The San Jose Spartans were the cream of the Mountain West crop last season, closing the curtain on the truncated 2020 campaign with an undefeated conference record and a 7-1 overall mark. Ending as the 24th ranked team in the nation, San Jose State brought a little shine to a conference that is often overlooked in favor of the Power 5 that routinely boasts top 10 teams.
So, now that football is finally on the horizon, we can begin to think about who’s who and what the oddsmakers are dealing in both the college and NFL odds. In this article, we will focus specifically on the lightly heralded and underappreciated Mountain West Conference. Without further ado, let’s gaze into our crystal ball and peer into the future.
Fab 4 Mountain West Conference Favorites
Boise State (+100) – Projected 2021 record: 10-2 (8-0)
There’s a reason why the oddsmakers have the Broncos as the favorite to win the MWC championship and it’s because they are projecting to be head and shoulders above the rest with a conference schedule that poses no real threat. The out-of-conference dangers on their schedule lie in BYU, Oklahoma State, and UCF. Two of those three could very well be losses and one of them could come as early as Week 1 when the Broncos travel to UCF.
A new head coach in Andy Avalos gives us some cause for pause but he is no stranger to Boise State, having played linebacker as a student and then returning as a member of outgoing head coach Bryan Harsin’s staff for seven seasons. After two years as the defensive coordinator for Oregon, he will now be the main man in the big chair for the Broncos this season.
Nevada (+400) – Projected 2021 record: 8-4 (6-2)
The MWC West should be a hotly contested race throughout and while some will point to San Jose State to win the division, and perhaps the MWC championship, our money is on the Wolf Pack. However, it should be noted that only one of the top six strongest foes on their schedule will be a home game while the other five will take them on the highway.
Quarterback Carson Strong looks like the real deal after tossing for over 2800 yards with 27 passing touchdowns and only four picks for a 70.1 completion percentage last season. He will get his top target, Elijah Cooks, back after he suffered a season-ending injury in the first game of the year against Wyoming.
San Jose State (+450) – Projected 2021 record: 8-4 (6-2)
We believe San Jose State will end with an identical record to Nevada but the tiebreaker will occur on November 6th when the Wolf Pack welcomes the Spartans to Reno. There Nevada will notch another victory and send the Sparties home grimacing.
San Jose State has the luxury of returning most of their starters and their defense should be every bit as menacing as it was last season. But on the offensive side of the ball, the twin terrors of Tre Walker and Bailey Gaither have departed and that will be a void impossible to fill. And it is for that very reason why we see SJS as just a half-click below Nevada in the MWC West.
Wyoming (+700) – Projected 2021 record: 9-3 (7-1)
Don’t take the Cowboys for granted this season. They have a new offensive coordinator in Tim Polasek replacing the outgoing Brent Vigen who filled the vacancy at Montana State as their new head coach. Wyoming also boasts one of the best offensive lines in the conference which will go a long way towards blowing holes for their rushing attack and protecting the platoon of talented quarterbacks, sophomore Sean Chambers, and redshirt freshman Levi Williams.
But it will be their chaos-makers on the defensive side of the ball that will run amuck this season after several opted out last year. All 11 starters will return and that spells doom and gloom for their MWC opponents. The Cowboys’ schedule is far from daunting with their only likely loss coming on November 12th when they visit Boise State.
In fact, it would not be out of the realm of possibility that this 9-3 team could very well end up with an 11-1 record. That would put the Cowpokes in line for a major bowl game and win them quite a bit of respect from their MWC foes.
And the Rest
Hawaii (+1000) – Projected 2021 record: 5-8 (2-6)
San Diego State (+1400) – Projected 2021 record: 7-5 (4-4)
Fresno State (+2200) – Projected 2021 record: 7-5 (4-4)
Air Force (+2800) – Projected 2021 record: 8-4 (6-2)
Colorado State (+4000) – Projected 2021 record: 4-8 (3-5)
Utah State (+5000) – Projected 2021 record: 3-9 (3-5)
New Mexico (+20000) – Projected 2021 record: 2-10 (1-7)
UNLV (+20000) – Projected 2021 record: 1-11 (1-7)