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San Diego State Slated to Finish First in the West, Earning 19 of 21 First Place Votes

Aztecs favorites to win the West in 2020, which they have done 3 of the last 5 years.

San Diego State Aztecs safety Tariq Thompson (14) reacts after a fourth quarter interception against the Brigham Young Cougars at SDCCU Stadium. Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

San Diego State football has been projected to finish first in the West Division in the Mountain West’s Preseason Poll for 2020, announced today by the conference via Twitter:

The Aztecs were picked first in the West Division after receiving 19 of the 21 total first-place votes. Nevada received the other two first-place votes ahead of Hawai`i (third), Fresno State (fourth). San José State (fifth) and UNLV (last).

What makes the decision a bit surprising, is SDSU is losing a plethora of key players due to graduation or the NFL. Notably, they will be without CB Luq Barcoo, LB Kyahva Tezino, QB Ryan Agnew, RB Juwan Washington, OG Daishawn Dixon, and OC Keith Ismael, not to mention Head Coach Rocky Long also moving on. Despite this, Mountain West media members showed complete confidence in new HC Brady Hoke and his roster heading into 2020.

The offense has talented players everywhere with Jesse Matthews and Kobe Smith out wide, a stable of serviceable runnings backs headed by Chance Bell, the underrated Daniel Bellinger at tight end, and three returning starting lineman. The only question mark is at quarterback, where they have redshirt sophomore Carson Baker and Georgia Tech transfer Lucas Johnson battling for the starting position.

Defensively, linebacker leaves a bit to be desired but their secondary and defensive line will leave Mountain West offenses shaking in their cleats. Upfront they have Cameron Thomas who only flashed his potential a year ago as well as Keshawn Banks who’s pass-rushing ability is second only to Thomas on the roster. On the backend, they are returning the elite safety duo of Tariq Thompson and Dwayne Johnson Jr. (of no relation to The Rock). Darren Hall also will be coming back to campus and is primed to have his best season yet.

If the Aztecs can figure out their QB situation as well as their linebacker issue, there is no reason why they can’t hold the division title, maybe even the conference title, upon the conclusion of the 2020 season.

On the Mountain Division side, Boise State was the runaway favorite for first place, earning all but one first-place vote. Wyoming narrowly bea tout Air Force for second place. Utah State finished fourth, followed by Colorado State (fifth) and New Mexico (last).

The Mountain West’s planned virtual media days for next week were postponed Monday and the league is announcing its preseasons predictions and honors this week. The 2020 Preseason All-Mountain West team will be announced early on Wednesday.