NCAA Football Odds and Predictions: Pac-12 Player Props
by Alan Matthews - 9/2/2011
What a novel concept: To have a name and logo that accurately represent how many schools you have in your conference. With a swipe at the Big 12 and Big Ten, I give you the new Pac-12 Conference, which welcomes Utah from the Mountain West and Colorado from the Big 12 this season (the Utes opened on Thursday night against Montana State).
And the Pac-12 has the top three quarterbacks in terms pro potential of all the trios offered among the BCS conferences at Bodog on most passing yards and passing touchdowns. The Big 12’s Landry Jones (Oklahoma), Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State) and Robert Griffin III (Baylor) could well put up bigger numbers than the Pac-12’s trio of Stanford’s Andrew Luck, USC’s Matt Barkley and Arizona’s Nick Foles. However, Luck is a lock No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NFL Draft, Barkley is a cinch first-rounder (assuming both declare) and Foles probably a third-rounder but could move up with a big year. Only Jones among the Big 12 three will go in the first round. So there’s that. Luck, of course, surprised many by turning down the chance to be the top overall pick by Carolina in this year’s draft and he is the Heisman favorite after finishing second in the voting last year (my Heisman Trophy predictions say don’t bet on him to win).
So starting with the quarterback options, Luck, as expected, is the favorite for most yards per game at -140 and -150 and most TDs. Barkley is at +160 and +140, respectively, and Foles is at +300 and +325. Luck threw for 3,338 yards and a school-record 32 touchdowns last year. Barkley threw for 2,791 yards and 26 TDs, but in two fewer games than Luck because Barkley missed the Notre Dame loss and USC was bowl ineligible. And then there’s Foles. He led the Pac-10 in passing yards per game by a wide margin (totaled 3,191 yards and 20 TDs). Foles missed essentially three games due to injury in the regular season.
And that’s the key here: It’s passing yards per game and all stats are only the regular season. So I truly do believe that Foles is the best value, rather easily. Plus, he’s got a superstar receiver in Juron Criner to throw to and Arizona loves to air it out: Only eight teams in the country attempted more passes (524) than the Wildcats did a year ago.
On the most rushing yards per game and rushing TDs, I’m not even going to list all six options because this should be a two-man race between Oregon’s LaMichael James and Washington’s Chris Polk. Of course, James plays in the nation’s top offense and led the nation in rushing last season while adding 21 touchdowns. James is even-money in both props and mark him down for the TDs. But I think Polk is decent value on the yards per game at 7/2. He had a very nice 1,415 yards rushing last year. And he’s THE guy on the Huskies, while James has to share touches with Darron Thomas and Kenjon Barner, among others.
On the receiving yards and TDs props the candidates are: Stanford’s Chris Owusu, Washington’s Jermaine Kearse, Arizona’s Criner, California’s Keenan Allen, Washington State’s Marquess Wilson and USC’s Robert Woods. On the surface these would seem like Criner’s props to lose. He had 1,233 receiving yards (best in Pac-10) and 11 TDs (second) in 2010. I would definitely go with him on the yards per game at 11/4. But Kearse averaged more yards per catch than Criner last year and co-led the conference in touchdowns with 12 -- not bad with Jake Locker having such an off season. Woods could also explode because he’s the top guy with Ronald Johnson gone. Let’s go with him as he’s better value at basically 7/2 compared to Kearse’s 5/2. And it’s hard to know if new Washington QB Keith Price is any good.
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