Hogs debut at No. 18 in AP poll; eight SEC teams in Top 25
FAYETTEVILLE - The season-ending foot injury to Arkansas senior 1,000-yard rushing running back Jonathan Williams didn't dissuade media voting Sunday in the Associated Top 25 college football. They voted the Razorbacks No. 18 in the first AP poll released in 2015.
It's the Razorbacks' first national ranking since Bret Bielema became their coach in 2013, and the first ranking period since the 2012 Razorbacks opened No. 10 and advanced after that season's first week to No. 8 before crashing to 4-8 under interim Coach John L. Smith.
Arkansas improved from 3-9 in Bielema's first year to 7-6 last season, generating 2015 polling momentum (the Razorbacks rank 20th in the Coaches poll) by winning three of their last four games, including SEC West shutouts over LSU and Ole Miss (ranked 14th and 17th in Sunday's poll), and a 31-7 rout of Texas in the Advocare Texas Bowl.
Arkansas' 2015 SEC schedule is full of AP ranked opponents with SEC West rivals Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Ole Miss nationally tabbed, third, sixth, 14th and 17th and its other two SEC West opponents, Mississippi State and Texas A&M, leading all others that received votes but not enough to crack the Top 25.
Missouri and Tennessee, Arkansas' two SEC East opponents this season, rank 24th and 25th in the first AP poll. Eight of the SEC's 14 teams are AP ranked with Georgia of the SEC East ranked ninth.
Reigning national champion Ohio State unanimously was voted No. 1 in the AP poll with TCU, second.
Completing the Top 10 from third through 10th are Alabama, Baylor, Michigan State, Auburn, Oregon, Southern California, Georgia and Florida State. From 11th through 25th are Notre Dame, Clemson, UCLA, LSU, Arizona State, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Stanford, Arizona, Boise State, Missouri and Tennessee.
The college football season kicks off Sept. 3. The Razorbacks open Sept. 5 at Reynolds Razorback Stadium against Texas-El Paso.