For a team that went 7-6 last year and failed to crack the Top 25 in the season-ending polls, the Washington Huskies are drawing a lot of positive attention. After coming in at No. 18 in the the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll released last week, UW starts the 2016 season at a lofty No. 14 in the Associated Press poll.
This marks Washington’s highest preseason AP ranking since it opened the 2002 season at No. 9. That Husky team, coached by Rick Neuheisel, finished 7-6 and unranked.
Washington received 651 points (no first-place votes) in its 30th overall appearance in the Associated Press poll since rankings were first published in 1936. Alabama received 33 first-place votes and 1,469 points to start at No. 1.
Only one Pac-12 team, defending conference champion Stanford, is ranked higher in the AP preseason poll than Washington. The Cardinal open at No. 8 with 1,029 points.
Three other conference schools made the AP Top 25, UCLA (496) at No. 16, USC (344) at No. 20 and Oregon (218) at No. 24. The Ducks went 9-4 last season and have not lost to the Huskies since 2003.
This is only the second time the Huskies have held an Associated Press ranking since Chris Petersen became the head coach in 2014. Washington opened that season at No. 25, but dropped out after scoring an unimpressive 17-16 victory at Hawaii to open the campaign.
Prior to that, the Huskies had not enjoyed a ranking since Oct. 19, 2013 when, as the AP’s No. 20 team, they lost 53-24 to unranked Arizona State in Tempe.
The Huskies’ third year under Petersen starts Sept. 3 by hosting Rutgers (11 a.m., Pac-12 Networks). Washington will play its following two contests (Sept. 10 vs. Idaho and Sept. 17 vs. Portland State) at home before beginning its Pac-12 slate at Arizona Sept. 24.