What a ride that was! After a chaotic Week 13, which resulted in a three-way tie between Boise State, UNLV and San Jose State, the conference had to go to the computer to decide who would play for the 2023 Mountain West Title.
Using the Colley Matrix, Massey and Wolf and Anderson and Hester metric systems, the computer ultimately spewed out Boise State and UNLV; ideally, you would not want a computer to decide who’s competing for a conference title—especially in the MW’s first year without divisions—but ... parity! Chaos!
The game will tip off inside Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nev., at 3 p.m. EST on Fox on Saturday, Dec. 2. Similar to last year, I dove into the spread, over-under and my favorite prop bet ahead of this weekend’s conference championship showdown!
Now let’s dive into it, with the odds courtesy of the DraftKings Sportsbook!
(All lines are as of 9:00 am EST on Dec. 1)
Spread: Boise State -2.5 (-112)
This line opened at 2.5 at some booms and remained there throughout the week, thus that is the line we’re using as Friday rolls around. UNLV was a bettor's dream ATS all season, finishing 10-2 ATS with an average point differential (relative to the spread) at plus-9.8 points; it covered … a lot. Boise State? Not as much. After finishing 6-2-1 ATS in MW play last season, it went 4-4 ATS this year, though it’s covered in four of their last five games against Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah State and Air Force. Since firing Andy Avalos, the Broncos are playing some of their most complete football, albeit a very small sample. I’ll likely stay away from this side, but I’d lean towards Boise State — even though I’m pinching my nose and closing my eyes with this pick. If you think UNLV covers, I’d lean with the moneyline in this spot.
Pick: Stay away, but lean Boise State -2.5 (-112)
While this is a game between two good defenses, this year’s Mountain West Title game features two top-25 offenses who are capable of putting up points in a hurry. The Broncos have offensive player of the year Ashton Jeanty, who recorded 1,109 yards on the ground and 537 more yards through the air with 18 total touchdowns, in the backfield. Their offense has produced 437.3 yards of offense—6.5 yards per play—and 32.0 points per game this season, all of which rank inside the top-40 nationally. UNLV, meanwhile, is top-20 in scoring offense (35.5 ppg) and just outside the top-35 in total offense (424.5) and yards per play (6.2). The Runnin Rebels’ are spearheaded by the conference’s freshman of the year in Jayden Maiava, who took over behind center midseason for an injured Doug Brumfield and never relinquished the job. He’s completed 64.1 percent of his attempts for 14 touchdowns and six interceptions. UNLV’s defense was a little more sturdy than Boise’s this season—especially against the run, which will be a factor against Jeanty—but both offenses ranked inside the top-25 in EPA/play, so I’m expecting this to be a back-and-forth game. I’ll take the over here.
Pick: Over 59
Favorite (Dumb/Silly) Prop Bet: UNLV Team Total o28.5 points (-115)
This coincides with the over. The Rebels have surpassed this team total in all but three of their games this season and are averaging 38 points over their last four games. If you want to get even more greedy, I’d also look to playing an alternate total o30.5 (+114); I really like how this offense matches up against Boise. I expect the full bag of tricks from Brennan Marion, one of the best, most innovative young offensive coordinators on the West Coast.