SALT LAKE CITY — In 2018, Utah State quarterback Jordan Love led the Aggies to an 11-win season while accounting for 39 touchdowns.
All of that was only good enough to get second-team All-Mountain West honors. But what’s expected as an encore?
On Tuesday, Jordan Love was named the preseason Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year, adding to what already are lofty expectations for Love entering his junior season.
Love has already been named to the preseason watchlists for the Davey O’Brien Award, which is given to the nation’s best quarterback, and the Maxwell Award, given to the best overall player nationally. He’s seen by some as one of the five best quarterbacks in 2020 NFL Draft. Oh, and on Monday, the Aggies even launched a Heisman campaign for their quarterback.
Love became a star last season. Now, it's only a question of how big of one he becomes.
Last season, the Aggies were a surprise team as they went on to have one of their best seasons ever. This year, with Love and four other members of the All-MWC Preseason Team in senior defensive end Tipa Galeai, senior cornerback DJ Williams, junior kickoff returner Savon Scarver and junior linebacker David Woodward, Utah State is expected to contend for a Mountain West title.
They aren’t the favorites, though. At least not according to the league’s media members.
The Aggies were picked to finish second in the Mountain Division behind Boise State. Utah State received six first-place votes; the Broncos got 15. Fresno State was chosen to win the West Division.
It’s the highest Utah State has been picked to finish since 2015 when the Aggies were also chosen to finish second in their division.
The optimism then centered around former QB Chuckie Keeton. It is now centering around Love.
Love set five Utah State single-season records last season. He threw for 3.567 yards and 32 touchdowns. He had seven 300-plus yard passing games and accounted for 234 points. And he was named conference player of the week five times.
Love was a breakout star in 2018, but he might have a challenge replicating his numbers from a year ago. Utah State lost the majority of its starters on offense and Love will have to show that he can have the same type of production with a new supporting cast as well as a new coaching staff.
But the Aggies seem to think he'll be able to.
On Monday evening, Utah State tweeted out a highlight video of Love showing touchdown after touchdown. The video ended with a graphic that read 10veforHeisman (10 is Love’s number). But while he has his school firmly in his corner, Love still have some doubters. He was left off of Sports Illustrated’s 2019 College Football Top 100 — though he was mentioned as one of the biggest snubs.
If Love, though, can be who his team and the league media expect him to be this season, then the Aggies should be in prime position to contend for a conference crown.
With three members being named on the Preseason All-Defensive team, the most in the conference, Utah State is poised to have one of the defensive units in the Mountain West. Add in Love and a coach in Gary Anderson who knows how to win in Logan, and the Aggies could be poised for yet another special season.
MWC preseason poll
- Boise State (15) —120
- Utah State (6) — 108
- Air Force — 73
- Wyoming — 66
- Colorado State — 52
- New Mexico — 22
- Fresno State (17) — 122
- San Diego State (3) — 106
- Nevada — 74
- Hawai‘i (1) — 67
- UNLV — 51
- San José State — 21