Wyoming Cowboys Odds to win the Mountain West Conference with Expert Betting Predictions
Sports are weird sometimes. Josh Allen, Wyoming's quarterback, could likely have been a Top 10 pick in the draft last year - probably the second QB off the board after Mitch Trubisky - if he had opted to go into the draft. Instead, he chose to stay for one more year in Wyoming. He has a prototypical NFL QB build but far from the prototypical path to the top of the draft. He had no interest in high school so headed to Junior College. He had a stellar year there but still was getting so little attention that he sent hundreds of emails to coaches and coordinators literally begging for attention. Wyoming finally bit, and he came in to replace the injured starter and drove more than 80 yards in his opening possession in 2015. Hollywood type stuff. Then he shattered his collarbone on the next drive and his season was over. Last year few were talking about him entering the season - and why would they talk about an unrecruited, raw JC guy coming off a bad injury on a lousy team? Now he's potential NFL royalty. And he brings more pressure and attention to this Wyoming program than they have ever had.
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Really, though, we shouldn't be that surprised that head coach Craig Bohl found this diamond that no one else was interested in. When he was at North Dakota State he recruited Carson Wentz, who couldn't even get a MAC offer, never mind anything in a major conference. Wentz, of course, was drafted second overall in 2016. Bohl faced a massive rebuilding job here with the Cowboys, but his third season showed impressive progress, and after winning three straight FCS titles at North Dakota State, and building the foundation that won two more after he left, we certainly know he knows what he is doing.
2016 in a Nutshell
When you are coming off a season in which you finished 2-10 and lost to an FCS team at home, expectations are very low. No one had them finishing anywhere other than in the irrelevant depths of their conference's cellar. Certainly no one had them winning their division. They needed triple overtime to beat Northern Illinois in their opener, and then were crushed by Nebraska in Week 2. In Week 4 they lost an ugly one at Eastern Michigan.
But then something clicked.
They reeled off five straight, with the unquestioned highlight being the program's first-ever win over Boise State, a team that was ranked 13th and cruising to the new year's day bowls at the time. They avoided a letdown against Utah State next time out and then lost a bizarrely crazy 69-66 triple OT shootout at UNLV. They rebounded to clinch their division with their second huge win of the year, beating a ranked San Diego State team. But then it felt like things got a little too real for them. They lost at New Mexico in the season finale in a total dud of an effort. Then they lost the rematch with San Diego State in the Mountain West Championship Game. And they dropped a third straight in the Poinsettia Bowl, losing to BYU. The last two losses were by only a field goal each, so it's hardly disastrous, but the team still has work to do.
Key Additions and Departures
Allen's return was what really mattered most. Allen loses his top running back and top three receivers, though, so the QB certainly took a big gamble returning. There is still a fair bit of talent - certainly by the measure of a team like Wyoming - but the team will need a lot of sophomores with limited experience to figure things out in a real hurry. The line will be strong, though. They lose the starting center but have deep experience everywhere else and a good replacement to snap the ball.
All you need to do is to look at that UNLV game to know that the defense wasn't stellar for this squad last year. The squad needs to hope that the issue was inexperience, because the raw defensive unit loses only three players. Eight positions will have experienced guys who will need to get better in a hurry. There is some upside here, but nothing is certain. They do get a good boost in new defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton, though. He previously worked with Bohl at North Dakota State and has coached NFL linebackers in Jacksonville the last three years. It's a very good hire for Bohl.
Wyoming Cowboys Schedule Analysis
They have two chances to make a huge statement against teams that are in a race to figure out what they are in time to save this season. They open at Iowa and then host Oregon in Week 3. It would be easier to have faith if the offense was more intact or the defensive was easier to trust, but neither of those foes will be excited to see this game up next for them. One win in those two can't be expected but wouldn't be shocking. Their other two nonconference games are the easiest games they will play all year.
The conference schedule is a mixed bag. The three best teams in the conference are likely Boise State, San Diego State and Colorado State. Playing in Boise will be brutal, but they host Colorado State and don't play the Aztecs at all. They also host New Mexico - on Homecoming weekend, no less - as they seek revenge for last year's debacle. It could be worse. The path to bowl eligibility doesn't appear too tough given the schedule, but it will be what they can do in the bigger games that will define how the season goes.
2017-18 Wyoming Cowboys Betting Odds and Trends
The betting public hasn't bought into the Allen hype - there are 26 players listed with Heisman odds at BetOnline , and he is not one of them. And, not surprisingly, Wyoming also isn't one of the 36 teams listed with National Championship future odds. They are, however, the fourth choice at +900 to win the Mountain West at +900, miles behind Boise State at +100. You could argue for the presence of some relative value there. And they are the third choice to win their division at +375, behind Boise State at +155 and Colorado State at +250.
The team was a solid 9-5 ATS - a number that is far more impressive if you consider that they were 1-3 ATS through their first four. That weak defense also helped them go "over" the total nine times.
2017-18 Wyoming Cowboys Predictions and College Football Picks
I love college football, and I love seeing the best players play out their time, but a kid like Allen should have taken the money. So much could go wrong, and this is very likely a pretty ordinary team. I expect seven or eight wins, a mediocre bowl, and some decisive losses. If they can beat one of their big foes early on then I could be wrong, but I'm not optimistic. I believe heavily in Bohl but question just how far he can take this particular squad.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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