Mountain West Conference Preview: Chasing Boise State

Aug 23, 2013 |
As soon as the Boise State Broncos joined the Mountain West Conference, they became the team to beat. Boise State, San Diego State, and Fresno State finished in a three-way tie at the top of the Mountain West last season. San Diego State lost a bunch of talent from last year, but Boise State and Fresno State are expected to contend for the title again in 2013. Utah State and San Jose State were added to the conference in the offseason.

Boise State Broncos (2012: 11-2 SU, 6-7 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +150
Season win total: 10

Why bet the Broncos: Even in a “down” year, Boise State went 11-2 last season and their two losses were by a total of six points. Chris Petersen has established himself as one of the best coaches in college football. Boise State’s defense has allowed less than 20 points per game in five straight seasons. Joe Southwick has a year under his belt as the starter, and he should be better in 2013.

Why not bet the Broncos: Boise State returns just nine starters from last year’s team. The Broncos don’t have as many talented skill position players on offense as they normally do, and that could hold this unit back. Boise State doesn’t have the talent at linebacker that they have had in recent years, which could make the defense a little less dominant.

Season win total pick: Under 10

Fresno State Bulldogs (2012: 9-4 SU, 11-2 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +225
Season win total: 10

Why bet the Bulldogs: The Fresno State passing game won’t take a back seat to anyone this year. Derek Carr is a star at the quarterback spot, and he has two amazing receivers in Josh Harper and Davante Adams. The Bulldogs have the best secondary in the Mountain West, and teams are going to struggle to air it out against this group. Fresno State hosts Boise State this year, and they don’t have to play Utah State at all.

Why not bet the Bulldogs: Fresno State has one glaring weakness and it is their kicking game. The Bulldogs may end up losing a close game or two due to the lack of an experienced placekicker. Fresno State lost three of their top four tacklers from last season. The Bulldogs have been inconsistent the past couple seasons.

Season win total pick: Over 10

Utah State Aggies (2012: 11-2 SU, 11-1-1 ATS)

Odds to win conference:
Season win total: 7.5

Why bet the Aggies:
Utah State was a couple plays away from being unbeaten in 2012. The Aggies return a ton of talent in 2013. Chuckie Keeton may be the best player in the conference, and he’ll be a great leader for the offense. Zach Vigil and Jake Doughty lead an amazing group of linebackers that are going to make a living in the opposition’s backfield.

Why not bet the Aggies: The schedule makers did Utah State no favors in their first season in the Mountain West. Utah State must play on the road in four of their first five games. Keeton is great, but there isn’t much talent at the wide receiver spot. The Aggies secondary is a question mark, and there are teams in the Mountain West who can take advantage of a soft secondary.

Season win total pick: Over 7.5

San Diego State Aztecs (2012: 9-4 SU, 8-5 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +750
Season win total: 7.5

Why bet the Aztecs: San Diego State Coach Rocky Long loves to run the football, and he has the perfect bruiser for his system in running back Adam Muema. Muema ran for 1,458 yards and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore last year. A strong defensive front allows the Aztecs to play a unique 3-3-5 defense. The Aztecs have a very talented group of linebackers to lead the defense.

Why not bet the Aztecs:
San Diego State turned the ball over 15 times in their four losses last season. The schedule is tough as the Aztecs must travel to take on Ohio State. They must also play both Boise State and Fresno State in conference action. Leon McFadden was a star at corner, but he is now in the NFL. The Aztecs secondary is a big question mark.

Season win total pick: Under 7.5

San Jose State Spartans (2012: 11-2 SU, 11-2 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +950
Season win total: 7.5

Why bet the Spartans: San Jose State knows how to get into the backfield. The Spartans defense sacked the opposing quarterback 42 times last year, and they finished the season with a whopping 92 tackles for a loss. Nick Fales and Noah Grigsby are great senior leaders for the offense at quarterback and wide receiver.

Why not bet the Spartans: The jump to the tougher Mountain West could be tough on a team that was accustomed to playing in the WAC. Can the team ever find a running game? Fales and the passing game are very good, but with absolutely zero balance this Spartans offense will likely find it hard to move the ball against top defenses.

Season win total pick:
Under 7.5

Nevada Wolfpack (2012: 7-6 SU, 4-9 ATS)

Odds to win conference:
Season win total: 5.5

Why bet the Wolfpack: Nevada has a very good nucleus of stars on the offensive side. Cody Fajardo is an ultra-talented quarterback who can do it all. Brandon Wimberly and Richy Turner are both reliable receivers who can rack up the yardage. This offense is going to score a lot of points again this year.

Why not bet the Wolfpack: Chris Ault will be a very tough head coach to replace. Few guys have changed college football the way Ault did, and he will definitely be missed. Nevada’s defense must replace seven of their top eight tacklers from last season. The secondary is definitely a weakness. This defense will give up the points in bunches.

Season win total pick: Over 5.5

Air Force Falcons: (2012: 6-7 SU, 3-10 ATS)

Odds to win conference:
Season win total: 6.5

Why bet the Falcons: Air Force has one of the best secondaries in the Mountain West. Kale Pearson is a quick quarterback who should do a good job running the triple option attack. Air Force seems to never be short on weapons at the running back spot, and that is the case once again this season.

Why not bet the Falcons: Air Force is undersized in the trenches every single year, and that has become a bigger problem now that the Mountain West is a stronger conference. The Falcons defensive line just cannot stop strong rushing games from running it down their throat every single play. There’s no balance on the offensive end.

Season win total pick: Under 6.5

Hawaii Warriors (2012: 3-9 SU, 4-7 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +4000
Season win total: 3.5

Why bet the Warriors: It is Norm Chow’s second year at Hawaii, and his system should start to resonate with players better in year two. Taylor Graham will be the new guy at quarterback, and he is a talented transfer from Ohio State. Hawaii has some good pass rushers at the defensive end spot, and the secondary is solid.

Why not bet the Warriors: Hawaii was absolutely miserable against the run in 2012. The Warriors are very thin at the linebacker spot, and that will be a problem. Chow still doesn’t have the type of players that fit well into his system, so it might take longer for things to get turned around. Hawaii has a brutally difficult schedule.

Season win total pick: Under 3.5

Colorado State Rams (2012: 4-8 SU, 4-6-2 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +4500
Season win total: 5.5

Why bet the Rams: Colorado State has amazing depth at the linebacker position. Shaquil Barrett and Corey James are the stars of the unit, but Colorado State has five or six very good linebackers. Donnell Alexander is a game breaker at running back. Alexander is the son of late NFL superstar Derrick Thomas, and he has tons of athleticism in a big and strong frame.

Why not bet the Rams: As good as the linebackers are, they must play behind a very poor defensive front. Colorado State’s defensive line was consistently pushed back last year, and the same should be expected in 2013. Who will be the team’s starting quarterback? The Rams have a great rushing attack, but they’ll need some balance offensively.

Season win total pick:
Over 5.5

Wyoming Cowboys (2012: 4-8 SU, 7-5 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +4500
Season win total: 5.5

Why bet the Cowboys: Wyoming has a tremendous passing game with junior Brett Smith at the helm. Smith threw for 27 touchdowns and just six interceptions last year. He has a brilliant group of wide receivers on the outside. All four starters from the secondary return from last season, and they should be the strength of the defense.

Why not bet the Cowboys: While the passing attack is awesome, the offensive line and the running game are not. Smith was hit far too often in 2012, and there is no running game to take the pressure off of Smith. Wyoming is weak in the trenches on both sides of the ball, and that is a big problem in an improved Mountain West Conference.

Season win total pick:
Under 5.5

New Mexico Lobos (2012: 4-9 SU, 6-5-1 ATS)

Odds to win conference:
Season win total: 4.5

Why bet the Lobos: Bob Davie did a great job making this team competitive in only one year. Davie brought a disciplined approach that made a huge difference right away. Kasey Carrier is a strong running back, and Davie loves to run the football. The New Mexico offensive line was much improved in 2012, and they should be even better this year.

Why not bet the Lobos: The passing game is non-existent, which makes it tough to move the ball against a team with a good defensive front seven. The Lobos are really lacking play makers on the defensive side of the football. The secondary was the worst in the Mountain West last year, and the front seven is terrible at pressuring the quarterback.

Season win total pick: Under 4.5

UNLV Rebels: (2012: 2-11 SU, 6-5-2 ATS)

Odds to win conference:
Season win total: 4

Why bet the Rebels: This is a team that wasn’t as far away as it seemed last season. They were very close in several of their losses. Running back Tim Cornett is a great guy to build the offense around. The UNLV offensive line should be the best it has been in years. The secondary has a lot of athleticism.

Why not bet the Rebels: Can UNLV ever stop the run? The Rebels have serious trouble in the middle of their defensive line, and good opponents exploit this at every single opportunity. Nick Sherry has been inconsistent at the quarterback position. The Rebels have lost 22 straight road games, so be careful betting them on the road.

Season win total pick: Over 4

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