LAS VEGAS, Nev., -- For the second consecutive season the Wyoming Cowboys were picked by the league's media members to finish second in the Mountain Division behind Boise State.

Surprised?

Don't be.

The Broncos, who received 23 of a possible 25 first-place votes, have played in the last four Mountain West titles games, winning it all in 2017 and '19. Rookie head coach Andy Avalos returns 84% of a roster that finished the COVID-shortened 2020 season 5-2 overall and were perfect in conference play, including a 17-9 victory over Wyoming in a snow-covered season finale in Laramie.

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The Broncos unblemished mark in MW play came to an abrupt end with a stunning 34-20 loss to an upstart San Jose State squad in the title game in Las Vegas.

The last time the Broncos didn't represent the Mountain Division in the championship game was back in 2016. You might recall that one. Josh Allen's Pokes fell to San Diego State 27-24 in front of 24,000-plus inside a frigid War Memorial Stadium. UW upset a then 13th-ranked Boise State 30-28 in Laramie to leapfrog the Broncos in the standings in late October.

Can the Cowboys get back there this fall?

Craig Bohl's veteran-laden squad will welcome back 95% of its roster -- 10 starters on defense, nine on offense -- from last year's 2-4 team. That ranks UW second among 127 FBS teams who played last fall. Wyoming earned two first-place votes from the media.

The Cowboys and Broncos are set to square off inside Albertsons Stadium Friday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m.

Here's how the rest of the votes went down in the Mountain Division:

1. Boise State

2. Wyoming

3. Air Force

4. Colorado State

5. Utah State

6. New Mexico

 

West Division:

1. Nevada (19)

2. San Jose State (5)

3. San Diego State

4. Fresno State (1)

5. Hawaii

6. UNLV

Wyoming Cowboys football players in the NFL: Then and now