Ouimet's Top 25 - Week 15

Former U-M staffer Mark Ouimet updates his top 25 after Michigan's impressive 35-21 victory over Ohio State. He also speculates on who the Wolverines' bowl opponent may be.

Ouimet's Top 25 (week 15)

1. Oklahoma – The Sooners finished the season undefeated and they are without question the best team in the country. They will have one game left against Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship game for all the marbles. KSU should be the best defensive team the Sooners have faced all year. QB Jason White delivered again with 394 yards and 4 Touchdowns, RB Kejuan Jones scored 5 Touchdowns and the defensive unit had 5 Interceptions. It will be a test defending Kansas State and their duo in RB Darren Sproles and QB Ell Roberson, but don't look for the Wildcats to upset the Sooners in the Championship game.

2. USC – The Trojans are one game away from winning the Pac Ten title and getting into the BCS Championship game after beating UCLA this past week. They will play Oregon State on December 6 which will give the Trojans a battle with QB Derek Anderson and RB Steven Jackson in charge of the Beaver offense. Don't look for the upset, but do look for another great game from USC QB Matt Leinart. He was outstanding against UCLA while completing 23 of 32 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns. They are without a question the second best team in the country, which was proved with a defensive touchdown, special team touchdowns, and with the offensive domination against the Bruins.

3. LSU – The Tigers proved they could win on the road against Mississippi and escaped with another great defensive effort for Coach Saban. The Tigers are now one win away from playing in the Championship game with a home date against Arkansas this weekend. Look for a rowdy and loud crowd to help this Tiger team. They have been playing great defense this year so look for another win this week for the Tigers, but will it be enough to pass USC in the BCS poll?

4. Michigan – A great offensive game plan for the Wolverines and Coach Malone, while QB John Navarre led the way with a lot of help from RB Chris Perry who had 154 yards. Navarre was able to connect with WR Braylon Edwards for seven receptions and 130 yards while the balanced attack was too much for the Buckeye defensive unit that couldn't stop either the run or the pass. Domination from Coach Moeller's offensive line has led the Wolverines through the Big Ten and to the Rose Bowl. The rest of the offensive coaches came up big all year long with great packages and a scoring average of 37.2 points a game. The Wolverines will be playing in the Rose Bowl, but the opponent will have to wait for a couple more weeks. Coach Carr will continue his great leadership and have them preparing right away for several opponents. The most likely opponents for the Wolverines are from a group of SEC teams right now in LSU, Georgia, and Tennessee or from the Big 12 in Texas, with all of these teams giving the Wolverines a great Match-up.

5. Georgia – They were able to take care of the Kentucky Wildcats this week at home with another great effort from the Bulldog defensive unit. They will at least share for the East Division title, so the Bulldogs will try to take care of Georgia Tech this weekend on the road in Atlanta. It should be a great defensive game and the Bulldogs are fighting for bowl positioning with LSU and Tennessee as we come to a close in the SEC race.

6. Texas – They pulled out a high scoring affair against Texas Tech giving up 40 points to the Red Raiders at home, but were able to out score them with 43. The Longhorns now must go on the road in a rivalry game with Texas A&M, but the Aggies are not a very good football team this year so look for an easy victory in College Station. There is a very good chance if the Longhorns can win this week that they will be in one of the BCS games.

7. Tennessee – The Vols took care of Vanderbilt in blowout fashion with QB Casey Clausen leading the way completing 15 of 29 for 262 yards and 3 Touchdowns. The Vols are fighting for the East Division title and must win this week against Kentucky on the road, so the title game isn't decided yet. With a win Coach Fulmer will have his team in a great bowl game with many possible match-ups.

8. Miami (Fl) – Coach Coker went back with QB Brock Berlin against Rutgers this week, while delivering a 28 point third quarter binge after a shaky first half. Look for Brock to get the starting nod again this week at Pittsburgh, which will be a very important Big East battle. With a win against the Panthers the Hurricanes can win the Big East and will have a place in the BCS games. A must win or Coach Coker will leave the Big East without the Title.

9. Florida State – The Seminoles had a bye this week, but still moved up in the polls after 4 teams ahead of them lost in some tough games. Now they will get a tough one for themselves on the road in the Swamp. The Seminoles have already lost to the Hurricanes and another loss to the Gators would be tough in recruiting, so this is a must win on the road for FSU and Coach Bowden. They are already the ACC Champs, but can't afford to slip in BCS standing as we get closer in determining the match-ups.

10. Ohio State – The defense really isn't as good as people think. The Buckeye's better be careful who they get in the bowl game because the Buckeye's possibly might get beat again. It is always tough to defend the National Championship, but the Buckeye's didn't go down without fighting. Special teams kept them in a lot of games, but the Michigan offense took them right out of the game from the start. It will be a couple weeks until they will know their bowl opponent, but they now need to win that game or they will slip drastically in the polls.

11. Florida – They will have had two weeks to prepare for the Seminoles, so you can expect that Coach Zook should have a great game plan in order. The test for the Gators will be if QB Chris Leak will be able to move the ball downfield on this defense. Look for the Seminoles to put a lot of pressure on the Gator offense and try to force Chris into making the wrong decisions. It will be a tough contest in the Swamp. We will find out how bad the Gators want this game because they are probably the best three loss team in the country right now and have a possible outside chance at a BCS bid.

12. Purdue – The Boilermakers are probably the third best team in the Big Ten, but how good is the Big Ten? They most likely secured a spot in a New Years day game in either the Citrus or Outback bowl against an SEC team. They finished up with a 24-16 win against Indiana on the road, but will play a much better team in Florida in a bowl game so Coach Tiller must improve the Boilermakers in a hurry for this match-up.

13. Iowa – The Hawkeye's closed out the Big Ten finishing 5-3 with a close one on the road against the Badgers. Iowa's three losses came to Michigan State, Ohio State, and Purdue. In those games losing the turnover battle cost them all three times. They now will have to wait to see who they will get in a bowl game, but the Hawkeye's gave a great effort this week against Wisconsin with RB Fred Russell leading the way with 18 carries for 137 yards and one touchdown.

14. Miami (Oh) – We already know the RedHawks are in the MAC Championship game, but they continued their winning fashion on the road against Ohio. It was another offense show for QB Ben Roethlisberger who completed 19 of 28 for 294 yards and 4 Touchdowns. The RedHawks now will travel to Central Florida to close out the regular season, so look for another great offensive game plan and display by Roethlisberger. He is one of the best quarterbacks in the country and they are without question the best team in the MAC.

15. Kansas State – The Wildcat defensive unit shut down QB Brad Smith from Missouri in the victory to clinch a match-up with Oklahoma for the Big 12 title. QB Ell Roberson and RB Darren Sproles led they way as they were able to put 24 points on the board. Sproles had a great year with over 1700 yards rushing and dominated against the Tigers with 43 carries for 273 yards and two Touchdowns. Look for this team to surprise the Sooners with a lot of new wrinkles, but will take a lot to upset Oklahoma.

16. Boise State – The Broncos traveled to Fresno State and left with a victory. QB Ryan Dinwiddie led the way completing 22 of 31 passes for 273 yards and two touchdowns. This team has played well all year while only losing to Oregon State in a game they probably should have won. They now finish up the season with Nevada at home and Hawaii on the road and they must win both those games to lock up a bowl bid.

17. Mississippi – They played the Tigers tough all day long and the Rebels showed that they do have a decent defensive unit. QB Eli Manning had a tough day against LSU with 16 of 36 for 200 yards and one touchdown, but he will get a chance to redeem himself this week against Mississippi State. With a win this week the Rebels will tie LSU for the West Division title and will help their bowl cause in a tough environment in Starkville.

18. Washington State – The Cougars couldn't get it done on the road in Seattle against the Huskies and lost to another .500 team. The Cougars have two bad losses on the year to Notre Dame and Washington. QB Matt Kegel couldn't get it done with either passing or running nor did he finish the game. They are done for the regular season and now are in the waiting game for their next opponent.

19. Bowling Green – They dominated in the win against Ball State and will play Toledo at home to close out the regular season. With a win this week against the Rockets the Falcons will play in the MAC Championship against Miami of Ohio for the title and the bid to the Motor City Bowl. The Falcons' two losses were both on the road to Ohio State and Miami of Ohio, but the MAC game will give them another shot to prove themselves to everyone on national television. QB Josh Harris must deliver one more win to get that chance against the RedHawks!

20. TCU – A tough game for Coach Patterson and the Horned Frogs on the road against Southern Mississippi on national television, but now they will not win the Conference Championship. They do travel to Dallas this week to take on SMU, which might be the worst team in college football. The Horned Frogs will bounce back this week and get a chance to prepare for a bowl game opponent. TCU should be thankful they do not play Memphis this year, because that game would be a toss up in the C-USA!

21. Pittsburgh – The Panthers bounced back on the road against Temple in a two-touchdown victory. WR Larry Fitzgerald had another good day with seven catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Now they will get a showdown in the Big East with the game at home against the Hurricanes. This will be a test for the Panthers as the Hurricanes will come in with everything to win this Big East Championship one more time, so we will find out how good the Panthers really are and how good Fitzgerald can be with a lot at stake.

22. Virginia Tech – The Hokies escaped with an overtime win last week against Temple, then they come back home to lose 34-27 to Boston College. The Hokies schedule doesn't get any easier this week when they will travel to take on the Virginia in a tough intra-state game. This is a must win for Coach Beamer and company or they will fall out of the Top 25 for the first time in a while. Look for a hungry team to prove themselves of being ranked and for a great effort from special teams in this game.

23. Nebraska – Three losses to Missouri, Texas, and Kansas State have Coach Solich on the hot seat in Lincoln. With QB Jamaal Lord having a disastrous day against Kansas State the Cornhuskers must get a win this week on the road against Colorado or the Cornhusker world will not be a happy place. Look for a tough game with some good football from both teams in this Big 12 contest.

24. Oklahoma State – The regular season is over for the Cowboys with the 17 point win over Baylor this past week. This was another good season for Coach Miles and company with a bowl game left. This team has three losses to Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas in that order, so this is a solid Big 12 team and we will find out for sure how good they are when the bowl season comes along.

25. Minnesota – With a solid year at 9-3 and the Hawkeye's beating the Badgers the Gophers are back into the Top 25 this week without playing a game. As we all know the Big Ten season is complete and they deserve this ranking, but still must have a good show in the bowl game to prove they deserve to be ranked. Coach Mason had the Gophers prepared last year for the Music City Bowl game, so he must do the same this year to complete the year out.

OTHERS:

Arkansas – Those three straight losses to Auburn, Florida, and Mississippi are still keeping them out of the Top 25, but they have followed that up with four straight wins against Kentucky, South Carolina, New Mexico State, and Mississippi State. The Razorbacks just blew out a bad team in Mississippi State and now must beat LSU on the road to get into the Top 25.

Maryland – The Terps escaped with another victory this week on the road against North Carolina State and QB Philip Rivers. They now must travel to Wake Forest to see if they can win another one and finish second in the ACC. Look for a hard fought game as the struggle for bowl positioning and a win might get them back into the Top 25.

West Virginia – Six straight wins with one being non-conference game still doesn't get them into the Top 25, because of the four losses to Wisconsin, Cincinnati, Maryland, and Miami (Fl), but with a victory against Temple and with some other games taking place they still might make it in the rankings. The Mountaineers have bounced back after starting the season 1-4 and will play a decent bowl opponent, so keep your eye on this team and RB Quincy Wilson.

Southern Mississippi – They just beat TCU, but will not find any room for themselves in the Top 25 just yet. Keep your eye on them as they finish the season on the road against East Carolina. It is always hard to follow up after such an emotional game, so the Pirates will test Southern Mississippi this week. They might be the best team in C-USA, but with the three losses out of conference to California, Nebraska, and Alabama they need to prove themselves this week and in the bowl game.

UConn – The Huskies finished the regular season two weeks ago by hammering Wake Forest, but now must wait for a possible bowl bid. If they are fortunate to get a bid they would challenge a lot of teams in a match-up. The Huskies' three losses came to Boston College, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina State. While not out of a chance to get into the Top 25, they must beat someone in a bowl game to get in. If not this year they will get the chance next year to do exactly that in the Big East.

Toledo – The Rockets could be the third best team in the MAC and have had a couple of big wins against Northern Illinois and Pittsburgh, so now they must prove themselves again with a win this week against Bowling Green. The Rockets just finished off Western Michigan with a 17 point victory, so now they will try to sneak into the bowl picture with a win this week against the Falcons.

North Texas – This Sun Belt team has won the Conference Championship, but still has one more game on the road against New Mexico State. Coach Dickey has the Mean Green going to its third straight bowl game regardless of this weekends result. The Mean Green's three losses on the year are against Oklahoma, Air Force, and Arkansas with all three coming on the road.

Utah – The Utes won a defensive game on the road against BYU 3-0, which isn't a typo. It was a tough contest, but a win is a win and gives them the outright title. They beat California, Colorado State, Air Force, and Oregon this year, but two losses to Texas A&M and New Mexico is why they have been kept out of the Top 25. Also, Utah only has 11 regular season games, but we will see when they get to a bowl!

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