Mountain West football media days have arrived in Las Vegas and they bring prophecies of the 2017 football season. Within the weakened West Division of the Mountain West, UNLV has been slated to finish third.
West Division Predicted Order of Finish
- San Diego State
- San Jose State
- Fresno State
San Diego State has won the West (and the conference title game) the past two seasons and are the clear favorites in a division that only saw one other team, Hawaii, go to a bowl game last season. The three teams behind UNLV will all have new coaches, as Nevada and San Jose State break in first time head coaches. Fresno State will be led by former Cal coach Jeff Tedford.
If you are keeping track, of the four West division teams that did not make a bowl three fired its head coach and one – UNLV – gave its coach an extension.
But the continuity is likely the reason UNLV is picked third in the division. While half of the division is undergoing change, the Rebels should start to show improvement in year three under Tony Sanchez.
The goal for Sanchez will be a bowl a game in 2017. A third place finish in the West would make that possible. In the five years the Mountain West has played under the current divisional structure, the third place team in the West has made a bowl four times.
In individual awards, Devonte Boyd and Mike Hughes were named to the preseason All-Mountain West team.
Through three seasons Boyd has averaged 54.3 receptions and 874.3 yards while grabbing a total of 19 touchdowns. He suffered a broken arm last year, as the Rebel receiving group was derailed by injury all season. But with health, Boyd should lead a group of receivers that will make freshman quarterback Armani Rogers’ life easier.
Mike Hughes is one of the few recognizable names that returns on the Rebel defense. The defensive tackle has started every game the last two years at UNLV. In 2017 Hughes posted 37 tackles and two sacks from an interior spot on the defensive line.
For the entire All-Mountain West preseason team click here.