KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (utsports.com) -- Tennessee football will open the 2015 season as the unanimous 25th-ranked team in the country as the preseason Associated Press college football poll, released Sunday, ranks the Volunteers at No. 25. The ranking matches UT's standing in the Amway Coaches Poll, which was announced in July.
The Volunteers last appeared in the AP Poll on Sept. 12, 2012 when it was listed at No. 23. Sunday's announcement marks UT's first appearance in the preseason edition of the AP poll since the 2008 season and its 39th appearance in the poll all-time. That year, Tennessee began the year in the No. 18 spot.
The season-opener against Bowling Green on Sept. 5 now stands as the first time since 2008 that the Volunteers will take the field while ranked simultaneously in both major college football polls. UT learned that it was ranked 25th in the Coaches Poll on July 30.
The Associated Press began its college football poll on Oct. 19, 1936, and it is now the longest-running poll of those that award national titles at the end of the season. The preseason poll was started in 1950. A panel of 60 sports writers and broadcasters from around the country votes on the poll weekly. All of the voters have an extensive background in covering college football.
For the third time and for the second consecutive year, the SEC has eight programs ranked inside the AP Top 25--the most by any conference. Third-ranked Alabama holds the highest ranking in the conference, followed by No. 6 Auburn and No. 9 Georgia. LSU comes in at No. 14 while Ole Miss and Arkansas follow at No. 17 and 18, respectively. Reigning East Division champion Missouri sits just above Tennessee in the poll at No. 24.
Two more SEC programs not appearing in the poll led the pack of the unranked in votes-received. Mississippi State received 100 votes while Texas A&M notched 61.
Five opponents on Tennessee's 2015 schedule currently occupy places on the preseason AP Top 25, including No. 3 Alabama, No. 9 Georgia, No. 18 Arkansas, and No. 24 Missouri within conference play. Oklahoma, which UT hosts at Neyland Stadium on Sept. 19, is listed at No. 19. SEC rival Florida also received votes for the Top 25.