Sports

What college football bettors should expect in Mountain West


VSiN’s college football expert takes a look at three teams with low win totals for the 2021 season (totals by BetMGM and DraftKings).

New Mexico Over 4.5: There was not a team last season I was more impressed with than New Mexico. The Lobos were forced to play home games in Las Vegas at Sam Boyd Stadium while regularly holding practices in hotel ballrooms as opposed to the usual facilities. Even so, Danny Gonzales led New Mexico to two wins and four covers in seven games in his first season as coach. They took games from Wyoming and Fresno State as 18- and 12-point underdogs in the final two games of the season, showing real improvement as the campaign went on.

This year, the Lobos bring back 17 starters, as well as key transfers such as Terry Wilson from Kentucky. There is a real possibility this team begins the season 2-0 with games against Houston Baptist and New Mexico State, meaning it would need just three more with a schedule that includes Air Force, Colorado State, UNLV and Utah State at home. Expect big things from the Lobos this season.

UNLV Under 1.5: The pandemic-shortened season in 2020 was a nightmare for many, but for Marcus Arroyo it was particularly awful one. Not only did UNLV go winless in his first season at the helm, but the Rebels seemed to get worse as the year went along. UNLV dropped each game by double digits and its defense put up its worst point per game mark (38.0) since the 2014 season.

This year the Rebels bring back 18 starters, but they do not have an established starting quarterback, they are making a scheme change on defense and they have a schedule that will be almost impossible to navigate by a team with this level of talent.

Their non-conference opponents include Arizona State, Iowa State and UTSA, games in which they will be sizable underdogs. Their winnable games come against Utah State, New Mexico and Air Force, and that is saying something given the fact that UNLV will be catching points in each of those matchups. It is almost impossible to find two wins on this schedule for the Rebels, and it seems another year at the bottom of the Mountain West is in store.

Utah State Over 3: There is a lot to like about the Aggies this season. Blake Anderson takes over the program after leading Arkansas State to 51 wins and six bowls in seven years at Jonesboro, and he brings quarterback Logan Bonner along.

The team has 19 starters back from the 2020 campaign which will help Anderson’s transition, but more importantly, the schedule is very manageable. The Aggies have UNLV and New Mexico State on the docket this season, two programs with win totals of 1.5 and bottom-tier talent. From there, they must grab two more wins, which is plausible given they have home games against North Dakota, Colorado State and Hawaii on the schedule.

Much of this handicap is based on the improvement I expect to see from Anderson’s team as the season goes along, and three wins should be the lowest amount of wins this team finishes with.

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