College Football: Mountain West Conference Betting Guide
The Boise State Broncos and Fresno State Bulldogs have meet in the Mountain West Conference championship game in each of the last two seasons. Can we expect a third straight championship game between these two teams?
Boise State is the prohibitive favor to win the Mountain West Conference championship as they are listed at -105. Here's a look at the conference title odds, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, for the Mountain West Conference along with four teams that provide the best betting value.
|San Diego State||+700|
The Chalk: Boise State -105
I'll start with the bad news: the Broncos are going to have to replace two of the best players in school history at quarterback (Brett Rypien) and running back (Alexander Mattison). The team is still undecided whether Chase Cord, Jaylon Henderson, or Hank Bachmeier is going to start at quarterback.
Now the good news: the Broncos return 14 starters from a team that went 10-3 (third straight 10-win season). The strength of schedule, or lack thereof, should play into the Broncos' hands as they have one of the easiest schedules in 2019. They will avoid playing two of the better teams in the Mountain West Conference (Fresno State Bulldogs and San Diego State Aztecs) due to the rotating schedule the conference utilizes.
The toughest conference game will be on the road against the Utah State Aggies, but that's not until late November. That should be plenty of time for the team to break in a brand new quarterback and running back.
According to Jeff Sagarin's Ratings, Boise State's 27th-place preseason ranking is by far the highest out of any other Mountain West Conference school (next closest is Utah State at 56th).
Best Value: Utah State Aggies +700
The case against Utah State starts with the lack of experience on offense. The Aggies return just one starting offensive lineman and two total offensive starters from 2018. The good news is that one of those starters is senior quarterback, Jordan Love.
The case for Utah State to win the conference championship: senior quarterback, Jordan Love, returns to Utah State after throwing for 3,567 yards and accounting for 39 total touchdowns in 2018. Additionally, Love led Utah State to 11 wins and ranked 10th (among quarterbacks) in the NCAA in points responsible for with 18.0 points per game. Plenty is expected out of the talented signal caller as the university has started a Heisman campaign for Love.
Despite welcoming a couple of new starters to the secondary, the defense should be stout with David Woodward and Tipa Galeai (both linebackers) leading the way. Both defenders were second-team all conference performers in 2018.
Utah State will see a familiar face on the sidelines this year as Gary Anderson replaces Matt Wells (who left for the Texas Tech Red Raiders). As noted above, the Aggies' toughest conference matchup will be at home against Boise State in late November (posted a 6-0 record at home in 2018). This game will most likely decide which team represents the Mountain Division in the Mountain West Conference championship game.
Longshot: Hawaii Warriors +2500
The case against the Hawaii Warriors starts with their defense. In 2018, the defense allowed a staggering 35.1 points per game. Fortunately, the Warriors return nine defensive starters in 2019. The early season schedule won't do Hawaii any favors as they start out against three Pac-12 schools (Arizona Wildcats, Oregon State Beavers, and Washington Huskies) and have an early date (sixth game of the season) against Boise State on the blue turf in Boise, Idaho.
The case for Hawaii to win the conference championship: all Mountain West Conference second-team quarterback, Cole McDonald, returns in 2019. Last season, McDonald put up video game like passing numbers in the Warriors' run-n-shoot offense despite nursing a painful injury for several games. The talented signal caller threw for 3,875 yards (eighth in the country), 36 touchdowns (sixth in country), and 10 interceptions.
Hawaii will also return two of their top three wide receivers, top two running backs, and an experienced offensive line. While the early-season schedule may be difficult, Hawaii will host, arguably, the top two teams (Fresno State and San Diego State Aztecs) in their division at home.
You probably won't find many college football teams that have a potential NFL draft pick under center along with a defense that returns most of its starters at 25/1 odds.
Bonus: Air Force Falcons +1300
The Air Force Falcons return two veteran quarterbacks (Isaiah Sanders and Donald Hammond III), five of their top six running backs, and four starting offensive linemen from 2018. The Falcons went 5-7 last season, but all seven losses were by less seven points or less. If they can manage to flip the script in close games, they'll be in the conference championship mix at the end of the season.