USU football picked to finish third in Mountain Division of Mountain West

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Utah State football has been picked third in the Mountain Division of the 2016 Mountain West preseason polls, it was announced Tuesday at the league’s annual Media Days held at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

Boise State was picked to win the Mountain Division title as the Broncos garnered 27 of a possible 29 first-place votes and earned a total of 172 points. Air Force received the two other first-place votes and 126 points for second place in the Mountain Division poll, followed by Utah State (111), Colorado State (95), New Mexico (74) and Wyoming (31).

Defending Mountain West champion San Diego State was chosen to finish atop the West Division with all 29 first-place votes and 174 points. The Aztecs went 8-0 in league play last season and defeated Air Force, 27-24, in the Mountain West Championship game. SDSU concluded its season with a 42-7 win against Cincinnati in the Hawai’i Bowl to finish the year with an 11-3 record. Nevada claimed 129 points to place second behind the Aztecs in the West Division poll, followed by San José State (122), Fresno State (76), UNLV (73) and Hawai’i (35).

This marks the fourth 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. 3 at the home stadium of the divisional champion with the highest College Football Playoff Committee ranking.

Utah State returns 12 starters (O-9, D-3) and 38 letterwinners (O-20, D-15, S-3) from last year’s team that finished tied for second in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West with a 5-3 record, and played in its school-record fifth-straight bowl game.

Over the last four years, Utah State is the only program among the Group of 5 (American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt) to record a win against an Associated Press Top 25 team each season. In 2012, USU won at No. 19 Louisiana Tech (48-41, OT). In 2013, USU defeated No. 24 Northern Illinois (21-14) in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. In 2014, USU was at No. 18 BYU (35-20). And in 2015, USU defeated No. 21 Boise State (52-26) at home.

Utah State’s offense in 2015 finished the season ranked sixth in the Mountain West and 64th in the nation in scoring at 29.0 points per game, while ranking fifth in the conference and 42nd in the nation in sacks allowed (1.60 pg).

Defensively, Utah State finished the 2015 campaign ranked among the top 45 in the nation in 10 categories, including ranking fourth in the Mountain West and 61st in the nation in scoring defense at 26.7 points per game. The Aggies also ranked third in the MW and 17th in the nation in total defense (332.5 ypg), fourth in the MW and 12th in the nation in passing defense (180.5 ypg), fourth in the MW and 47th in the nation in rushing defense (151.9 ypg), fifth in the MW and 48th in the nation in passing efficiency (121.8), and sixth in the MW and 67th nationally in sacks (2.10 pg).

Utah State’s defense also ranked first in the Mountain West and 11th in the nation with its 12 fumble recoveries, second in the MW and 25th in the nation with three touchdowns, third in the MW and 21st nationally in opponent third down conversions (.338), third in the MW and 22nd in the nation in first downs allowed (17.6 pg), fourth in the MW and 43rd nationally with its 22 turnovers forced, and sixth in the MW and 50th in the nation in tackles for loss (6.6 pg),

Utah State will open the 2016 season on Thursday, Sept. 1, at home against Weber State and will begin Mountain West play on Saturday, Sept. 24, at home against Air Force.

For Aggie football ticket information, fans can contact the USU Athletics Ticket Office over the phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or 435-797-0305 during regular hours of operation. Fans can also buy their tickets in person at the USU Ticket Office inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum or online by clicking on the “Buy Tickets” tab at www.UtahStateAggies.com.

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.

2016 Mountain West Football Predicted Order of Finish

Mountain Division

Rank Team (First-Place Votes) Points

1. Boise State (27) 172

2. Air Force (2) 126

3. UTAH STATE 111

4. Colorado State 95

5. New Mexico 74

6. Wyoming 31

West Division

Rank Team (First-Place Votes) Points

1. San Diego State (29) 174

2. Nevada 129

3. San José State 122

4. Fresno State 76

5. UNLV 73

6. Hawai’i 35

-USU-

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