The Mountain West Conference may lack some intrigue this year with the usual suspects at the top. Boise State figures to take the Mountain Division while the West will go to either Fresno State or San Diego State. This article will take a look at every team's prospects for the upcoming season. We'll see how sharp the South Point Casino sportsbook is with regards to their win totals and if there's any value when it comes to the over/under for each team.
Over 4.5 wins -125...Under 4.5 wins +105
Non-Conference Games: Stony Brook, at Florida Atlantic, Navy, at Army
Arion Worthman and Isaiah Sanders represent two really solid options at quarterback. Worthman had 13 rushing touchdowns and 10 TD passes in 2017. The running game could be more successful and maybe we see a few more passes with better WRs in place. The defense has to be better than last year because six starters return. After going 17-1 at home over a three-season span, the Falcons went 3-3 there last year and that has to change.
Verdict: At this price I'm looking at the under especially since Air Force will probably struggle at home again this year.
Over 10 wins +105...Under 10 wins -125
Non-Conference Games: at Troy, UConn, at Oklahoma State, BYU
The Broncos have two of the best players in the conference in QB Brett Rypien and DE Curtis Weaver. Rypien leads an offense that returns five other starters including running back Alexander Mattison. There are some intriguing options at wide receiver although most of the guys are pretty young. Top linebacker Leighton Vander Esch is gone on defense, but otherwise nine starters return. The D is going to be really strong. Boise has four road games over the first seven weeks of the season.
Verdict: 10 is about right.
Over 5.5 wins -110...Under 5.5 wins -110
Non-Conference Games: vs. Colorado, Arkansas, at Florida, Illinois State
The Rams continue to play SEC teams out of conference and who knows how it's affecting them. CSU has only nine total starters back and will be without key pieces on both sides of the ball. Nick Stevens and Michael Gallup are both gone so the offense will have to find a new quarterback and go-to receiver. The offensive line also is experiencing some turnover with just two returning starters. Defensive struggles are going to be expected too although the back end could be serviceable.
Verdict: I came up with 4-5 wins for Colorado State so the under may be worth a look.
Over 4 wins -105...Under 4 wins -115
Non-Conference Games: Incarnate Word, at Wisconsin, at New Mexico State, Liberty
New offensive coordinator Calvin Magee comes over from Arizona and figures to employ a run-based spread offense. The backfield will need to be sorted out but there are plenty of options at wide receiver. The Lobos will need someone to emerge at QB after finishing near the bottom of the FBS ranks in passing offense last season. The defense allowed nearly 400 yards per game last year. New Mexico was favored in five different matchups in 2017 but won just one of those games.
Verdict: The run defense will be stressed early and often with Wisconsin, Air Force and Boise State on the schedule. I think four wins is about right.
Over 7.5 wins -105...Under 7.5 wins -115
Non-Conference Games: at Michigan State, New Mexico State, Tennessee Tech, at BYU
The Aggies have three of their first four games at home and three of their final four on the road. Utah State was 6-7 last year and part of the reason was an inconsistent offense that scored 20 points or fewer four times. The maddening thing was that the Aggies scored 40 or more four times as well. Losing cornerback Jalen Davis will hurt, but there are enough returning starters that the defense will still be strong. Utah State is 40-19 at home over the last 10 seasons.
Verdict: No real feel for this one as I come up with 7-8 wins.
Over 6.5 wins -130...Under 6.5 wins +110
Non-Conference Games: at New Mexico State, Washington State, at Missouri, Wofford
The Cowboys get both Boise State and Utah State at home so that will help. They have gone 11-3 the last two seasons in Laramie. The problems start with replacing Josh Allen at quarterback although there are some interesting options. I really like the wide receivers and offensive line. Wyoming's defense has a chance to be one of the best in the Mountain West. The front four will get pressure on opposing quarterbacks, making everyone else's job easier.
Verdict: I agree with the line move on the over, but I'm not backing it at that price.
Over 8 wins -110...Under 8 wins -110
Non-Conference Games: Idaho, at Minnesota, at UCLA, Toledo
Jeff Tedford took this team from one win to 10 last year and has 14 returning starters. It all starts with quarterback Marcus McMaryion, who is in year two of the system so there should be some improvement after posting a 14:5 TD-to-INT ratio last season. He has plenty of weapons around him. The defensive line represents a huge question mark with no starters returning up front. The good news is the rest of unit is intact. Closing out at home with two straight is a nice finishing touch.
Verdict: I'm not quite as optimistic as Vegas about Fresno State so the under is probably worth a look.
Over 3.5 wins -150...Under 3.5 wins +130
Non-Conference Games: Navy, Rice, at Army, Duquesne, at BYU
One of these years you have to think Hawaii will get solid quarterback play. Season after season, the Rainbow Warriors struggle in that area and it's what's holding them back. Last year, they started out 2-0 but won just one more game the rest of the way. John Ursua is a real nice receiver to throw to with some other targets sprinkled in. The defense lost six of its top nine tacklers so things could be ugly there as well.
Verdict: I really don't recommend either side, but the price for the under is intriguing considering how many holes there are on this team.
Over 6 wins +115...Under 6 wins -135
Non-Conference Games: Portland State, at Vanderbilt, Oregon State, at Toledo
Ty Gangi threw 25 touchdown passes compared to 11 interceptions last season. He could be even better with a year under his belt in an offense that was fairly productive in 2017. The keys will be getting more out of the running game and finding a way to get the tight ends more involved in the passing attack. The defense should see some improvement especially after closing out the season strong. Fresno State, Boise State and San Diego State all come to Reno so there's a chance to maybe pull off an upset at home.
Verdict: I agree with the money move as this is one of the hardest schedules in the country. Not worth it at that price though.
Over 8.5 wins -115...Under 8.5 wins -105
Non-Conference Games: at Stanford, Sacramento State, Arizona State, Eastern Michigan
After a really tough road opener, the Aztecs get to be home for the next month before their next trip. They do have to play at Stanford, Boise State and Fresno State. Juwan Washington will have to replace Rashaad Penny at running back. Could the school have another tremendous ball carrier? Maybe, but SDSU needs more production from QB Christian Chapman and the passing attack. The defense has seven of its top 10 tacklers back and is typically strong under head coach Rocky Long.
Verdict: 8-9 wins is what I come up with so no play.
Over 2.5 wins -125...Under 2.5 wins +105
Non-Conference Games: UC Davis, at Washington State, at Oregon, Army
The Spartans play two straight teams off their bye week and have a double-dip against Pac-12 teams. San Jose State has 13 starters back from a team that went 2-11. The offense managed just 55 points in the final four games of 2017. There should be some improvement on that side of the ball but it's tough to gauge with the offensive line being rebuilt. Linebacker Frank Ginda is gone from a defense that struggled to stop any team. It will probably be another long season for the Spartans.
Verdict: 3 wins is a possibility, but I don't see much more.
Over 6 wins -115...Under 6 wins -105
Non-Conference Games: at USC, UTEP, Prairie View A&M, at Arkansas State
Tony Sanchez is in his fourth year and has been able to produce one more win than the season before. Armani Rogers spends his second year with the team and should continue to get better after posting mediocre numbers in 2017. Lexington Thomas leads a strong run game while the wide receiving group has some intriguing candidates. The defense was really rough last year so there should be some improvement there. The Rebels don't see Boise State and get Fresno State at home.
Verdict: Six is a great number as Sanchez continues his slow ascent leading UNLV.
-- 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.
(Top photo courtesy of broncosports.com)