No love for Mountain West by oddsmakers

Posted: December 12, 2013 in General, NCAAF
Tags: , , ,

By Jesse Granger

Despite the Mountain West having one of its best years ever, its teams are still getting no respect from the odds makers.logo-banner

For the first time since its inception, the Mountain West Conference has six teams playing amongst the 35 bowls. Even more surprising, there could have been seven teams if San Jose State had not been left out of the mix with its 6-6 record.

Of the six teams, not a single one is favored. That’s right; all six teams are listed as underdogs. The biggest underdog being UNLV (7-5) getting 6.5 against North Texas (8-4) in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, and the smallest being Utah State (8-5) getting 1.5 against Northern Illinois (11-1) in the Poinsettia Bowl.

Even the conference champion Fresno State (11-1) is a 5.5 point dog to USC (9-4). The Bulldogs were one game away from playing for a BCS Bowl game, yet they find themselves as underdogs to a team that fired their coach during the season, and finished fifth in their own conference.

The Mountain West hasn’t given people much reason to be optimistic in recent years, finishing 1-4 last year in bowl games and 2-3 in 2011-12. But look a little further and you will see overwhelming success for the conference. In the five seasons prior to 2011, the Mountain West finished 18-6, winning 75 percent of their bowls.

So why is the conference getting no respect? Are the oddsmakers accounting for the dreaded East Coast bias?

Not so fast, one glance to the West will dispatch that theory.

The Pac 12 is sending nine teams bowling this year, also the most in the conference’s history, and all nine of them are favored to win. In fact, three of the teams are favored over Mountain West opponents – Washington State (6-6) over Colorado State (7-6) by 3.5, Oregon State (6-6) over Boise State (8-4) by 2.5 and the aforementioned USC over Fresno State.

The Pac 12 also lays claim to the third and fourth biggest lines of the entire bowl season, with Oregon (10-2) laying 13 against Texas (8-4), and Arizona State (10-3) giving up 14 to Texas Tech (7-5).

It’s not like the Pac 12 has exactly been lighting the bowl scene aflame in recent years. The conference boasts a dismal record of 10-16 since 2010. So what has oddsmakers slobbering over these West Coast teams?

The truth is, the Pac 12 has made a triumphant return to the ranks of the elite. Despite popular belief, the Pac 12 was a better conference than the SEC from top to bottom, and it’s only getting stronger. The conference’s giant USC has been lying dormant, but is on the upswing with the hiring of Steve Sarkisian. He left a blossoming Washington program that scooped up one of the best coaches in the country in Chris Peterson.

If the Mountain West can build on this year, maybe it can be in the position that the Pac 12 has found itself in, but until then – go make some money on those Mountain West dogs.

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