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Weber State the consensus favorite to win Big Sky Conference, Southern Utah predicted to finish 12th

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Weber State Wildcats Raoul Johnson (15) celebrate the won over the Montana Grizzlies during the FCS quarterfinals at Stewart Stadium in Ogden on Friday, Dec. 13, 2019. Weber won 17-10.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Having won at least a piece of the Big Sky Conference championship each of the past three seasons, it’s no surprise that Weber State is the favorite to take home the title again in 2020 — if there’s a season.

The Wildcats were the consensus favorite to win the Big Sky title in both the coaches and media preseason polls released Thursday during the league’s football virtual kickoff. It’s the first time Weber State is the preseason favorite to win the Big Sky crown.

“I’ve always said preseason rankings don’t mean a lot, but it’s nice to be recognized,” Weber State coach Jay Hill said in a statement. “Hopefully this gets us excited for what we are working toward, which is to finish the season ranked No. 1, not just the preseason No. 1. We have had big expectations in our program the last few years and I think our players have handled that very well. Now we have to take another step and find a way to raise those expectations even higher.” 

Weber State received seven 135 overall points and seven first-place votes to top the coaches poll, ahead of No. 2 Montana (128 points, two first-place votes), No. 3 Montana State (121, one), No. 4 Eastern Washington (118, one) and No. 5 Sacramento State (99, one).

The Wildcats were more of an overwhelming favorite in the media poll, garnering 546 overall points and 28 first-place votes, with Montana (496 points, eight first-place votes), Montana State (493, six), Eastern Washington (438, one) and Sacramento State (389) again following Weber State.

Southern Utah was picked to finish 12th in the 13-team league in both polls.

“We have had a couple of down years in a row, so 12th isn’t surprising,” SUU head coach Demario Warren said in a statement. “But preseason polls have never stopped us from having a great season, and this one won’t be any different.” 

Weber State advanced to the FCS playoff semifinals for the first time in school history last year, finishing with an 11-4 record. The Wildcats ended the year ranked No. 3 in the nation, the program’s highest ranking in school history. 

SUU, meanwhile, is coming off a 3-9 season.