2012 Mountain West Football Conference Vegas Odds and Expert Predictions: Favorites and Sleepers to Win Championship MWC Football 2012 - The Mountain West is another non-BCS conference going through a remodel this season. National power TCU bolted for the Big 12, leaving Boise State as the only program in the MWC that consistently makes noise on the national level. However, the Broncos will be leaving for the Big East after this season, along with San Diego State. Meanwhile, Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii all join the MWC this season after leaving the WAC. Got all that? At least for this year, the MWC is a 10-team league, and here is a look at the top contenders for the conference crown.

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2012 Mountain West Football Conference Odds and Predictions: Favorites and Sleepers

The Favorite

Before heading off to the Big East next season, the Boise State Broncos will likely celebrate their final season in the Mountain West by winning a conference title. Quarterback Kellen Moore is no longer under center, but new starter Joe Southwick has history on his side, along with plenty of talent at the skill positions. The Broncos are 33-2 the last three times they have had to break in a QB, and with speedy receivers, an experienced offensive line and a playmaker like D.J. Harper at running back, Southwick and the offense won’t have any trouble putting points on the board. A defense that lost a ton of talent is the real concern, but Boise State is still the most-talented program in the MWC. If the Broncos can pull off an upset of Michigan State in the season opener, an undefeated season isn’t out of the question, especially with TCU now in the Big 12.

The Dark Horses

The top two returning offensive players in the MWC both play for the Fresno State Bulldogs. Quarterback Derek Carr is coming off a 26-touchdown season when he led the WAC in passing yards, and battering ram running back Robbie Rouse topped 1,500 yards a year ago to lead the WAC in rushing. Of course, both players put up those numbers while playing in a different conference, but there is no reason to think that their talents won’t translate to the Mountain West. In fact, the combination of Carr and Rouse should give the Bulldogs the most-balanced offense in the conference. Defense, on the other hand, could be a serious problem. Fresno State struggled to stop opponents last season on the ground and through the air, but safety Phillip Thomas returns from injury to sure up the secondary, and the few bright spots along the defensive front return, as well. This unit still won’t be great, but it should improve enough to allow the Bulldogs to have a shot in every conference game.

Another first-year MWC team that could make some noise is the Nevada Wolf Pack. After being one of the top teams in the WAC the last several years, Nevada will try to carry the success over to its new home. Considering the Wolf Pack went 4-1 against teams currently in the Mountain West, there is a good chance they will do just that. Coach Chris Ault’s unique pistol attack on offense has been giving defenses fits for years, and quarterback Cody Fajardo has the dual-threat abilities needed to make the system work. Fajardo was the WAC Freshman of the Year last season, and he should make a legitimate push for 2,000-plus passing yards and 1,000-plus rushing yards. The overall talent level as Nevada is solid, and getting Fresno State and Boise State at home this season gives the Wolf Pack a chance at pulling off the upsets needed to make a surprise run for the division title.

The Sleeper

Once in a while a player comes along that can change the culture of a program, and quarterback Brett Smith is on the verge of doing just that for the Wyoming Cowboys. He threw for more than 2,600 yards as a true freshman last season, and the Cowboys went 5-2 in the Mountain West and 8-5 overall. Not to mention that the only two conference losses came against Boise State and TCU. With Smith as the centerpiece of the offense and seven starters back on defense, Wyoming has the pieces in place to build on last year’s success. This program isn’t exactly a traditional powerhouse, but the Cowboys have a rising star at QB and nothing to lose. They will be dangerous test for the frontrunners.

Odds to win the Mountain West Championship
Boise State -300
Nevada +550
Fresno State +650
Wyoming +1200
Air Force +2000
San Diego State +2000
Colorado State +2500
Hawaii +3000
UNLV +5000
New Mexico +7500

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