College football conference odds: Boise State, Fresno State set lead the way in the Mountain West

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Fresno State defensive backs Cam Lockridge (20) and LJ Early (27) tackle Boise State wide receiver Davis Koetter during the second half of an NCAA college football game for the Mountain West championship, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Boise, Idaho. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)

We’ll preview every major conference in the Football Bowl Subdivision between now and the start of college football season on Aug. 26 through the lens of sports bettors. Each preview will include a shallow dive into the favorites, long shots and our favorite pick(s).

We will provide the full list of odds for the conference, as well as links to other conferences, toward the end.

We’ll start with the non-power five conferences and work our way toward the big fish in the pond, finishing with the Southeastern Conference. When the season begins, you’ll have a comprehensive look at the top divisions in the sport.

We’ll continue today with the Mountain West.

Last season

The Mountain West saw a fourth unique football champion win the conference in as many years in 2022. Fresno State (10-4) captured its first Mountain West title since 2018 with a commanding 28-16 win over Boise State (10-4) on the road.

This triumph helped seal a 10-win season for the Bulldogs, something that didn’t seem possible earlier in the year. Fresno State opened the season with four consecutive losses (Oregon State, USC, Connecticut and Boise State) after a week one win over Cal Poly. Jeff Tedford’s team then went on to rattle off nine consecutive wins, capture a Mountain West championship and win the LA Bowl.

The Broncos also won 10 games on the season after going a perfect 8-0 in conference play during the regular season. Following the disappointment in the MWC Championship, they bounced back nicely with an impressive 35-32 win over North Texas in the Frisco Bowl.

Air Force (10-3), Wyoming (8-5), San Jose State (7-5) and San Diego State (7-6) were the other teams that finished above .500 in the Mountain West.

Favorites

Boise State (+220) and Fresno State (+260) have combined to win six of the last 10 Mountain West titles. One of the teams has appeared in seven of the last 10, as well, so it’s safe to assume history will repeat itself in 2023.

Oddsmakers at Caesars Sportsbook believe this to be true as the Broncos and Bulldogs are favored to meet at the end of the season for a second consecutive season.

Boise State is getting the slight edge with Las Vegas considering it doesn’t have to replace as many pieces on offense. The Bulldogs bring back the best rushing attack in the conference. Meanwhile, Fresno State is tasked with replacing QB Jake Haener, RB Jordan Mims, WR Jalen Moreno-Cropper and OC Kirby Moore.

Air Force (+425) was the only other team in the conference to win 10+ games in 2022. The Falcons will have to replace key running-game pieces in Haziiq Daniels and Brad Roberts next season. However, Troy Calhoun has always embraced the “next man up” philosophy as he looks to win 10 games for a third year in a row in 2023.

If quarterback Jalen Mayden — a former San Diego State safety — continues to develop his arm throughout the offseason, watch out for the Aztecs. San Diego State (+750) has the talent needed to compete in a top-heavy conference.

Longer shots

As is the case with many teams in the Mountain West, quarterback play will be key for Wyoming (+1000). Andrew Peasley hasn’t shown that he can be a reliable complement to an efficient running game and solid defense. If the Cowboys could develop the passing game a bit more, they’d be able to get over the edge and maybe win 10 games.

San Jose State (+1200) is a real dark horse candidate with one of the conference’s best quarterbacks, Chevan Cordeiro, coming back in 2023. The reason the Spartans sit at 12/1 is because the rest of the team is a low more raw than their signal caller. Cordeiro can only lead this bunch so far before other players step up and take charge on both sides of the ball.

UNLV (+1600) is likely only getting shorter than 20/1 odds because HC Barry Odom and OC Brennan Marion are very good football coaches. They will have to turn the Rebels around quickly if they even want to have a winning record.

Value picks

Boise State (+220) probably gives you the most realistic shot at cashing any tickets at the end of the season. Las Vegas’ reluctance to shorten their odds any further works in the bettor’s favor as there is still better than 2/1 value here. A dominant rushing attack goes a long way in the Mountain West, especially during those ugly midseason bouts where the Broncos will be fighting the elements.

A lot of people will be all over Air Force as their value pick after a solid 10-win campaign in 2022. However, we like the potential of both San Diego State (+750) and San Jose State (+1200).

Both California schools have solid quarterback play, and the importance of that cannot be understated in college football. If Fresno State struggles to replace key pieces, the West Division will be up for grabs for either of their in-state rivals to take advantage of. At +750 and +1200 respectively, it’s worth a flyer, no?

Full Mountain West odds and win totals

(Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook, as of Wednesday, July 19)

 Team  Division  Title odds   Win total 
 Boise State  Mountain  +220  8.5 (u-140)
 Fresno State  West  +260  8.5 (u-130)
 Air Force  Mountain  +425  8.5 (o-120)
 San Diego State  West  +750  7 (u-125)
 Wyoming  Mountain  +1000  6.5 (u-155)
 San Jose State  West  +1200  5.5 (o-140)
 UNLV  West  +1600  6 (u-145)
 Colorado State  Mountain  +2200  5 (u-140)
 Utah State  Mountain  +2200  5 (o-125)
 Nevada  West  +4000  4 (o-150)
 Hawaii  West  +10000  3.5 (o-140)
 New Mexico  Mountain  +10000  3.5 (u-145)

College football conference pieces

July 12: MAC

July 13: Conference USA

July 19: Mountain West

July 26: Sun Belt

Aug. 2: American Athletic

Aug. 9: Pac-12

Aug. 15: Big 12

Aug. 16: ACC

Aug. 22: Big Ten

Aug. 23: SEC

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