Mountain West Championship Football Bachmeier

Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier (19) plays against San Jose State in the Mountain West championship Dec. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LAS VEGAS – Air Force football was picked third in its division, slotted behind Boise State and Wyoming in a poll of league media released Wednesday.

The Broncos took 23 of the 25 first-place votes in the Mountain West’s Mountain Division, while Nevada was the runaway pick in the West Division with 19 first-place votes compared to five for San Jose State.

There was no argument from Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, who noted that — because of COVID-19 — the other 11 teams in the conference return at least 70 percent of their production while the Falcons return around 50 percent.

Air Force had around three dozen players who missed the 2020 when they took semester turnbacks — temporarily departing from the academy — but Calhoun pointed out that his players deferred that year of eligibility as opposed to gaining a full extra season like other teams’ players.

“I think probably just because of the differences in roster approaches and management, it may take two years before we get back to where we get some balance, especially within this league,” Calhoun said. “Good gravy. But if you love challenges, we’re at the right place. That’s for sure.”

San Diego State was picked third in the West but didn’t receive a first-place vote for the first time since 2011 — prior to the conference’s shift to a two-division format.

“The Mountain West Conference, by far, is one of the best conferences in the country,” Aztecs coach Brady Hoke said. “This league may be as good as it’s been for a while.”

Mountain West preseason media predictions

Mountain Division

1. Boise State (23), 148

2. Wyoming (2), 115

3. Air Force, 104

4. Colorado State, 72

5. Utah State, 47

6. New Mexico, 39

West Division

1. Nevada (19), 141

2. San Jose State (5), 121

3. San Diego State, 96

4. Fresno State (1), 85

5. Hawaii, 56

6. UNLV, 26

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