San Diego State Aztecs Odds to win the Mountain West Conference with Expert Betting Predictions
The Aztecs must be feeling like they smell or something. Last year they shared Qualcomm Stadium with the Chargers and the Poinsettia Bowl. Now the Chargers have moved up the road to Carson, and the bowl game folded. At least San Diego State won't have to compete as hard for attention, I guess. And it's a pretty good time for sad San Diego football fans to shift their attention to the Aztecs. They are coming into the season as two-time defending Mountain West Conference champions - not an easy crown to win in that eternally-challenging conference. Winning it wasn't easy, but defending that title a second time will be even tougher.
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2016 in a Nutshell
The first 10 games went as well as you could have hoped - with one notable exception. Somehow the Aztecs managed to lose to South Alabama, a Sun Belt team that wound up 6-7. It was a game in Mobile, but that doesn't make it any better. The final score was 42-24, which means they lost by 18 while favored by 18.5. Bizarre, and impossible to predict. They bounced back strong, though, winning their next six. Then they lost a heartbreaker at Wyoming, falling 34-33 in perhaps the best game I watched all year last year. They followed that up with their second head-scratching performance of the season, losing at home to a pretty mediocre Colorado State squad by 32 when favored by 12. It wasn't a game that mattered for anything, though, because they had already clinched the division. They got a second shot at Wyoming in the MWC title game and came out on top by a field goal this time. And then they beat up on Houston, which was playing after Tom Herman had left for Texas, in their bowl game.
It was a very good season that could have been much more if they could stay focused for 13 games instead of 11.
Key Additions and Departures
More than perhaps any other team in the country aside from Clemson, San Diego State comes into this season without their heart and soul - and the engine that drove the offense. Running back Donnel Pumphrey, the all-time yardage leader in FBS history, was drafted by the Eagles. Losing a guy that ran for 2,133 yards last year is going to hurt - there is no way around that. It's somewhat comforting, though, that Pumphrey's backup Rashaad Penny also eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark last year and should be capable of much more in the primary role. Part of the success on the ground - a Top 10 run offense nationally - was the offensive line, and there are changes there, too. They lost four starters. The news isn't all bad, though. They still have six guys who were in the rotation last year and some youngsters coming along with promise. They didn't run out to grab JUCO players or grad transfers, so they aren't panicked. They are stable at QB and with receivers, so their passing game, such as it is, will be much the same.
Defensively the team has been great lately - especially against the run. There is plenty of change - a couple of defensive ends are gone, along with two linebackers, two corners and a safety. That's less of a concern than it would be with a lot of teams, though, because San Diego State aggressively employed a rotation - partly by choice and partly due to injury - so they have more experience returning than you might first think. If you want to be worried about something it's that the secondary is younger than is ideal this year, but they have recruited well so there is talent there despite less experience than elsewhere. Another thing that has really helped this offense over the years is the running excellence on offense. That gives them plenty of time to rest and recover. Their success, to some extent, will depend on how well Pumphrey is replaced.
San Diego State Aztecs Schedule Analysis
The nonconference schedule is much tougher this year, though it doesn't start out that way - they should humiliate UC Davis out of the gate. Then they travel to Arizona State in a game that is quite winnable and then host Stanford in a game that will be much tougher to win. They open conference play at a rebuilding Air Force before playing their last nonconference game against Northern Illinois. They should win both. They also should win at UNLV, which comes right before a true coin toss of a game against Boise State. Then they have a strong chance to win out, since the last five games range from quite easy to downright simple as they travel through the likely cellar of the Mountain West. It's a mostly easy schedule, with a likely floor of eight or nine wins and the potential to climb from there. It is pretty much perfect for a team going through some changes while still remaining fairly competitive.
2017-18 San Diego State Aztecs Betting Odds and Trends
The Aztecs are the second choice to win the Mountain West at +155, not far behind favored Boise State at +100. They are the overwhelming -350 favorite to win the MWC West division. Second choice UNLV is far behind at +600.
The team was a champion on the field but not particularly at the betting window. They were essentially a break-even squad at 7-6-1 ATS on the year and failed to cover their last three games before the bowl outing. They went "over" the total in eight of 14 outings, with those coming in streaks - one of three straight and one of five.
2017-18 San Diego State Aztecs Predictions and College Football Picks
The Arizona State game should be telling. The Sun Devils aren't great this year, so if the Aztecs win big then it could be a special year. I don't really seem them beating Stanford, but everything else is in play. They will roll into the MWC Championship Game and have a look at a third straight title. I like the team a lot.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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