Blake Anderson leads the Utah State Aggie football team onto Merlin Olsen Field on Sept. 25, 2021. Photo by Clint Allen
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Defending Mountain West Champion Utah State has been picked third in the Mountain Division of the 2022 MW preseason polls, it was announced Wednesday at the league’s annual Media Summit held at The Mandalay Bay.
Utah State went 11-3 in 2021 and won the Mountain Division with a 6-2 record. USU then posted a 46-13 win at No. 19 San Diego State to win its first-ever MW Championship and culminated its season with a 24-13 win against Oregon State in the inaugural Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl. USU concluded the year ranked 24th in both national polls.
Boise State was picked to win the Mountain Division title as the Broncos garnered 14 first-place votes and earned a total of 151 points. Air Force received 10 first-place votes and 136 points for second place, followed by Utah State with three first-place votes and 122 points. Colorado State received one first-place vote and 90 points, followed by Wyoming (60) and New Mexico (29).
Fresno State was chosen to finish atop the West Division with 20 first-place votes and 160 points. San Diego State claimed the other eight first-place votes and 148 points to place second behind the Bulldogs, followed by San José State (105), Nevada (66), UNLV (58) and Hawai’i (51).
This marks the 10th and final 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 best conference record.
Utah State returns 12 starters (O-7, D-5) as part of 32 letterwinners (O-15, D-13, S-4) from last year’s team that had its best season in program history as it tied the school record with 11 wins.
Utah State set 10 school records during the 2021 campaign with its 41 touchdown passes (32 in 2018), 4,248 passing yards (3,825 in 2018), 8.45 passing yards per attempt (6.84 in 2018), 334 first downs (310 in 2013), 180 passing first downs (164 in 2018), three receivers with 10-plus touchdown receptions, two blocked punts in one game (vs. San Diego State), eight wins away from home, seven road wins and two wins against Power 5 schools. USU also tied four more school records with its 11 wins, 14 games played, (2013, 2014, 2021), 13 100-yard receiving games (1996) and five passing touchdowns in a single game.
Utah State was the first Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team ever to go from zero or one win (2020) to 11 or more wins (2021) in one season. Utah State’s 10-game improvement last year was tied with Baylor (2-7 in ‘20 to 12-2 in ‘21) and Michigan (2-4 in ‘20 to 12-2 in ‘21) for the best turnaround in the nation as the Aggies were 1-5 in 2020 and went 11-3 last year. Utah State was the first Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team ever to go from zero or one win (2020) to 11 or more wins (2021) in one season. Utah State went 7-0 on the road and 8-0 away from home for the first time in school history in 2021 and USU was the first FBS team in eight years to post a 7-0 road record.
Utah State finished the 2021 season averaging 445.6 yards per game to rank second in the Mountain West and 22nd in the nation. USU was also third in the MW and 15th in the nation in passing offense (303.4 ypg), third in the MW and 33rd in the nation in scoring offense (32.6 ppg), fourth in the MW and 26th in the nation in passing efficiency (151.8), fourth in the MW and 74th in the nation in completion percentage (.601), sixth in the MW and 85th in the nation in rushing offense (142.1 ypg), and seventh in the MW and 68th in the nation in sacks allowed with 32 (2.29 pg).
Utah State’s offense was also first in the MW and 11th in the nation in first downs with 334 (23.9 pg), second in the MW and 17th in the nation in passing yards per completion (14.02), and second in the MW and 21st in the nation in third down conversions at 44.8 percent (100-of-223).
Utah State finished the 2021 season averaging 7.9 tackles for loss per game to lead the Mountain West and rank sixth in the nation, while its 114.0 total tackles for loss were tied for the second-most in the nation. USU was also sixth in the MW and 48th in the nation in scoring defense (24.4 ppg), seventh in the MW and 60th in the nation in sacks with 32 (2.29 pg), eighth in the MW and 70th in the nation in passing defense (230.9 ypg), eighth in the MW and 84th in the nation in rushing defense (161.9 ypg), ninth in the MW and 62nd in the nation in pass efficiency defense (131.8), and ninth in the MW and 77th in the nation in total defense (392.7 ypg).
Utah State’s defense was also first in the nation in fourth down conversions allowed at 25.0 percent (5-of-20), and third in the MW and 28th in the nation in third down conversions allowed at 34.6 percent (63-of-182).
Utah State held each of its final three opponents last season to 13 or fewer points and five of its last six opponents to 17 or fewer points. The last time USU held three-straight opponents to 13 or fewer points was 1983. Furthermore, USU allowed 22 touchdowns on those 51 possessions in the red zone (.431) and that percentage ranked second in the MW and 10th in the nation.
Utah State will open the 2022 season on Saturday, Aug. 27, when it hosts Connecticut at 2 p.m., in a game that will be nationally televised on Fox Sports 1. USU then plays at Alabama on Saturday, Sept. 3, and hosts Weber State on Saturday, Sept. 10, before beginning MW play at home against UNLV on Saturday, Sept. 24, in a game that will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network at 5 p.m.
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.
2022 Mountain West Football Predicted Order of Finish
Rank Team (First-Place Votes) Points
- Boise State (14) 151
- Air Force (10) 136
- UTAH STATE (3) 122
- Colorado State (1) 90
- Wyoming 60
- New Mexico 29
Rank Team (First-Place Votes) Points
- Fresno State (20) 160
- San Diego State (8) 148
- San José State 105
- UNLV 66
- Nevada 58
- Hawai’i 51