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Monday, December 10, 2018

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SDSU running back Rashaad Penny scores a touchdown. (Photo: Ernie Anderson) SDSU running back Rashaad Penny scores a touchdown. (Photo: Ernie Anderson)

SDSU Picked to Win MW West Division

It is the third consecutive season the Aztecs were picked to win the West Division of the Mountain West Conference.
By GoAztecs

The San Diego State University football team captured all 28 first-place votes en route to being picked to win the West Division of the Mountain West Conference in the 2017 preseason poll, the league announced at its annual Media Summit. It is the third straight season the Aztecs have been picked to win the West Division and the second consecutive year that SDSU has garnered all the first-place votes.

This marks only the third time in league history that a team has received every Mountain West first-place vote in the poll. Previously, Texas Christian University achieved this feat in 2010, followed by SDSU last season. Both of these teams went on to win the conference championship.

Media representatives who cover the conference vote in the preseason and all-conference team polls.

Building on success

SDSU is coming off an 11-3 season, knocking off Wyoming, 27-24, in the MW Championship game and Houston, 34-10, in the Las Vegas Bowl, to finish with a No. 25 ranking in both the Associated Press Top 25 poll and the Amway Coaches Poll. It was only the second time in program history that SDSU ranked in the final AP poll, also previously in 1977. The 11 wins tied a school single-season record as the Aztecs became the first team in program history with back-to-back 11-win campaigns. SDSU, which averaged a predicted finish of 6.5 from 2005-12, has been picked to win the West Division each of the last three years and was predicted second in both 2013 and 2014. SDSU has won two consecutive MW regular-season titles and three of the past five (2012, 2015-16).

The Aztecs have ended up at or better than their predicted finish in eight straight seasons and 11 times over the past 12 years.

Leading the pack

SDSU garnered 168 points, including all 28 first-place votes, followed by University of Hawai’i (135), University of Nevada, Las Vegas (105), University of Nevada, Reno (79), San José State (54) and Fresno State (47).

Boise State was once again picked to win the Mountain Division with 161 points, including 21 first-place votes, but did not make the MW Championship game either of the past two seasons. Colorado State trails the Broncos with 135 points and six first-place votes in that division, while defending division champion Wyoming was picked third with 114 points and the other first-place vote. Air Force earned 82 points for fourth, with New Mexico (68) and Utah State (28) rounding out the Mountain side.

Rashaad Penny was named the preseason special teams player of the year for the second straight season after earning the MW Special Teams Player-of-the-Year award in both 2015 and 2016. Penny also made the preseason all-conference team at running back for the first time.

Last season, Penny rushed for 1,018 yards and 11 touchdowns on 136 attempts (7.5 avg.), while adding 15 catches for 224 yards (14.9 avg.) and three touchdowns, and returning 20 kickoffs for 624 yards (31.2 avg.) and two additional scores. He was one of just nine players in the country with at least 11 rushing TDs and at least three receiving scores, and the only player with a kick return TD as well. Penny tied for second in the country in kick return touchdowns (2), ranked fourth in kick return average (31.2), tied for 20th in total touchdowns (17) and 29th in all-purpose yards per game (133.3). For his efforts, he became the second kick returner in MW history to win the league’s special teams player-of-the-year award twice (previously in 2015) and was first-team all-MW pick as a kick returner for the second straight season.

Last year, David Wells caught 25 passes (tied for third on the team) for 294 yards (11.8 avg.) and four touchdowns. The four touchdowns were tied for the 22nd most in the country among tight ends. According to Pro Football Focus, Wells caught 25 of the 29 passes thrown his way in 2016, the top percentage in the country (86.2) among tight ends (min. 8 receptions). Considered one of the best blocking tight ends in the country, Wells also caught a 2-point conversion. He was a second-team all-MW selection last season.

John Baron II is coming off a season where he set school records in field goals (21) and field goal percentage (.913), going 21-for-23 on the year. Baron, who enters the 2017 season with 19 consecutive makes from 50 or less yards, led the Aztecs with 119 points last season and ranked 10th nationally in field goal percentage, 20th in points per game among kickers (8.50) and field goals per game (1.50), and 35th in overall points per game (8.50). For his efforts, he became SDSU’s first Lou Groza Award semifinalist since J.C. Mejia in 2003 and was the first SDSU kicker to earn first-team all-Mountain West honors in program history.

The Aztecs did not have a defensive player on the preseason all-conference team, despite last year ranking first in interceptions (26), fifth in turnovers gained (29), sixth in rush defense (105.7), 11th in total defense (315.4), 17th in scoring defense (20.2), 18th in pass efficiency defense (115.5), 20th in first downs allowed (236) and 26th in sacks (2.7).

Experience the Aztecs live

2017 Aztec football season tickets and mini plans are now on sale. Season tickets start at $125, while mini plans start at $90. Fans can purchase tickets at, over the phone by calling 619-283-7378 or by visiting Qualcomm Stadium's Window E Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. PT and 5 p.m. PT.

The Aztecs kick off the 2017 season at 5:30 p.m. PT on Sept. 2 at Qualcomm Stadium against UC Davis.

2017 Mountain West Preseason Poll

West Division
1. SDSU (28 first-place votes) – 168
2. Hawai’i - 135
3. UNLV - 105
4. Nevada - 79
5. San José State - 54
6. Fresno State - 47

Mountain Division
1. Boise State (21) - 161
2. Colorado State (6) - 135
3. Wyoming (1) - 114
4. Air Force - 82
5. New Mexico - 68
6. Utah State - 28

2017 Mountain West Football Preseason All-Conference Team

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Josh Allen, Jr., QB, Wyoming
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Andrew Wingard, Jr., DB, Wyoming
Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year: Rashaad Penny, Sr., KR, SDSU

QB Josh Allen, Jr., Wyoming
WR Michael Gallup, Sr., Colorado State
WR Devonte Boyd, Sr., UNLV
RB Rashaad Penny, Sr., SDSU
RB Tyrone Owens, Jr., New Mexico
OL Jake Bennett, Sr., Colorado State
OL Austin Corbett, Sr., Nevada
OL Dejon Allen, Sr., Hawai’i
OL Aaron Jenkins, Jr., New Mexico
OL Mason Hampton, Sr., Boise State
TE David Wells, Sr., SDSU

DL David Moa, Jr., Boise State
DL Malik Reed, Jr., Nevada
DL Garrett Hughes, Sr., New Mexico
DL Mike Hughes Jr., Sr., UNLV
LB Jahlani Tavai, Jr., Hawai’i
LB Logan Wilson, So., Wyoming
LB Frank Ginda, Jr., San José State
DB Andrew Wingard, Jr., Wyoming
DB Andre Chachere, Sr., San José State
DB Tyler Horton, Jr., Boise State
DB Trayvon Henderson, Sr., Hawai’i

P Michael Carrizosa, Sr., San José State
PK John Baron II, Jr., SDSU
Ret. Rashaad Penny, Sr., SDSU