the subsequent arrival of OC Chip Lindsey who had formerly been the HC at Troy, will affect Mayes’ production. Maye is talented enough to thrive in any system, and with South Carolina losing NFL 2nd round CB Cam Smith and 5th round CB Darius Rush, Maye will have a much less heralded secondary to go after. I’m backing UNC the Heisman contender to throw 35+ passes and bring home this 270.5 passing yards Over.

Samuel Jackson, Cal vs. North Texas - Under 263.5 Pass Yards

Last year Cal OC Bill Musgrave was forced to play catch up most of the time, leading to a 268 passing yards–to-97 rushing yards per game split on offense. Veteran QB Jack Plummer was a Jeff Brohm disciple and was able to complete 63% of his passes for 3,095 passing yards in the high volume passing role. Musgrave departs with HC Justin Wilcox hiring perennial fanbase-apathy-magnet OC Jake Spavital to call the plays on offense. He went 13-35 as the HC of the Bobcats while piloting an offense that averaged 22 PPG over the last two seasons. Last year the Texas State passing offense ranked bottom-10 in explosive play rate, completions of 20+ yards and passing success rate.

It’s also important to remember that Jackson battled NC State transfer Ben Finley to a near draw in fall camp, with Jackson getting the contested starting nod. If Jackson starts slow, new OC Spavital could ver easily turn to Finley for a drive or two to provide a spark, at which point the Over is DOA. Despite Cal playing a North Texas team that ranked 113th in defensive success rate, I think the instability at QB means 263.5 yards is a risky proposition warranting an Under 263.5 play here.