The Fresno State football team was voted to finish fourth in the West Division in the 2016 Mountain West football, announced Tuesday at its annual media days held at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Defending Mountain West champion San Diego State was predicted to win the West Division, receiving all 29 possible first-place votes. Boise State, which has been predicted to win the Mountain Division the last three seasons, earned 27 first-place votes to sit atop the preseason poll on the Mountain Division side.
The two divisional winners will meet in the MW Championship Game on Dec. 3, at the home stadium of the divisional champion with the highest College Football Playoff Committee ranking.
This will be year No. 5 for Fresno State in the Mountain West. In 2012, the Bulldogs’ first season entering the league, Fresno State was selected to finish third in the preseason poll before going on to win a share of the conference championship.
Also announced Tuesday was the preseason all-conference team and preseason players of the year. No Bulldogs were selected to the preseason teams for the first time since Fresno State joined the league, but in its first four seasons in the Mountain West, the Bulldogs’ 17 preseason all-conference selections ranked No. 2 in that timeframe , trailing only Boise State by one selection.
Fresno State is coming off a 3-9 campaign in 2015 when it went 2-6 in league play to finish in a tie for fourth in the West Division. The Bulldogs return 13 starters this season and 32 letter-winners to mesh in with a blend of six new coaches, including new offensive, defensive and special teams coordinators on Tim DeRuyter’s staff.
DeRuyter, who has gone 29-23 at Fresno State, is entering year five as head coach of the Bulldogs.
Four seniors remain off his first recruiting class that have been a part of two Mountain West championships (2012 and 2013) and one West Division crown (2014). Cornerback Jamal Ellis, outside linebacker Brandon Hughes, safety Dalen Jones and wide receiver Aaron Peck, along with DeRuyter, look to lead the Bulldogs back to their winning ways.
Fresno State reports for fall camp on Aug. 3 and will hold its first practice on Aug. 4. The Bulldogs’ season-opening game kicks off Sept. 3 at Nebraska.