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Mountain West Football: 4 best bets ahead of 2023 season

Which futures should we wager entering 2023?

NCAA Football: New Mexico at Air Force Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

It’s that time of year, folks.

As we approach the 2023 College Football season, let’s examine four Draftkings Sportsbook bets in relation to the MWC Conference, plus four I would consider wagering. Without further ado, let’s hop into it!

Best bet #1: Colorado State o5 wins (-105)

I went out on a limb and predicted that Colorado State will finish as the best offense in the Mountain West this season, even though Boise State, Air Force and San Jose State are all fair bets. The Rams are entering year two of the Jay Norvell era after going 3-9 last year; in Norvell’s first year at Nevada, it went 3-9 and followed suit with an 8-5 season. Colorado State’s offense returns all of their key skill position players—including arguably the best receiver in the conference in Tory Horton and big arm quarterback Clay Millen—and has a good defense, led by Jack Howell and Mohamed Kamara. Winnable games against Colorado, MTSU, Utah Tech, Utah State, UNLV, Wyoming, Nevada and Hawai’i should put this team in a bowl game. I wouldn’t count them out against Washington State, Air Force, Boise State or San Diego State either—all of which will be at home.

Bet #2: Utah State u5 wins (-135)

This isn’t great value, per say, but arguably no Mountain West squad team lost more overall production on both sides of the ball than Utah State, losing nearly two dozen players to the transfer portal. They don’t begin the season on the right foot with Iowa, Air Force and UConn (who’s better) all on the road across their first five games. They do host Colorado State, Fresno State and Boise State with winnable games against Nevada, Idaho State New Mexico and James Madison, but I still don’t see a clear path to five wins without an upset or two.

Bet #3: Air Force o8.5 wins (-110)

Troy Calhoun’s squad has gotten to at least nine wins in three of the last four regular seasons. The only time they didn’t was in 2020, the COVID-shortened season, when they finished 3-3. While the Falcons do lose quarterback Haaziq Daniels and Brian Roberts, arguably the best fullback in program history. Though it’s not unusual for Air Force to supplement talent since they don’t have access to the transfer portal as an Academy. They return most of their offensive line and speedster tailback John Lee Eldridge, as well as eight starters from their defense that was one of the best in the nation a year ago. The newly-implemented cut-block rule didn’t affect the Falcons last season, leading FBS in rushing. Oh, and they have one of the easiest schedules in the country. This is a solid pedigree pick for me.

Bet #4: Air Force to win the Mountain West (+400)

Piggybacking what I said above, I think Air Force will be a top-2 team in the Mountain West. Their last—and only—MW Title appearance was in 2015, losing by three (27-24) to San Diego State in Qualcomm. I think Calhoun’s squad gets back to the title game and could potentially host it, but these are good odds.

Other wagers I’d consider:

Boise State o8.5 wins (+110)

  • Boise has a tough non-conference schedule against Washington, UCF, North Dakota and Memphis. But if they can find a way to go 2-2 with a manageable conference schedule, this team can get to nine wins. Their regular-season finale against Air Force becomes very crucial, though.

Fresno State u8 (+110)

  • This is one I’d completely stay away from because UCF transfer Mikey Keene could be one of the best QBs in the conference, but this offense was gutted over the offseason and I’m not sold on this iteration of Fresno being an 8-win squad, yet. This defense will still be really good, though, even without Evan Williams. That’s their path

Colorado State win MWC (+1600), Colorado State to make MWC Title game (+900)

  • I’m really high on the Rams, y’all. Two of my favorite longshots of 2023!

Wyoming o6.5 wins (+115)

  • While Wyoming continues to be on the wrong side of injury luck, it feels like a team you could pencil in for six wins. They also might have the best defense in the MWC, and we know Craig Bohl’s squad is going to a much better tackling team in 2023 than it was last year.

Odds come from DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook of Mountain West Connection and SB Nation.