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Boise State is the overwhelming favorite to win the Mountain West, according to the conference's preseason media poll, released Wendesday. The Broncos claimed 38 of 46 first-place votes, while UNLV and Fresno State each received four first-place votes while finishing second and third, respectively, in the poll.

The Broncos are the league's defending champion and a perennial conference title contender. But the Mountain West has featured four different champions over the past four seasons in a strong display of parity. Air Force and Colorado State rounded out the top five in this year's poll.

If Boise State is going to repeat as the league champion and challenge for the Group of Five's automatic bid to the College Football Playoff, it will likely require a strong campaign from USC transfer Malachi Nelson at quarterback. The redshirt freshman was considered a five-star prospect in the Class of 2023 but threw just one pass for the Trojans last season.

Nelson will be one of the most touted players to ever suit up for Boise State, and he'll have a unique weapon with him in the backfield in Ashton Jeanty. The junior running back tallied 1,347 yards rushing with 14 touchdowns and added another 569 yards receiving last season. He was announced Wednesday as the league's preseason player of the year.

Mountain West preseason poll

First-place votes in parenthesis 


Boise State (38)


UNLV (4)


Fresno State (4)


Air Force


Colorado State




Utah State


San Diego State




San Jose State


New Mexico



Former Boise State defensive coordinator Spencer Danielson is entering his first season as coach after leading the Broncos to a 3-1 finish last season during his stint as the interim coach. The program's continuity within the defensive staff following the firing of Andy Avalos appears to have helped the Broncos tremendously with retention on that side.

Boise State returns a strong nucleus of defensive talent and placed three defensive players on the league's preseason all-conference team. The headliner of the group is co-defensive player of the year Ahmed Hassanein, a senior defensive lineman who amassed 12.5 sacks last season.