Henderson, Nev. • How big of an impression did Utah State make in the Mountain West Conference after going 11-2 last season?
Big enough that the Aggies have been picked to finish second in the Mountain Division, behind favorite Boise State, as the MWC’s football media days began here Tuesday with its annual preseason poll. This despite having a new coach (Gary Andersen, in his return to Logan) and returning just nine starters off of last year’s squad (2 offense, 7 defense).
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that one of those starters is USU quarterback Jordan Love, tabbed as the Mountain West’s preseason offensive player of the year.
Other Aggies joining Love on the preseason all-conference team include senior defensive end Tipa Galeai, senior cornerback DJ Williams, junior kickoff returner Savon Scarver and junior linebacker David Woodward.
The Broncos were picked to win the Mountain Division title with 15 first-place votes and earned a total of 120 points. The Broncos went 7-1 in league play last season and won the division. Utah State received the other six first-place votes and 108 points for second place in the Mountain Division poll, followed by Air Force (73), Wyoming (66), Colorado State (52) and New Mexico (22).
Defending Mountain West champion Fresno State was picked to win the West Division as the Bulldogs garnered 17 first-place votes and earned a total of 122 points after going 7-1 in league play last season and defeating Boise State, 19-16 in overtime, of the MW Championship game. San Diego State claimed three first-place votes and 106 points to place second behind the Bulldogs in the West Division poll, followed by Nevada (74), Hawai’i (67), UNLV (51) and San José State (21). The Rainbow Warriors received the other first-place vote in the West Division.
Utah State’s offense finished the 2018 season leading the nation in scoring drives under one minute with 29, was second in the nation in scoring at 47.5 points per game and third in average margin of victory at 25.3 points per game. USU’s offense was also fourth nationally in sacks allowed with 10 (0.77 per game), 11th in total offense (497.4 yards per game), 12th in third down conversion percentage (.473), 14th in passes had intercepted (6) and team passing efficiency (154.39), 17th in passing offense (294.2 yards per game), 20th in completion percentage (.652) and 31st in rushing offense (203.2 ypg).
During the 2018 season, Utah State’s offense set single-season school records with its four 60-point games and seven 50-point games. The Love-led offense overall piled up 618 points and 79 touchdowns. Those 618 points scored in 13 games set the Mountain West record, which was previously held by BYU, which scored 608 points in 14 games in 2001.
Utah State’s defense finished the 2018 season leading the nation in turnovers forced with 32, passes intercepted with 22, and three-and-outs forced with 5.69 per game. USU was also second in the nation in non-offensive touchdowns (10), third in turnover margin (+1.08) and defensive touchdowns (6).
Utah State will open the 2019 season on Aug. 30, on the ACC Network at Wake Forest at 6 p.m. (MT) and begin its home season the following weekend against Stony Brook on Saturday, Sept. 7 at 5:30 p.m.
Mountain West play begins for USU two weekends later at San Diego State on Saturday, Sept. 21, in a game that will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network and begin at 8:30 p.m. (MT).
MOUNTAIN WEST PRESEASON POLL
Rank Team (First-Place Votes) Points
1. Boise State (15) 120
2. Utah State (6) 108
3. Air Force 73
4. Wyoming 66
5. Colorado State 52
6. New Mexico 22
Rank Team (First-Place Votes) Points
1. Fresno State (17) 122
2. San Diego State (3) 106
3. Nevada 74
4. Hawai’i (1) 67
5. UNLV 51
6. San José State 21