Last season, Boise State edged Fresno State 17-14 in the Mountain West Conference championship game and at -150 the Broncos are the heavy favorites to claim back-to-back MWC titles. The Broncos finished last season with a 7-1 conference record and an 11-3 record overall. Boise State also picked up the 2014 championship, once again topping Fresno State in the final.
MWC Betting Favorite: Boise State Broncos
In 2017, Boise State stumbled somewhat out of the gate, posting a 2-2 record in its first four games. After that, the Broncos rhymed off seven straight victories, averaging 37.7 points per game over that span. They led the conference with 285 points scored, while allowing the fourth-fewest points against (169). The Broncos’ lone conference loss came against the Fresno State Bulldogs, a loss they avenged one week later at home in the MWC championship game.
One of the bright spots for Boise State last season was freshman DE Curtis Weaver. The California native amassed 11 sacks, all of which were solo, in 2017-18, good enough for 13th best in the NCAA. Only two other players had more solo sacks than Weaver, and both of those players were more experienced. Expect another leap forward with more reps and another season under his belt. Another player expected to take another step forward is running back Alexander Mattison. The junior rushed for 1,074 yards on 209 attempts while adding 12 TDs in his sophomore season, which was his first year as the lead rusher.
On the other side of the ball, the Broncos defense as a whole was near the top of the NCAA with 26 turnovers gained throughout the season and ranked in the top 10 with 13 net turnovers overall. The one area that could hurt Boise State is the health of the starting quarterback, senior Brett Rypien. Last year the Washington native was banged around a few times, including sustaining a concussion in their second game. Rypien split time with the more mobile Montell Cozart, though Rypien did get the lion’s share of the snaps. The senior QB’s stats reflect the split snaps as he finished with under 3,000 passing yards for the first time in his three-year career.
Overall, the Broncos have a well-rounded team with an above-average defense. They will be relying on a step forward by that defense led by Weaver. There shouldn’t be any surprise that Boise State is the odds-on favorite to win the MWC.
Can Fresno State Hold Off San Diego State?
The San Diego State Aztecs are at +450 and the Fresno State Bulldogs at +500 to clinch the Mountain West Conference championship. Last season, Fresno State appeared in its record third MWC championship game, losing to Boise State. The Bulldogs hold just a 1-2 record when vying for the title, breaking through in 2013 while falling short in 2014 and 2017.
Bulldogs head coach Jeff Tedford turned around a squad that went 1-11 in 2016 to a 10-4 team in 2017. Because of that tremendous turnaround, he was named a national coach of the year finalist. The area of strength last season for coach Tedford was his defense, which ranked 15th in the NCAA allowing 320.6 yards per game, which was 60 yards more than first-place Alabama. There should be more growth in that aspect of the game as Fresno State has all of its starting back seven returning. On the offensive side of the ball, the Bulldogs will have starting QB Marcus McMaryion returning for his senior year, coming off the best season of his college career as he amassed 2,384 yards, nearly double the 1,286 yards he put up in his sophomore year. McMaryion’s favorite target KeeSean Johnson is also returning. The wide receiver finished 29th in the NCAA with 1,013 receiving yards while adding eight touchdowns. Overall, Fresno State went 7-1 in the MWC last year with its only loss coming against UNLV. The team earned a 28-17 home victory over Boise State in the season finale.
San Diego State will look to knock off Fresno State in the West. The Aztecs put in a strong 2017 campaign, sporting a 6-2 conference record and a 10-3 record overall. Their only two conference losses were to Boise State and Fresno State, and their third loss overall came against Army in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. Much of the Aztecs attack came from running back Rashaad Penny, who led the NCAA with 2,248 yards and added 23 rushing touchdowns. However, the speedster was picked up by the Seattle Seahawks 27th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. The offense shouldn’t miss a beat, though, as now-junior Juwan Washington takes the helm in the backfield. Washington rushed for 715 yards on 122 attempts last year while tacking on seven TDs. Expect a big leap forward with him getting the bulk of the carries in 2018. Added to San Diego State’s offense, its defense ranked 11th in the NCAA, allowing just 314.5 yards per game and holding opponents to 20.2 points per game.
The West Division is up for grabs between these two heavy hitters. All eyes will be on their clash at Bulldog Stadium in Week 12. The Sportsbook in that battle should be in a prime position to kick off for the MWC championship.
Wyoming Offering Good Value
At +1600 Wyoming could provide some good value for bettors. First of all, last year’s Cowboys offense was HORRIBLE. It ranked 125th out of 129 teams in the NCAA by averaging 286 yards per game, while ranking 104th in scoring an average of 23.5 points per game. That’s all with QB Josh Allen at the helm but he’s gone now (drafted seventh overall by the Buffalo Bills). Recently, the Cowboys announced that redshirt freshman Tyler Vander Waal will be the signal-caller in 2018. Sophomore RB Trey Woods got injured in late May and was feared to be in jeopardy of missing the entire 2018 season, however, he has returned but has made the switch to the defensive side of the ball. The offense can only go up from where it was.
Where is the value?! The defense of the Cowboys is quite impressive and has eight starters returning. They were 23rd in the NCAA, allowing 335.2 yards per game. It’s an interesting split between the air vs ground attack, though, as the Cowboys ranked 13th allowing just 174.9 passing yards per game but were 60th in the NCAA allowing 160.3 rushing YPG. Opponents struggled against the Cowboys, averaging just 17.5 points per game, and the Cowboys defense also created an NCAA-leading 38 turnovers, six more than second-place UCF.
Overall, the defense can keep Wyoming in a lot of games, providing great starting field position for the offense. If Vander Waal can step in and protect the ball and move it moderately better than last season, the Cowboys at +1600 can shake up the MWC East Division.
|Boise State Broncos||-150|
|San Diego State Aztecs||+450|
|Fresno State Bulldogs||+500|
|Utah State Aggies||+1200|
|Nevada Wolf Pack||+4000|
|Colorado State Rams||+5000|
|Air Force Falcons||+6600|
|Hawaii Rainbow Warriors||+6600|
|New Mexico Lobo||+10000|
|San Jose State Spartans||+25000|
Odds as of August 29 at Sportsbook