Ouimet's Top 25 (week 14)

Though ranked #5 in both polls, Michigan has dropped a spot to #9 in the BCS poll, trailing Oklahoma, OSU (#2 now), USC, LSU, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee and TCU. Here's how former U-M staffer Mark Ouimet ranks them – and why.

1. Oklahoma – They Sooners thumped Texas A&M and Baylor in back to back weeks! This team is on a mission with the defense leading the way and they might lose the defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops to Arizona soon! The Sooners travel this week to Texas Tech to face the Red Raiders and they will test the defense with the spread passing attack. QB Jason White will have to keep the scoring machine alive in this game and keep the undefeated streak headed to the championship game in the Big 12. Jason had another good day with 21 of 38 for 307 yards with 4 Touchdowns, so the Heisman is in reach!

2. USC – QB Matt Leinart had another outstanding day against a bad Arizona football team, so now the Trojans can control their own destiny with two weeks to go after the blowout win against the Wildcats. The last two weeks will bring a challenge in UCLA and Oregon State, so can this young Quarterback maintain his streak of good games and stay focused? Look for continue success defensively and for the Trojans to be in the Championship game against the Sooners.

3. Ohio State – It took overtime for the second time this year to pull out a victory this week against the Boilermakers, but a solid defensive game every week has kept the Buckeyes within reach of a possible Big Ten Championship. Now the game against the Wolverines is upon the Buckeyes and the defense must step up one more time. QB Craig Krenzel must be flawless in this game for the Buckeyes and they must leave the Big House without any turnovers to pull out a victory, so strap on the helmet and let's play good old fashion Big Ten football!

4. LSU – With the exception of Oklahoma this is without a question the best defense in the country! With QB Matt Mauck and WR Michael Clayton leading this team offensively, the defense has been rock solid all year long! This team had no problem against Alabama and now faces QB Eli Manning and Mississippi this week in a must win situation. The Tigers are making a run at the SEC Title and will need another great defensive effort to stop Eli Manning this week. They still could sneak into the BCS Championship games, so stay tuned to this Tiger team.

5. Michigan – The Wolverines leaders led this team this week against a bad defensive Northwestern team with QB John Navarre completing 22 of 31 for 288 yards and 2 Touchdowns, while RB Chris Perry had 25 carries for 122 yards and 2 Touchdowns. They will be playing a much better defense this week in the Buckeye's for the Big Ten Championship. Coach Carr will have this team well prepared and will be trying not to lose three straight games to the school down the road!

6. Georgia – The defense came up big again at home this week against Auburn. The Bulldogs still have title hopes in the SEC, but there are some things that still need to happen. This week at home against a down Kentucky team look for the Bulldogs to bring another victory to its fans. Coach Richt and this team have bounced back from the two losses and are fighting there way to the finish, so let's see where the last two games leave the Bulldogs.

7. Texas – The Longhorns were able to pull one out against the Red Raiders in an old fashioned shoot out. The Longhorn defense wasn't able to shut down QB BJ Symons, but rallied for a wild victory in comeback fashion. QB Chance Mock led an 86-yard drive with two minutes two go by throwing a Touchdown pass to BJ Johnson with 46 seconds left. Another interstate rivalry this week against Texas A&M this week, so if the Longhorns can pull out a victory look for them to end up in the Rose Bowl game against the Big Ten Champ.

8. Tennessee – QB Casey Clausen had an outstanding day against Mississippi State in the win completing 20 of 33 for 330 yards and 5 Touchdowns. With Vanderbilt and Kentucky left on the schedule keep an eye on the Volunteers has we will have a tight finish in the SEC. I do want to mention the loss before the game to Defensive Tackle Greg Jones family with the death of his sister in a car accident while she was traveling to the game with her mother and grandmother who both escaped with minor injuries. It was a sad day even though it was a huge win for Volunteers.

9. Washington State – QB Matt Kegel didn't play well this week, but backup QB Josh Swogger did completing 14 of 20 for 207 yards and 1 Touchdown in the victory over an average Arizona State team. The Cougars last game is on the road against Washington, who is a team that is struggling right now. QB Matt Kegel is still nursing an injury, so who will be the Quarterback this weekend against Washington? This will be a very emotional game for the Cougars and must win this game to get a share of the PAC Ten Title, but still is the same team that lost to Notre Dame!

10. TCU – They have made it to my Top 10 with a huge victory against Cincinnati at home and the Horned Frogs haven't changed anything as they make the drive stretch to the goal of a BCS bid. They now will have their biggest game of the year against Southern Mississippi for both the Conference USA Title and a possible BCS bid, so will they be able to continue moving the ball against a solid defensive unit of Southern Mississippi. A huge game on national TV, so only time will tell!

11. Virginia Tech – They escaped in an overtime game against the Temple Owls on the road, but it's a victory for the Hokies. They need to get the defense in order fast before Boston College comes to town this week and than they will have to travel to play the Cavaliers on the road. The next two weeks will be bowl positioning for the Hokies, so Coach Beamer must have this team focused for the last two games.

12. Miami (Fl) – With two losses to Virginia Tech and Tennessee there was a Quarterback controversy in Miami. They did bounce back this week against Syracuse and are now are back on the winning track. TE Kellen Winslow made an outstanding block on special teams to set up a score and was a difference maker all day long against the Orangemen. This week they get an easy task against Rutgers in Miami, but do finish up with Pittsburgh to close the season. The biggest question is who will finish the season has the starting Quarterback for the Hurricanes?

13. Florida State – A tough contest against North Carolina State this week and Chris Rix played better than the week before against Clemson to lead the Seminoles in victory in overtime. The Seminoles finish the season on the road in the Swamp, so look for a tough road game against the Gators. Do the Seminoles have enough offensively to get past the Gators this week?

14. Mississippi – With two weeks to prepare for the Tigers this week and the SEC Championship on the line QB Eli Manning must put a lot of points on the board to win this game. This one will not be an easy task against the Tiger defense, but they should be well rested and well prepared offensively. The Rebel defense needs to find a way to stop the Tiger offense and come up with some big plays to get the Rebel offense back on the field quickly to take advantage of any opportunity.

15. Florida – Defeated South Carolina with a great defensive stand on a two point conversion try by the Gamecocks. The Gators have been finding ways to win games and offensively have been led by true freshmen Quarterback Chris Leak. They will need an outstanding performance from Chris to have enough success against this Seminole defense. This game will let you know how good this Gator team really is and will decide their bowl fate. This will be one tough football game in the Swamp this week! Which Florida team will finish the regular season with a win?

16. Purdue – The Boilermakers can't beat the big two in Michigan and Ohio State, but are the third best team in the Big Ten, so they will be playing in Florida this year in either the Citrus or the Outback bowl. They gave a solid performance this past week on the road in the Horseshoe, but just could not get it done with too many turnovers. QB Kyle Orton fumbled twice, which cost the Boilermakers in this game. K Ben Jones missed at the end of the game to send it into another overtime, so once again you can say turnovers and special teams are the key to winning a football game.

17. Iowa – A good bounce back victory over the rushing attack of Minnesota after a bad loss on the road last week against the Boilermakers. Three losses to Michigan State, Ohio State, and Purdue have come back to haunt the Hawkeye's, but a road date with the Badgers will make up for those losses if they can pull out a victory against Wisconsin! If RB Fred Russell can dominate in the ground game like he did against Minnesota they will pull out a victory which will help the Hawkeye's in their bowl positioning after next week.

18. Miami (Oh) – Once again they dominated another team in the MAC to clinch the MAC East Title with two games left. They dominated Marshall from end to end in this football game on National TV, but QB Ben Roethlisberger was a major factor in this domination. He is without a question the best Quarterback in the nation and watch out for this team when they play in the Motor City bowl against a Big Ten team. They are on a roll with two away games against Ohio and Central Florida before the MAC Championship game.

19. Kansas State – RB Darren Sproles led this Wildcat team to victory over Nebraska with 25 carries for 140 yards and 1Touchdown, while WR James Terry had 6 catches for 175 yards and 1 Touchdown. They dominated the Huskers and are in control of their own destiny in the Big 12. This team will be in the Championship game against Oklahoma with one more victory at home against Missouri. Many people gave up on this team, but Coach Snyder always as solid football teams come November.

20. Boise State – Domination again over UTEP, while QB Ryan Dinwiddie had another outstanding game completing 13 of 22 for 198 yards and 2 Touchdowns. This team will get a test on the road this week on National TV against Fresno State. This is a game that will test the Broncos and let us know how good they really can be before we get to the bowl games. Watch out for the Broncos, because this team can score some points!

21. Bowling Green – QB Josh Harris led this team in a solid performance against Kent State and is back in the Top 25 with two losses on the season. Both losses have come to good teams in Miami of Ohio and Ohio State with a huge victory against Purdue in the first game of the year. They still have a shot at the MAC Championship game if they can close with victories over Ball State and Toledo, which will regain them a shot at Miami of Ohio.

22. Pittsburgh – They played a terrible game on the road against the Mountaineers and they were dominated in every phase, especially in the second half of this game. WR Larry Fitzgerald tried to do everything possible by making great plays while having 9 catches for 185 yards and 2 Touchdowns. This team must bounce back this week on the road against Temple who just played Virginia Tech in a close one. The big game will be in two weeks against the Hurricanes, so stayed tuned to see how the Big East will close!

23. Nebraska – QB Jamaal Lord had a disastrous day against Kansas State and now Coach Solich needs to get this team back on track this week against Colorado on the road. They have lost three Big 12 games and a fourth one will put the Coach on the hot seat in Cornhusker land. A must win or they will drop out of the Top 25!

24. Oklahoma State – This team has three losses to Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas in that order, so this isn't a bad football team but needs to find a way to finish strong against Baylor and win the bowl game. Coach Miles has done a great job with resurrecting this program and bringing respect to Cowboy country. An easy win this past week against Kansas and look for a strong finish this year!

25. Oregon State – A huge victory over Stanford this past week, with QB Derek Anderson and RB Steven Jackson leading the way. They finish up with Oregon and USC, so they can make a statement in the PAC Ten. This week will not be an easy task with this rivalry game coming on the road in Eugene, which we all know is a tough place to play! The Beavers are the third best team in the PAC Ten right now and it will be very interesting to see who they will get matched up with in the bowl game.

OTHERS:
Arkansas – Three straight losses to Auburn, Florida, and Mississippi followed by back to back wins against Kentucky, South Carolina, and a bad New Mexico State team gets them closer but not in yet. QB Matt Jones and RB Cedric Cobbs still need to deliver against a bad Mississippi State team and a great LSU team. With a win this week against MSU they might sneak into the top 25, because this is the same team that beat Texas.

Southern Mississippi – They might be the best team in C-USA and now they get the chance to host TCU this week. They are undefeated in C-USA just like the Horned Frogs, but have three losses to out of conference foes in California, Nebraska, and Alabama. This week's game will decide the C-USA Championship and Southern Mississippi will have a great defensive game plan for this game. This is a must watch game this week on National TV and I promise the BCS will be watching this game as we get closer to the finish of the season!

Minnesota – This team always starts out hot, but struggles in Big Ten play with losses to Michigan, Michigan State, and Iowa. The ironic thing about the Gophers this year is the two teams they don't play this year were Purdue and Ohio State, so they avoided a couple more losses. Let's wait to see who they get matched up with in the bowl game to see how good this team really is this year. Also, they will have a chance to make it back in the Top 25 if a few teams lose in the next couple of weeks since the Gopher regular season is over.

Wisconsin – They did lose back to back games to Northwestern and Minnesota but the Badgers had a huge victory against the Spartans this week. WR Lee Evans had a record breaking day and the Badgers might be able to make a statement this week with the Hawkeye's coming to town! The offensive unit must continue to have success both in the air and on the ground to win this game against Iowa.

West Virginia – They just upset Pittsburgh, but I am not sure how good Pittsburgh might be before the year is over. Remember that is the same Pittsburgh team that has lost to Notre Dame and Toledo, so we will let the year play out in the Big East. The Mountaineers have beaten both Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh this year, but does have four losses to Wisconsin, Cincinnati, Maryland, and Miami (Fl). Stay tuned as they finish the season with Syracuse and Temple. RB Quincy Wilson must continue his success that he had with 34 carries for 208 yards and 4 Touchdowns. Are they really the best four loss team in the country?

Missouri – They just beat Texas A&M convincingly with QB Brad Smith having tons of success and leading the way, but now they must upset Kansas State to make it into the Top 25. This will not be any easy task on the road, while both RB Darren Sproles and QB Ell Roberson are at full strength!

Toledo – The Rockets are the third best team in the MAC and have had a couple of big wins against Northern Illinois and Pittsburgh, so they will get there chance to make another statement this year with two games left against Western Michigan and Bowling Green.

Maryland – This is probably the worst conference in the country, but they just beat Virginia on National TV this week. The Terps are the second best team in the ACC and will finish the season with games against North Carolina State and Wake Forest with both games coming on the road. So is there more than one team that deserves to be mentioned in this conference?

UConn – This team will not have any problem moving to the Big East soon! The Huskies finished the season blowing out Wake Forest on the road and with five straight wins. Their regular season is now over and they finished the year 9-3. They now need some help to get invited to a bowl game this year, but you never know with two weeks left in the regular season and still might sneak into the Top 25.

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