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Examining the Over/Under 2016 Win Totals for Conference USA's West Division

NicK Mullens

NicK Mullens

Conference USA's West Division may not be as talented as its East brethren, but it doesn’t appear to be as wide open as that side of the league either. Southern Miss should come out on top in the West rather easily although Louisiana Tech and UTEP may make things interesting.

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Related: Examining the Over/Under 2016 Win Totals for Conference USA's East Division

There are six teams in Conference USA's West Division. This article will apply the win totals from one Vegas casino and discuss if there is any value in these numbers. A selection is made based on the team's schedule, in which the games are broken down into three categories - easy wins, toss-ups and certain losses. Most conference games are in the toss-up category unless there is a clear difference in talent. 

Note: Over/under odds courtesy of South Point Casino

Conference USA West Division

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Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

(Over 7.5 wins +105...Under 7.5 wins -125)

Record Last Year: 9-4, 6-2

Returning Starters: 9 (6 on offense, 3 on defense)

Offense: Kenneth Dixon is gone, which means the offense will have to find weapons to get it rolling. Ryan Higgins figures to get the starting quarterback job with Trent Taylor and Carlos Henderson out wide. Can't complain too much about the offensive line, but who is running behind them?

Defense: The Bulldogs are rebuilding on this side as well. The good thing is Xavier Woods returns at safety and he had 56 tackles and three interceptions last season. There is some continuity on special teams.

Schedule: Louisiana Tech plays three of its first four on the road. The Bulldogs’ non-conference opponents are Arkansas, South Carolina State, Texas Tech and at UMass, with the only home game being the one against the FCS opponent. In all they have seven games away from Ruston.

Selection: Slight lean to the under. I wanted to lean heavy to the under with all the personnel losses from 2015, but Louisiana Tech has a very easy conference slate. The Bulldogs will need Higgins to do a lot of the heavy lifting until the run game gets going.

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North Texas Mean Green

(Over 2 wins -140...Under 2 wins +120)

Record Last Year: 1-11, 1-7

Returning Starters: 13 (7 on offense, 6 on defense)

Offense: One of the worst offenses in the country gets an Alabama graduate transfer in quarterback Alec Morris. He's going to struggle to move the ball despite having Jeffrey Wilson and three returning starters at wide receiver back. The offensive line wasn't very good last year.

Defense: I can't say much positive here as the team returns six starters from a group that allowed more than 40 points and 500 yards per game. Good luck co-coordinators Mike Ekeler and Troy Reffett.

Schedule: The Mean Green host SMU and Bethune-Cookman before road matchups with Florida and Rice. They also play at Army in mid-October amidst their C-USA slate.

Selection: I'd like to say there will be improvement, but I can't guarantee it. There are opportunities for wins, but I don't know if I can trust the defense to make enough stops.

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Rice Owls

(Over 6 wins +135...Under 6 wins -155)

Record Last Year: 5-7, 3-5

Returning Starters: 15 (7 on offense, 8 on defense)

Offense: Darik Dillard is going to be busy with Driphus Jackson not returning at QB. Only two returning receivers recorded at least 25 catches last year. The left side of the offensive line should be good.

Defense: It can only go up for the Owls after allowing the most yards per play in the nation (7.13). Ends Derek Brown and Brian Womac give coordinator Chris Thurmond something to build around up front.

Schedule: Rice plays three of its first five on the road. The Owls get Baylor at home as well as Prairie View A&M. They close out the season at Stanford.

Selection: Six wins seems about right. The shame of it is that I'd take the over at that price if I thought they could get there. The conference games represent most of Rice’s win chances with a road matchup against Army being a toss-up.

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Southern Miss Golden Eagles

(Over 8 wins -110...Under 8 wins -110)

Record Last Year:

Returning Starters: 12 (6 on offense, 6 on defense)

Offense: The Golden Eagles averaged almost 40 points per game last year and return three key pieces in QB Nick Mullens, RB Ito Smith and WR D.J. Thompson. The middle of the offensive line will be strong. Expect a small regression here.

Defense: One of the reasons for the great season was the defense. Southern Miss improved a bunch on this side of the ball and have key returnees in end Dylan Bradley and linebacker D'Nerius Antoine.

Schedule: Three of the first five games are at home although the opener is at Kentucky. It's winnable along with the next two at home against Savannah State and Troy. The final non-conference game is at LSU on Oct. 15.

Selection: I like the over. Even with the unexpected coaching change (Jay Hopson taking over for Todd Monken, who left for the NFL) I think the Golden Eagles are best team in the C-USA West and it may not be much of a battle. There appear to be too many sketchy defenses that Mullens and company should be able to take advantage of in 2016.

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UTEP Miners

(Over 5.5 wins -115...Under 5.5 wins -105)

Record Last Year: 5-7, 3-5

Returning Starters: 15 (8 on offense, 7 on defense)

Offense:The rare team that relies more on the run then the pass in college football. With running back Aaron Jones returning, that doesn't figure to change. Quarterback is a big question mark along with the WR group. As long as games are close, the running game stays in play.

Defense:The defense is moving to a 3-4 after running a 4-2 built around man-to-man coverage last season. Luckily Alvin Jones is back to man the linebacker corps. It's a veteran secondary that may have more pressure on it with the change in schemes.

Schedule:Four of the first six games are at home as the Miners open up with New Mexico State, at Texas and Army. UTEP has just five road games all year so this team could push for bowl eligibility.

Selection:I like the over. The run game is reliable and the defense is improved. The schedule lines up nicely for six or seven wins.< /p>

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UTSA Roadrunners

(Over 4 wins +105...Under 4 wins -125)

Record Last Year: 3-9, 3-5

Returning Starters: 12 (6 on offense, 6 on defense)

Offense: The Roadrunners experienced some growing pains in 2015 with no returning starters and now have first-year head coach Frank Wilson at the helm. They averaged just 22.6 points per game. Now they return several players, including 1,000-yard rusher Jarveon Williams.

Defense: The front line is going to be strong as the unit continues to utilize a 4-2-5 alignment. There are a lot of juniors and seniors in the two deep.

Schedule: UTSA continues its run of strong non-conference slate with road matchups against Texas A&M and Colorado State to go with home games against Alabama State and Arizona State. Three straight on the road to start November will be a rough way to close out the season.

Selection: Four is a good number. The problem comes that most of the winnable games aren’t until late in the schedule. I know the Roadrunners are scheduling up for money purposes, but eventually they have to change that if they hope to make a bowl. They are getting closer though as the program continues to build.

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.