Preseason polls serve as benchmark for No. 10 Baylor football

Baylor football ranks number 10 in Associated Press Poll and Coaches Poll. Lariat file photo.

By AnnaGrace Hale | Sports Writer

As football season quickly approaches, preseason rankings have been announced, putting Baylor at No. 10 in the nation in both the AP Top 25 and the coaches poll. Claiming a dramatic Big 12 Championship and a sweet Sugar Bowl victory last year, this preseason mark serves as only a starting point for the Bears.

“It’s the first time I’ve been ranked since I’ve been here, preseason,” fifth-year senior safety Christian Morgan said. “It’s good to be ranked, but it’s not really important in the grand scheme of things.”

Starting the 2021 season unranked and still finding great success, the Bears know this number will not determine the course of the upcoming season. Completing last season at No. 5, the highest finish in program history, the new preseason placement in the top 10 does not change the team’s main goals nor affect the work put in during practice.

Such is the case for sophomore defensive back AJ McCarty, as he said the probability of the green and gold climbing in positioning is high but that the squad is still finding its footing and building relationships before season play. To him, being No. 10 is not Baylor’s ceiling.

“I obviously believe that we have the ability to go all the way this year as long as we can connect,” McCarty said. “I’m not really looking into all the rankings and all that right now because it would throw my mind off of what really matters. But — personal opinion — I think that [we] have a good push to be high this year.”

The last time Baylor was ranked in the preseason top 10 was in 2015, finding themselves at No. 4. Regardless of being included in the top 25 before play, the team changes and evolves each year. New talent rolls in, and old talent rolls out. This season is no exception.

“[Last season’s team and this season’s team] are completely different,” Morgan said. “We have our strengths and weaknesses. It really just depends on how much you work. Last year’s group really came in every day and worked. No, I’m not going to say this group is going to be better. We have to come in, and we have to work every day because we have high standards that we want to achieve.”

As head coach Dave Aranda’s team looks to suit up for the season, the polls serve only as a benchmark of outside perception. The coming weeks will give fans a better indication of what to expect on a game-to-game basis.

The Bears have a few more weeks until they play host to the University at Albany, with kickoff set for 6 p.m. on Sept. 3 at McLane Stadium. Live coverage will be available via Big 12 Now on ESPN+ or ESPN Central Texas 1660 AM radio.