OGDEN — The winners of four consecutive Big Sky championships are the favorites to win a fifth in the 2021 fall season.
Weber State received seven first-place votes in the Big Sky coaches' preseason poll, the conference announced Monday, and 14 first-place votes by the league's media.
Montana was second in both polls, followed by Eastern Washington, Montana State, Sacramento State and UC Davis.
The Wildcats were picked first in the league prior to the 2020 season, which was pushed to the spring 2021, for the first time in school history. And they showed no signs of slowing down.
"It's always an honor to be picked first," Weber State coach Jay Hill said in a statement from the school. "I think it has more to do with what the last four teams have done than this team. I never put a lot of stock in the preseason rankings because it will be decided on the field but it is an honor to get the respect."
In addition to four-straight league titles, Weber State has advanced to the FCS Playoffs in five consecutive seasons. The Wildcats return four FCS All-Americans and 13 All-Big Sky players from last year's team that finished 5-1 with a 34-31 loss to Southern Illinois in the first round of the truncated FCS playoffs.
The Wildcats open the season Sept. 2 at Utah and will host FCS power James Madison in the team's home opener Sept. 18 at Stewart Stadium.
The Wildcats had seven players selected to the Big Sky all-conference team Monday afternoon during the Big Sky kickoff in Spokane, Washington.
Junior running back Josh Davis and senior Ty Whitworth lead the offensive honors, the third All-Big Sky selection for both players. Senior return specialist Rashid Shaheed, a three-time All-American, leads special teams.
On defense, the Wildcats' honors included the 2021 Big Sky spring defensive MVP in linebacker Conner Mortensen, as well as defensive tackle Jared Scheiss, defensive end George Tarlas and cornerback Eddie Heckard.
As part of the Big Sky's new contract with ESPN that will feature all games streamed on ESPN+, the Wildcats also had one contest moved to national television, the Worldwide Leader announced Monday.
Weber State's bout with Montana State will be televised Friday, Oct. 15 on ESPNU, the network announced. Montana's Oct. 2 contest at Eastern Washington was the other game picked up by ESPNU as part of the contract.