The University of Central Arkansas Bears are No. 21 in the College Sporting News preseason football poll released on Tuesday.
The Bears, coming off their first NCAA FCS Playoff appearance in 2011, are joined in the poll by fellow Southland Conference teams Sam Houston State (2nd) and Stephen F. Austin (25th). Murray State, who the Bears play on Sept. 8, comes in at No. 24, giving UCA three ranked foes in its first three FCS games of the season.
UCA, which opens the 2012 season on Sept. 1 at Ole Miss, finished 14th and 15th in the final national FCS polls to end the 2011 season. The Bears were 9-4 overall, with all four losses coming to conference champions. UCA lost to Sam Houston State, Arkansas State (Sun Belt), Louisiana Tech (Western Athletic Conference) and Montana (Big Sky).
The Bears will have 15 starters returning when preseason camp opens Saturday.