College Football Betting Guides

Betting College Football Running Back Player Props

The college football season invites all sorts of possibilities. This is a sport played by 19- and 20-year-old athletes in front of large crowds and national television audiences. The pressure and passion are intense. Young men will make mistakes but will also create very special plays. There is so much fragility and unpredictability in this sport, but it is also true that certain games involve certain tendencies.

There are opportunities to win some player props, such as the running back position and the expected amount of yards a running back might run for in a game or during the season. Let’s take a closer look at betting running back player props in college football.

The Strategy Of Betting College Football Running Back Player Props
The Strategy Of Betting College Football Running Back Player Props

Understanding Game Flow

The amount of yards a running back might get in a college football game has to be connected to the flow of the game. Will the game be low-scoring or high-scoring? Will there be a lot of plays for each offense or fewer plays? Will teams attempt to drain the clock and control the ball, intent on keeping the ball away from the opponent’s offense, or will teams try to score as often as possible and not worry about the clock? Will one team try to sit on a lead if it gets a lead, and will that team be expected to get a lead, or will it face an uphill battle in terms of trying to get a lead? These are the questions you have to wrestle with and anticipate.

Here’s an example: Florida State is expected to win handily at Boston College this coming weekend. Florida State has a very good passing offense, but the Seminoles are also likely to get an early lead, which means that in the late second or early third quarter, they will probably want to run the ball a lot and will spend most of the second half running the ball instead of throwing the ball. They have a very good offensive line and have a good chance of overpowering the Boston College defensive line.

Florida State might seem like a team which won’t give its running backs many carries, but the game against Boston College gives the Seminoles a good chance of being in position to use their running backs heavily in the second half and collect a lot of rushing yards before the game is over.

All those game tendencies have to be factored into the equation when considering a running back player prop, most commonly the amount of rushing yards a running back will get in an individual college football game.

Team Tendencies

Some teams really do seek offensive balance. Their run-pass play mixture is relatively even on a consistent basis. Their coaches are conservative and don’t want to be imbalanced between run and pass. Other teams really do want to throw the ball and score instead of running the ball and using long clock-chewing drives. Still other coaches believe in the value of the running game but will use a good running game to set up downfield passes off play-action. They want to draw linebackers into the tackle box and then throw the ball down the field – behind the spots vacated by the linebackers coming up to stuff the run – for big plays and touchdowns. All of these factors influence how many yards and touchdowns a running back is likely to produce in a given game.

Including the quality of the opponent also really matters. Can that opponent stymie the offense and prevent it from doing what it wants to do and how it wants to go about its business, or will that opponent offer no meaningful resistance? This plays into the likelihood of whether a team and an offense will be able to impose their will on the opposition, which will naturally affect whether a running back is going to hit the target totals mentioned in a player prop before the game.

Game By Game Totals

The relevance of game by game totals is as follows: When a player gets a lot of work one week (and that player is not a quarterback), chances are he won’t get a lot of work the next week. When that player doesn’t get a lot of work one week, he will be in a much better position to get a lot of opportunities to collect yards and touchdowns the next week.

Running backs do not have an endless supply of energy or stamina or toughness. They have to be managed carefully over the course of a season. If a running back gets 30 touches and takes a lot of hits one week, he is not likely to post big numbers the next week, even if the opponent is relatively weak. The coaching staff will want to save him for bigger games and preserve his body. On the other hand, if a really good running back barely plays in a game but is healthy for the following week, then the coaching staff is in position to ride him a lot and extend his workload, particularly if it’s against a good team.

Weekly totals and outputs are definitely important in considering running back player propositions over the course of a college football season.

Depth Chart And Team Situation

The larger situation facing a team and its overall roster has to be included in an assessment of whether a running back is likely to exceed or go under a rushing yard total and touchdown total in a given college football game.

Here’s an example of what we are talking about: There will be situations in which a team has only two healthy running backs at one point in a given season. There were injuries to a third or fourth running back in the offseason. A team became very thin on the depth chart at running back in September and didn’t have a whole lot of options at the position over the course of the season. With only two healthy running backs, the coaching staff could not afford to give either running back too much work.

The staff had to focus more on the passing game, and more specifically, using tight ends and fullbacks and wide receivers as outlets for short passes which were basically extended handoffs. A lot of coaches use a short passing game as the extension of a running game. The passes are so short in terms of distance traveled that they are basically handoffs, just in a different form.

Wide receiver screens are basically running plays to a wide receiver instead of to a running back. This will often happen because there simply aren’t enough healthy running backs to get enough touches.

When a team does have four healthy running backs, the coaching staff will be a lot more willing to give the first and second running backs a lot of carries. They can lean on the running backs and, when those running backs get tired, shift some carries to the third and fourth running backs in the room. The level of depth a team has at any position is going to affect the usage rate for that position. It will also affect the balance of running and passing plays that team and that offense will display over the course of a season.

Also, the team’s larger situation has to be considered. What we mean here is that if a team has a ton of injuries and is generally shorthanded, the coaching staff for that team will want to play shorter games instead of longer games. This is obvious: A team with less depth will want to play a game with 10, 15, 20 or 30 fewer plays. That way, its best and healthiest players have a better chance of playing a higher percentage of plays in that game. They won’t have to be overextended.

If a game has 100 plays instead of 70, the teams involved will have to substitute more players on more plays. If a game has 70 plays instead of 100 plays, the teams don’t have to substitute as often. It will be advantageous for the injured team to have fewer plays.

How does a team shorten a game and create fewer plays per game? Running the ball. Draining the clock. Playing it safe. These details affect running back usage and, by extension, the amount of running back opportunities which exist in a game.

Weather Will Be A Factor

The weather for a game is relevant to the above considerations coaches juggle in terms of shortening a game or extending a game. In 100-degree heat, coaches will want to shorten a game and not expose their players to extreme conditions any longer than necessary. When we get into November, games could involve snow or rain or biting cold.

Coaches might lean on their offensive lines to play smashmouth football and involve the running backs more. If the field is wet and slippery, that could affect how well running backs are able to perform. There’s a lot to think about with running back player propositions in college football.

Cashing In College Football Running Back Props

There are tons of college football running back props on the board these days from attempts to carries to receptions to yards, touchdowns and more. If you want to cash in with these, make sure you’re checking in with the player props tool to see the best options on the board (under Insights). From there, follow the strategy laid out here and take into account things like game flow, weather and the total to see if they make sense to bet.


Outlier Team
December 10, 2023
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