FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas has said all preseason it has enough talent and experience on its roster to be a championship team in 2012.
The 60 voters in the Associated Press poll believe the Razorbacks are at least worthy of top 10 ranking to open the season.
Arkansas, which finished No. 5 in the season-ending AP poll last winter, is ranked No. 10 this preseason. The AP poll was released Saturday, two weeks after the Razorbacks were also ranked No. 10 in the USA Today Coaches poll.
The No. 10 ranking is Arkansas’ highest in the preseason AP poll since 1980, when the Razorbacks were ranked No. 6. The Razorbacks didn’t live up to preseason expectations that season, finishing 7-5 under former coach Lou Holtz.
The Razorbacks also are ranked in the top 10 of the preseason poll for the 11th time in school history and the first time since 1989.
But center Travis Swanson said the preseason ranking wouldn’t consume the Razorbacks. Their only concern is getting ready for the season opener.
“Preseason honors and stuff like that are always good,” Swanson said last week. “But I always tell myself it’s not what happens in the beginning, but what happens in the end. That’s what matters. So whatever happens …”
It’s no secret the Hogs face a challenging road in their push for an SEC West title.
Arkansas is one of five SEC teams ranked in the top 10 in the preseason poll, joining Alabama (No. 2), LSU (No. 3), Georgia (No. 6) and South Carolina (No. 9). Florida, which is ranked No. 23, is the only other SEC team in the preseason poll.
It’s the first time in the 62-year history of the preseason poll that five teams from the same conference were ranked in the top 10. Arkansas plays three of those teams — Alabama on Sept. 15, South Carolina on Nov. 10, and LSU on Nov. 23.
Arkansas knows where it’s starting in the preseason polls. And coach John L. Smith said it’s now up to the Razorbacks to win games beginning Sept. 1.
“We have no control of what that ranking is,” Smith said during the team’s kickoff luncheon Friday. “We don’t get to vote. But what we can do is take care of (Friday’s) practice. We do get to take care of (Saturday’s) scrimmage. So let’s take care of that.
“If we’ll do that every day there’s no pressure. We just take care of what we can.”