Few conferences have been hit as hard by defections the last couple of years as the WAC. Boise State left two years ago, and last year Nevada, Hawaii and Fresno State all departed.
So the WAC was down to five teams, before adding a couple of Texas-based newcomers, Texas State and UT-San Antonio, both of which have been playing FCS ball. But defending champion Louisiana Tech is back, and they're heavy favorites to win the WAC again this year.
Here's a look at the upcoming season in the WAC, and conference championship betting odds from 5Dimes.
Louisiana Tech, with 13 starters back from a team that went 6-1 in conference play last year, is listed as a -175 favorite at 5Dimes to win the WAC again this season. Last year the Bulldogs also returned 13 starters, but had to break in a new QB.
The Bulldogs lost their first conference game, then won their last six in a row and gave heavily-favored TCU a tough time in a bowl game. This year Tech gets back senior QB Colby Cameron, plus four starters along the offensive line. However, they'll have to replace six starters on defense. Finally, the schedule looks like about a wash, as the 'Dogs split home and road games with the two other top contenders in the WAC, Utah State and San Jose State.
Those Aggies of Utah State are the second choice on the WAC championship board at +425. USU
returns 12 starters from a team that went 5-2 in conference last year, winning its last five WAC games, before losing a close one to Ohio in a bowl. The Aggies get back two QBs with starting experience and six starters on D, but they will have to replace last year's top two rushers. And the schedule presents two problems, namely road games at both Louisiana Tech and San Jose State.
Those SJSU Spartans are the third choice to win the WAC this year at +450. But they return only 11 starters from a team that went 3-4 in the WAC last year, and they'll have to replace their starting QB, leading rusher, three players along the O line and six on defense. The only saving grace might be that the Spartans get both Utah State and Louisiana Tech at home.
New Mexico State comes next at +1000 to win the WAC this year. These Aggies get just seven starters back from a team that went 2-5 in conference last year, and just three starters on a defense that gave up some big numbers last season.
And Idaho, with 10 starters back from a team that went a disappointing 1-6 in conference last year, is getting +1100 in Vegas to win the WAC this season.
Texas State and UT-San Antonio are both ineligible to win the WAC championship this season, but they might have a little something to say about who does. The Bobcats, under Dennis Franchione, return 16 starters for their first season of big-time football, while the Roadrunners, under Laker Coker, have 21 starters back.