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AP poll-2018 preseason

Wisconsin Badgers linebackers T.J. Edwards (53), left, and Andrew Van Ginkel (17), center, celebrate a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown by fellow linebacker Leon Jacobs (32), right, during the third quarter of a game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis., Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. M.P. KING, STATE JOURNAL

The University of Wisconsin football team matched its highest preseason ranking in program history when the Associated Press poll was released Monday.

The Badgers came in at No. 4, behind only Alabama, Clemson and Georgia, and received one first-place vote. UW also ranked fourth in the 2000 AP preseason poll, the only other time the Badgers have started a season in the top five.

"Shoot, I think that's pretty dope," UW wide receiver A.J. Taylor said. "But I know that we can't let that - being fourth - control our mindsets and get to our heads. We've really got to ignore that and take it one day at a time because if we let that get to our heads, we'll just keep dropping."

The Badgers haven't allowed high rankings to negatively affect their play over the last couple years under coach Paul Chryst. Monday marked the 24th consecutive AP poll that saw UW rank in the top 10, dating back to October of 2016.

That 2016 season began with the Badgers unranked before they upset then-No. 5 LSU in Week 1. Since that win at Lambeau Field, UW hasn't ranked below 11th in the poll.

"My freshman year (in 2016) we were supposed to go 6-6 and not make a bowl game," UW wide receiver Kendric Pryor said. "We didn't worry about that. And then we had a real good season last year. People were kind of doubting us a little bit. We didn't worry about that. ... That's been key for us since I've been here. We don't worry about the outside noise. We only worry about what's said in the team room - what our coaches tell us and what we tell each other on the field."

This is the 10th time in program history the Badgers are starting the season in the top 10, and just the second time they've done so in back-to-back years.

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Bob Asmussen of the Champaign News-Gazette gave the Badgers their lone first-place vote, while none of the 61 voters had UW ranked lower than 13th.

The Badgers were the highest ranked of five Big Ten teams who will start the season in the top 15. Ohio State, the conference's defending champion who may have dipped a couple spots with coach Urban Meyer on administrative leave, came in at No. 5, followed by Penn State at No. 10, Michigan State at 11th and Michigan at No. 14.

UW, which opens the season Aug. 31 against Western Kentucky at Camp Randall Stadium, must face Michigan and Penn State on the road this season.

"I like it, but none of that matters unless you go out on the field and perform," Pryor said of the No. 4 ranking. "If we don't go out there and play ball like we know how to play ball, it's not going to matter what we're ranked. We just have to go out there and perform on Fridays and Saturdays, whenever we play, and just show people that we don't worry about what other people have to say about us."

Monday's ranking comes a week after UW opened at No. 7 in the Amway Coaches poll, behind Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Georgia, Oklahoma and Washington.

The complete AP preseason poll:

1. Alabama (42 first-place votes); 2. Clemson (18); 3. Georgia; 4. Wisconsin (1); 5. Ohio State; 6. Washington; 7. Oklahoma; 8. Miami (Fla.); 9. Auburn; 10. Penn State; 11. Michigan State; 12. Notre Dame; 13. Stanford; 14. Michigan; 15. USC; 16. TCU; 17. West Virginia; 18. Mississippi State; 19. Florida State; 20. Virginia Tech; 21. UCF; 22. Boise State; 23. Texas; 24. Oregon; 25. LSU.

Bucky!

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