We did this post last year and it’s back again for 2021. Here are the current over/underbetting lines for each MWC team via our friends at https://www.sportsbettingdime.com/. Take a look at each teams over/under for wins, with some thoughts from each team writer, and feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments section.
Boise State 9.0
Danny - Boise State has a tough schedule in 2021 with out-of-conference road games at UCF and BYU and a home game with Oklahoma State. Add a trip to San Diego to close out the year and 9 wins seems like the right number.
To add to the difficulty of leaning one way or another on the over/under, Boise State has a new coaching staff and there may be a learning curve early in the season while adjusting to a new offense.
That said, the talent level and excitement surrounding the program, and Avalos’ ability to scheme opponents so well defensively, leads me to take the over. Call it a 10-2 regular season for the Broncos.
San Diego State 8.5
Zach - The Aztecs have a very manageable schedule this season. New Mexico and Towson should be two easy out-of-conference wins. They play at Arizona and host Utah, both of those teams will be down next year and it is hard to see the Aztecs being much of an underdog. I think they go 3-1 in out of conference play. Conference play is where it gets interesting New Mexico and UNLV appear to be sure wins, but the rest of the conference games could go either way. I’m going to go with 8-4, but think 9-3 is possible. I’m taking the under, but barely/
San José State: 8.0
Vic - Last year it was 5.5 and I was all in with the over. With the analytics and trends back then, it seemed clear to me to say they could very much compete with the likes of San Diego State, Hawaii, Nevada, etc. and, of course, the Spartans did it on their way to the MWC title.
In 2021, having not watched any Spartan spring ball except the spring scrimmage, I don’t have the luxury I had last year with an actual frame of reference, but with all teams mostly intact from last season, we all know what’s coming and who’s coming at you. Bottom line, it will be tough to repeat as champions, but maybe less tough to at least say SJSU has back-to-back winning seasons.
With most of us here bullish on our teams, I’ll also take the over on the Spartans based on one intangible - there’ll be no complacency because there still is a huge chip-on-the-shoulders of these Spartans to prove 2020 wasn’t a fluke. Tangibly, they have maturity, depth and talent.
Matt - Although Nevada won seven out of its nine affairs in its COVID-shortened 2020 campaign, the bar set at 7.5 wins feels accurate. Three of the Pack’s first four games are on the road — California (1-3 in 2020), Kansas State (4-6 in 2020) and Boise State (5-2 in 2020) — which will all pose a challenge. Within those three games alone, I’ll chalk up two victories. Nevada’s first two home games will be non-conference showdowns. Okay, maybe “showdowns” was a bit bold. But its two home games among its first five will be against Idaho State and New Mexico State. Nevada should breeze by both handedly. Its home slate — that includes Hawai’i, San Jose State, UNLV and Air Force — feels manageable. At the minimum, barring any drastic injuries, I see the Pack splitting those aforementioned games. With Boise State on the road, they also face Fresno State, San Diego State Colorado State will be the easiest. With the Rams as their most feasible foe on paper, it will be a much tougher slate for a bunch that played just two of their nine games out of the Silver State last year. With Nevada’s high-powered offense led by quarterback and reigning Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year Carson Strong, along with the return of wideout Elijah Cooks to its bevy of skill position weapons, Nevada’s offense should score enough points to keep in every game this season. Verdict: Over
Jeremy - Some might see the number 7 and think it’s too high, keep in mind: Hawaii plays 13 games. You’re either feeling confident enough to predict 8-5 with the over, or stay safe by passing. The schedule has its ups and downs. Hawaii avoids Air Force and Boise State from the Mountain Division, but plays two Pac-12 teams on the road. All three California Mountain West teams play at Aloha Stadium, err, I mean Clarence T.C. Ching Complex, and Hawaii plays New Mexico State twice (bizarre, I know). The schedule seems favorable, but again Vegas is making you get off the fence by setting the line at an even 7. The September game against San Jose State just feels awfully pivotal. Starting 3-2 exiting September, I feel good about the over. 2-3, not as much. My actual gambling advice would be to avoid betting here. I’ll be a contrarian and defy picking over or under. I’ll say push. 7-6.
Air Force: 7.0
NittanyFalcon - I think the Falcons might have their best defense since Weston Steelhammer was tormenting the Broncos. The offense will no doubt be able to move the ball, but with a complete changeover of the offensive line, I don’t see them being as ruthlessly efficient as they have been the last couple of years. Those two factors offset each other, so we should see a similar level of performance.
I see 6 should-win games on the schedule (Lafayette, Navy, Utah State, New Mexico, UNLV, and FAU) and 2 likely losses at Boise and at Nevada. I suppose most people would see San Diego State as a likely loss, but the game is in Colorado Springs, and the Falcons almost always play well at home. Also it’s been three years since the Aztecs have seen the triple option, and Rocky Long is no longer there to remind them how to contain it. Trying to predict the Army-Air Force game is almost impossible. Usually the home team has the advantage, but the game is being played at a neutral site in Dallas. The Wyoming game is at home, and the Falcons have had a decisive edge against the Rams the last few years. With all those factors considered, I would think a split of the 4 closest matchup is likely, and I see the Falcons finishing with a 8-4 record. Take the over.
Fresno State: 6.0
Matt- With the O/U being right at bowl eligibility, I think that I’ll take the Over on this one. Although, that is 100% reliant on the offensive line being improved. Things were all sorts of crazy in Kalen Deboer’s first season at the helm, and the team ended up at .500. Now, they did miss games against SJSU and SDSU, and true clunkers against Hawaii and UNM can probably be down to 2020 being a mess. The offense should be incredibly dynamic with Jake Haener, Ronnie Rivers, Jalen Cropper, and Keric Wheatfall. As long as the defense can limit the damage from opposing offenses, always a challenge in the MWC except for the 2018 unit, the offense should be able to handle any team in a track meet. Games against Oregon and Boise are probably out of reach, games against UCONN, Cal Poly, and UNLV should be easy wins. The rest of the schedule is a complete toss-up, so getting at least 3 wins out of the bunch should be doable in Year 2 of the DeBoer era.
Mike - This is a tough one. The Cowboys are basically a bowl team year in and year out. Their defense should be strong and getting back those who opted out last season will make them even stronger. However, the question is always their passing game, specifically their passing game. I’ve gone on record saying I’m in “prove-it” mode with their offense, as they have consistently been mediocre for years. While their offense may take a step forward this season, it remains to be seen. Looking at their schedule, they should sweep their non-conference slate, playing one FCS team and three G5 teams. Looking at the conference side, New Mexico, Colorado State, Utah State, and likely even Hawaii are all winnable games. Winning three of those four puts them at seven wins. I’m taking the over, as it seems very likely at this point.
Colorado State: 5.5
Lute - I don’t know if it’s the hopeless optimist in me about CSU’s football program under the direction of Steve Addazio, but taking the over on 5.5 wins for the Rams this year seems like a no brainer. CSU has majorly fortified both offensive and defensive lines, saw tremendous improvement in the defensive backfield last year under Cheluck Heater, and have major weapons on offense. The obvious question mark is Quarterback. By all accounts though, Temple transfer Todd Centeio has taken the job by storm with an impressive spring camp. We all saw the speed he possesses last year. If he can be a somewhat accurate passer, watch out, because he has the potential to be a legitimate threat behind center. I may be too gung-ho on this year’s Rams squad, but I also think those not looking closely haven’t noticed the significant strides this program has made heading into year 2 under coach Addazio.
Utah State: 6.0
-Graham: Utah State enters year one under Blake Anderson with big challenges ahead of them. They must build on what was a disappointing season last year and must do so fast if they want to stay in the conference championship race. The Aggies must play Air Force and Boise State in back-to-back weeks, two games that are going to be major factors in deciding the division. Not only that but Utah State also starts the season by facing Washington State and plays BYU after Boise State. In order for Utah State to improve on last year they must find consistent playmakers at the receiver position and find a way to prevent big plays on defense. With the new energy Blake Anderson seems to have brought to the Aggies, I do think they go over six wins. They may only make it to seven or eight but it isn’t unlikely for this team to get over six wins.
New Mexico: 4.5
Adam- One of the biggest reasons the Lobos finished 2-5 was that they played the entire 2020 season outside the state of New Mexico. Not being at home, not seeing friends, and being cooped up in small hotel room on and off time can wear on anyone emotionally, but especially with young college kids. It also didn’t help that the Lobos were ravaged with injuries throughout the season.
With that being said, the Lobos were on the cusp of winning several more games last season. They had Hawai’i on the ropes before allowing a couple long touchdown passes late. They were in the game against Nevada, only to falter late. And the defense practically served up one for the offense against Air Force, forcing four Falcon turnovers deep in Air Force territory, only to come away with zero points. Then with two games to play, something clicked and the Lobos won their last two over Fresno State and Wyoming, both of which they were huge underdogs going into.
This season’s schedule is filled with winnable games, though. The Lobos open with Houston Baptist. Then the rest of the non-conference slate contains New Mexico State, UTEP sandwiched around a trip to College Station to meet the Aggies of Texas A&M. They should beat UNLV, and will be in games with Colorado State and Utah State. And given that the Lobos add dual threat Terry Wilson to the roster, the Lobos could very well contend with others on their schedule too.
All in all, I’m taking over 4.5 wins all day.
Alex - UNLV’s schedule would be challenging for nearly any Mountain West team, but the Rebels have a tremendous uproad challenge after they went winless last season. Their non-conference schedule has Arizona State, Iowa State and UTSA. They open their season against FCS opponent Eastern Washington, which isn’t going to be easy, but is likely the most winnable game in the non-conference. The entire West Division is stacked and every team besides UNLV could be a contender for a bowl game. UNLV’s two best chances at winning conference games are against Utah State and New Mexico, and even those won’t be shoe-in’s. Eastern Washington, Utah State and New Mexico are the three realistic games UNLV can win and even if that happens, UNLV needs to play a solid game in each one as its margin of error will be thin. There is still spring ball that has to be finished and this Rebel team could surprise us, but I would say take the under.
Your turn: How many wins do you think your team will reach in 2021?