Will WSU begin 2016 season ranked in top 25?

AMONG THE LATEST preseason polls and power rankings to appear last week was Sports Illustrated’s top 25. SI sees the Pac-12 being down this year – not a single Pac-12 team is in its top 10.

SI has the Cougars at No. 25 in the land.

“A Cougars squad that made the biggest improvement in wins of any team in the country last season isn’t likely to fade a year later,” writes SI.  “Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense has all the pieces it needs to deliver an eye-popping season with Luke Falk back at quarterback and Gabe Marks, River Cracraft and Robert Lewis back at receiver.

“Washington State has never been a defensive-led group under Leach, but last year’s unit proved to at least be adequate enough to allow its prodigious offense to shine. The Cougars lose five starters on defense, and second-team All-Pac-12 defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao leaves a big hole on the line. But defensive end Hercules Mata’afa could be in for a big season, and linebacker Peyton Pelluer and safety Shalom Luani should be key contributors.”

The other Pac-12 teams listed in SI’s power rankings: Oregon (23); USC (19); UW (17); Stanford (11).  You can see their entire rankings here.

In other polling released earlier, Athlon also ranked WSU at No. 25 (March 10).

ESPN had WSU at No. 20 in its Jan. 12 poll but in its Feb. 10 poll had dropped the Cougs out of its top 25.

The Associated Press and Coaches preseason polls are typically released the last week of August.

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