Las Vegas • The Utah State Aggies are coming off a bowl appearance and return 18 starters, including a sophomore quarterback — Jordan Love — who unseated the incumbent starter as a freshman last year. On paper, anyway, Matt Wells' team appears poised for a return to contention in the Mountain West Conference.
The conference’s coaches and media, however, appear to be taking more of a wait-and-see approach with the Aggies.
USU was picked to finish fourth in the Mountain Division on Tuesday in both the coaches and media polls at the MWC media summit here at the The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Defending Mountain West champion Boise State was picked to win the Mountain Division title as the Broncos gathered all 22 first-place votes and earned a total of 132 points. The Broncos went 7-1 in league play last season and defeated Fresno State, 17-14, in the Mountain West Championship game. Wyoming received 95 points for second place in the Mountain Division poll, followed by Colorado State (82), Utah State (78), Air Force (52) and New Mexico (23).
Fresno State was picked to finish atop the West Division with 16 first-place votes and 126 points. San Diego State claimed the other six first-place votes and 116 points to place second behind the Bulldogs in the West Division poll, followed by UNLV (78), Nevada (72), Hawai’i (45) and San José State (25).
This marks the sixth season of divisional play for the Mountain West, which moved to the two, six-team divisional format in 2013 following the additions of San José State and Utah State. The Mountain Division is comprised of Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, Utah State and Wyoming, while Fresno State, Hawai’i, Nevada, San Diego State, San José State and UNLV make up the West Division. The two divisional winners will meet in the MW Championship Game on Dec. 1 at the home stadium of the divisional champion with the best conference record.
Utah State returns nine starters on offense and nine on defense from a team that tied for fourth in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West with a 4-4 record and finished the season at 6-7 after playing in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl.
Those 18 returning starters are the third-most in the nation behind only Florida (19) and Michigan State (19).
MOUNTAIN WEST FOOTBALL MEDIA POLL
1. Boise State (22), 132 points
2. Wyoming, 95
3. Colorado State, 82
4. Utah State, 78
5. Air Force, 52
6. New Mexico, 23
1. Fresno State (16), 126 points
2. San Diego State (6), 116
3. UNLV, 78
4. Nevada, 72
5. Hawaii, 45
6. San Jose State, 25
First-place votes in parenthesis