LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Utah State football has been picked second in the Mountain Division of the 2014 Mountain West Conference preseason polls it was announced Tuesday at the league’s annual Media Days held here at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Boise State was tabbed as the preseason favorite in the Mountain Division as they garnered 20 first-place votes and 183 points after finishing the 2013 season with a 6-2 MW mark (8-5 overall) and playing in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. USU received 12 first-place votes and 176 points for second-place in the Mountain Division, followed by Colorado State who received one first-place vote and 135 points. Wyoming was picked fourth with 90 points, followed by New Mexico (56 pts.) and Air Force (53 pts.).
Defending league champion Fresno State was the preseason favorite in the West Division with 15 first-place votes and 174 points after finishing 2013 with a 7-1 MW mark (11-2 overall) and playing in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. San Diego State was second with 15 first-place votes and 172 points, while Nevada was tabbed third with three first-place votes and 130 points. UNLV was picked fourth with 95 points, followed by San Jose State (87 pts.) and Hawai’i (35 pts.).
Utah State returns 14 starters (O-6, D-5, S-3) as part of 38 letterwinners (O-17, D-18, S-3) from last year’s 9-5 team that won the Mountain Division of the Mountain West Conference in its first year in the league, played in the inaugural Mountain West Championship game and defeated No. 24 Northern Illinois, 21-14, in the 2013 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.
Utah State concluded the 2013 season by winning six of its final seven games to tie the 1960 and 1961 teams for the second-most wins in school history. With its win against Northern Illinois, Utah State posted back-to-back bowl wins for the first time in school history as it played in its third-straight bowl game, also a first at USU. Utah State also set the school record for conference wins as it posted a 7-1 league mark in its first season in the Mountain West.
Utah State ended the year ranking tied for 37th nationally in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ polls with two votes each, marking the second time in as many years that USU has concluded the season ranked among the top teams in the nation as the 2012 team was ranked 16th in the final AP poll, 17th in the final coaches’ poll and 22nd in the final Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings.
Utah State’s offense in 2013 ended up being one of the best in school history, statistically, as it set single-season school records for pass completions (297), total offensive plays (1,073), touchdown passes (30) and first downs (310), including first downs passing (156), while its 445 points scored and 481 pass attempts both rank second all-time. Furthermore, USU’s 56 touchdowns rank third all-time and its 31.7 points per game average ranks fifth all-time in school history.
Utah State’s 2013 defense ranked among the top 15 in the nation in four different statistical categories, including being ranked first in Mountain West and seventh in the nation in scoring defense (17.1 ppg), which is the second fewest points allowed by an Aggie defense since 1965. USU also ranked first in the MW and eighth nationally in rushing yards allowed (106.7 ypg), first in the MW and 12th in the nation in total defense (330.9 ypg), and first in the MW and 15th in the nation in pass efficiency defense (113.2).
This marks the second season of divisional play for the conference, 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 making up the West Division. The two divisional winners will meet in the MW Championship Game on Dec. 6, 2014 at the home stadium of the divisional champion with the highest College Football Playoff Committee ranking.
Utah State will open the 2014 season on Sunday, Aug. 31 at Tennessee and play its first home game the following weekend against Idaho State on Saturday, Sept. 6 at 6 p.m.
Fans can follow the Aggie football program at twitter.com/USUFootball or on Facebook at Utah State Football, as well as on Instagram at instagram.com/USUFootball. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on Facebook at Utah State University Athletics.
<strong>2014 Mountain West Football Predicted Order of Finish</strong>
Rank Team (First-Place Votes) Points
1. Boise State (20) 183
2. UTAH STATE (12) 176
3. Colorado State (1) 135
4. Wyoming 90
5. New Mexico 56
6. Air Force 53
Rank Team (First-Place Votes) Points
1. Fresno State (15) 174
2. San Diego State (15) 172
3. Nevada (3) 130
4. UNLV 95
5. San Jose State 87
6. Hawai’i 35
– USU –