2021 Mountain West Conference Win Totals: Betting Value on Wyoming & Fresno State Futures
Chris Gardner/Getty Images. Pictured: The Fresno State Bulldogs.
2021 Mountain West Conference Futures Odds
Mountain West football has been dominated by Boise State for the last decade, and oddsmakers are anticipating a similar result this year as the Broncos are even-money favorites to win the conference title.
This season offers a unique set of challenges for the Broncos, as the conference has plenty of contenders with the potential to make a run at the conference championship.
- San Jose State returns 20 starters and hopes to repeat its magical 7-1 season and Mountain West title from last year.
- Nevada saw its opportunity at making it to the championship game slip out of its fingertips in the second half against SJSU. They return the bulk of their explosive offense, including the gunslinger Carson Strong at quarterback.
- Wyoming hopes to lean on its dominant defense and soft schedule to lead it to a conference championship.
- Fresno State is a sleeper that returns all but two starters and should have a high-powered offense once again.
It’s safe to say the Mountain West is going to be a lot of fun this year with so many teams that can take down the powerhouse Broncos. Below are three teams that should exceed expectations and present betting value on their win totals for the season.
Wyoming Cowboys Over 7.5 Wins
Wyoming had the talent last year to make a deep run until the wheels fell off when it had two games canceled because of COVID-19 and a lingering shoulder injury that hindered quarterback Sean Chambers.
The Cowboys will have one of the top defenses in the conference, as they allowed 21.0 points and 328 yards per game last year. They return all 11 starters and maintain a defensive TARP rating of 82%.
The defense is going to be stout, but Wyoming needs to see some improvement offensively. The Cowboys own an offensive TARP rating of 77%, and that includes a healthy Chambers.
Through the first four games last year, the Cowboys averaged 33.5 points per game until Chambers’ shoulder injury. Then, they finished the season scoring just 12.5. They bring in a new offensive coordinator and return the entire offensive line, which will prove to be one of the best in the Mountain West.
Wyoming has the easiest schedule of anyone in the conference and has seven games I already consider wins: New Mexico, UConn, Utah State, Montana State, Hawaii, Northern Illinois, and Colorado State. Then, the Cowboys will play four coin-flip games in Fresno State, Air Force, Ball State, and San Jose State before facing Boise State late in the year.
If Wyoming can win some of those 50/50 games, it has the potential to go 11-1.
The win total opened at 8.5 but dropped down to 7.5, a move I don’t agree with. I’m anticipating the offense to improve and I’m not only playing over 7.5 wins, but I’m also sprinkling some on the Cowboys to win the Mountain West at +700.
Fresno State Bulldogs Over 6 Wins
Fresno State’s offense averaged 32.8 points per game and saw quarterback Jake Haener establish himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the conference. Running back Ronnie Rivers took advantage of NCAA blanket waiver to return for another season. Joining him will be the three stud wide receivers in Jalen Cropper, Keric Wheatfall, and Josh Kelly. The Bulldogs will thrive with an offensive TARP of 78% and defensive TARP of 80%.
There is no denying this offense is going to put up points, but the Bulldogs will look to improve defensively. They were a chaotic group that would be willing to bring the house on any play, which left them exposed at times. Nine starters return for this group, and that should be advantageous in adjusting to the 4-2-5 scheme put in place last year.
Fresno has four games that my model gives a 90%+ chance of winning :Cal Poly, UConn, New Mexico, and UNLV. I’m not giving the Bulldogs much of a chance against UCLA, Oregon, or Boise State.
I feel confident they will find at least two wins in their remaining five coin-flip games that they should never be more than a 3-point underdog in.
Utah State Aggies Over 4.5 Wins
Utah State has made it to a bowl game in eight of the last 11 years, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that from last year’s 1-5 squad.
The COVID-filled season affected the Aggies more than most, as they were outscored by an average of 20 points per game. The win total is set low at just 3.5 but they’re making the necessary changes to get the program back to its winning ways.
They bring in Blake Anderson as head coach, who previously took Arkansas State to six consecutive bowl games from 2014-19. His offenses broke 12 school records during that span and now looks to recreate that same effort in Utah. He brings with him the Arkansas State quarterback, wide receiver, and linebacker, along with six Power Five transfers to stir this program up.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing that the Aggies own just a 59% offensive TARP and 54% defensive TARP, as the incoming transfers should offer a boost in the talent levels.
Utah State plays a fortunate schedule that includes four opponents (North Dakota, UNLV, New Mexico State, and New Mexico) that are projected to be worse than Utah State. The Aggies will be competitive against both Hawaii and Colorado State. They may also catch Air Force sleeping after the Falcons match up against Navy the week before.
I’m playing over 3.5 wins for a program that will see a boost in the talent level, an upgrade at head coach, and a favorable schedule.