Baylor opened at No. 10 in the Amway preseason coaches poll released Thursday, the Bears’ first preseason football ranking in any poll since the 1991 season.
The placement puts Baylor, an 11-2 team that won last year’s Big 12 championship, among the early frontrunners in the race to earn one of four berths in the inaugural College Football Playoff bracket, to be released Dec. 7. The first championship game of the playoff era will be played Jan. 12, 2015 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Oklahoma, the No. 3 team in Thursday’s poll, is the highest-ranked local or Big 12 team in balloting by the 59 participating coaches. The Sooners also were picked to win this year’s Big 12 title by media members who cover the league.
Oklahoma and Baylor were joined in the initial coaches poll by No. 20 Texas A&M, No. 21 Kansas State and No. 24 Texas. Among the unranked teams receiving votes were TCU, Texas Tech, OklahomaState and Houston.
In order, the top four teams in Thursday’s poll were defending champ Florida State, Alabama, Oklahoma and Oregon. If the preseason rankings are mirrored by members of the CFP selection committee in December, the first-round playoff matchups would be FloridaState vs. Oregon and Oklahoma vs. Alabama.
Baylor coach Art Briles is pleased with the Bears’ starting point, particularly in a season with playoff ramifications.
“The advantage is that … you get on a hot streak and you win your first eight games, the next thing you know, you’re No. 2. Might be No. 1,” Briles said. “If you’re a hot football team and you start 27th, after eight or nine weeks, you’re No. 12 or 13. We have a chance to fulfill faster, to get to where we want to get faster, which is getting in the final four this year.”
_ Jimmy Burch