Four Pacific-12 Conference schools, including Washington State, cracked the Associated Press college football Top 25 preseason poll released Monday. A surprise at No. 24 given their routine dismissals in AP preseason polls, plus the fact they failed to make the first coaches-poll rankings two weeks ago, the Cougars are joined in AP’s Top 25 by No. 4 USC, No. 8 Washington and No. 14 Stanford.
Utah, Oregon, Colorado and UCLA also received votes. The Utes are ranked No. 25 in the Coaches preseason poll.
This marks only the third time in the history of the AP poll that WSU begins with a preseason ranking. The first time was in 1952 when WSU began at No. 15 before finishing unranked in the final poll. In 2002, WSU entered with a No. 11 ranking before ending 10-3 record and No. 10 ranking.
The Cougars, who open the 2017 season Sept. 2 against Montana State at Martin Stadium, are looking for their third consecutive bowl appearance after winning the 2015 Sun Bowl and reaching the 2016 Holiday Bowl.
The AP and coaches polls agree on teams one through six: 1. Alabama; 2. Ohio State; 3. Florida State; 4. USC; 5. Clemson; 6. Penn State. While Washington came in at No. 7 in the coaches poll, the Huskies fell to No. 8 in the AP rankings, one slot behind Oklahoma.
Washington collected 1,150 points vs. 1,513 for the No. 1 Crimson Tide and 1,325 for the No. 4 Trojans. Washington and USC will not meet during the regular season and are the favorites to win the conference’s North and South divisions. Last month, Pac-12 media projected USC as the conference champion.