Ouimet's Top 25 (week 16)

Michigan is #4 across the board now – the AP, ESPN/Coaches', and BCS polls. Here, for the third-to-last time, is former Michigan staffer Mark Ouimet's version of the Top 25 -- with comments on each team, including insightful looks ahead at LSU's and USC's upcoming games this upcoming final weekend of the regular season.

1. Oklahoma – The Sooners finished the season undefeated and now losing their defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. The still have one more game against Kansas State for the Big 12 Championship before Mike Stoops leaves for Arizona, but look for another great defensive performance in the Championship game. Two weeks for the Sooners to prepare for a team should prove to be the deciding factor and a trip to the Sugar Bowl.

2. USC – A win at home for the Trojans against Oregon State will deliver a PAC Ten title and a trip to the BCS Championship game in New Orleans. The Beavers (7-4 after a surprising loss to Oregon in their last game two weeks ago) will bring the duo of QB Derek Anderson and RB Steven Jackson while trying to get the Beaver offensive attack in full force. In this game, though, look for QB Matt Leinart to take charge and deliver one of his best performances of the year, because the Trojans do not want LSU to pass them in BCS rankings.

3. LSU – The Tigers took care of Arkansas in fine fashion with a 55-24 victory at home in Baton Rouge. They now will play Georgia in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta, but even a second win this season over the Bulldogs (LSU won 17-10 at home this past September) will not jump LSU over USC in the BCS standings, since, in a cruel twist of fate, a Georgia loss would cost LSU ‘strength of schedule' points. So LSU also needs the Trojans to lose in order to get into the BCS Championship game. At any rate, Coach Saban did a fine job all year and the Tiger defense was outstanding all year long, especially with the best Defensive Line in the country!

4. Michigan – The offensive line, skill players, and coaches did an outstanding job all year long with an average of 37.2 points and 457 yards a game. This team bounced back and stuck together as they finished the regular season in Ann Arbor with a victory of Ohio State to win the Big Ten Championship. This team will be headed to Pasadena with a match up most likely against LSU or, possibly, Texas. Look for RB Chris Perry to receive an invitation to New York City for the Heisman and stay focused on this weeks football games as the Wolverines will find out who their opponent most likely will be in the Rose Bowl.

5. Georgia – They Bulldogs didn't have a problem on the road last week against Georgia Tech where QB David Greene delivered in Atlanta. Coach Richt now will most likely take on LSU in the SEC Championship where a win will put them into the BCS games and also move them up in the polls. While a loss puts them in Florida on New Years day in Orlando or Tampa against a Big Ten team. The Bulldogs lost on the road to LSU earlier in the year 17-10 and will have to match the defensive tempo of LSU to win the second time around.

6. Texas – The two best Quarterbacks in the country while in High School matched up this weekend in College Station, Vincent Young and Reggie McNeal with the Longhorns coming out on top with a 46-15 victory. RB Cedric Benson ran for 283 yards and four touchdowns, while the Longhorns strengthened their position for the school's first BCS bid against their rival Texas A&M. The Aggies were not the best team this year, but the victory could get them to the Fiesta or, possibly but less likely, the Rose Bowl. Keep your eye on this team, because they are going to give someone a great match-up come bowl season.

7. Tennessee – The Vols took care of Kentucky with a solid second half performance and 17 points in overcoming the 7-3 deficit at Halftime. Coach Fulmer will now have to wait to see their fate in a couple of weeks, but with a few upsets they might be able to sneak into a BCS game. The Vols will be a team glued to the TV this weekend to find out what might happen in the near future for vacation plans.

8. Miami (Fl) – The Hurricanes captured a Bowl bid to the BCS and a piece of the title this weekend against the Panthers. They shut down WR Larry Fitzgerald and might have taken him out of the Heisman hunt with that great defensive effort in the victory, while limited the Panthers only to 14 points. The Hurricanes now will wait to see what the BCS picture might look like after this weekend.

9. Florida State – The Seminoles aren't complaining after a 38-34 victory in the Swamp, but some Gator fans are not very happy. A win on the road keeps the Seminole fans happy, especially when they already lost to the Hurricanes earlier in the year. Now the Seminoles wait for the BCS fate to learn their next opponent, but with an ACC title in hand any opponent will be fine with Coach Bowden and QB Chris Rix.

10. Ohio State – This team isn't has good as people thought it might be this year after winning the title last year. The Buckeye's were over ranked all year long and now with two losses they are fighting for an at large bid to the BCS with Georgia, Texas, and Tennessee. They have great special teams, which probably is the best in the country. They need the right match-up come Bowl time or this team will get beat again.

11. Purdue – They are the third best team in the Big Ten, but how good is the Big Ten? We will find out soon as the Boilermakers are headed to Florida to take on a team from the SEC either in the Citrus or Outback Bowl. Coach Tiller must come up with a good game plan against a good defense that in will face in an SEC team. The Boilermakers need a better game plan than when they faced Michigan or they will get the same result, because their defense will give up some points as we all found out against Bowling Green.

12. Iowa – They finished the season 5-3 in the Big Ten with losses coming to Michigan State, Ohio State, and Purdue. They will not find out where they will be going come the holiday season for another week, but bowls will remember that this is the same Hawkeye team that beat Michigan. Coach Ferentz will have this team excited and ready to play whoever and wherever!

13. Miami (Oh) – They Red Hawks have already accepted an invitation to the GMAC Bowl on December 18 regardless of the outcome against Bowling Green. They will be playing for the MAC Championship this Thursday on National TV after blowing out Central Florida this week with QB Ben Roethlisberger leading the way for the high powered Red Hawk offense. Look for the Red Hawks to win the MAC Championship and beat Bowling Green for a second time this season.

14. Kansas State – The Wildcat offensive unit will come into this game against the Sooners with everything it has to surprise them. The duo or QB Ell Roberson and RB Darren Sproles have to be at its best to beat the Sooners this week in the Big 12 Championship game. They are trying to secure a BCS bid with the victory this week, but the Wildcat defense must find a way to shut down QB Jason White and Company. This will be the game of the weekend, so keep your eye on this match-up!

15. Boise State – A 56-3 Victory against Nevada and the Broncos are scoring all kinds of points! This Bronco team still has one game left against Hawaii on the road, so QB Ryan Dinwiddie needs to deliver one more win to close out the WAC and improve possible bowl opponents. This is a high powered offensive going against another high powered offense, so look for a high scoring affair in Hawaii this weekend.

16. Mississippi – They defeated Mississippi State 31-0 with the defense leading the way in the rival game, but don't get me wrong QB Eli Manning had another outstanding day for the Rebels. The defensive unit finished the season strong and if they would have started the season stronger might have made a run for a BCS bid, instead they will be fighting for SEC Bowl positioning.

17. Florida – A tough loss to the Seminoles at home in the Swamp, but it wasn't with the help of the officials with some close calls in the game that could have gone either way. The Gators are without a question the best four loss team in the country and I feel bad for whoever they get in a bowl game, because these Gators are going to be hungry!

18. Washington State – The loss against Washington is still hurting the Cougars, but will be watching this weekend to see how the Beavers do against the Trojans. With two bad losses to Notre Dame and Washington the Cougars could slip down a bowl since they don't travel well anyways. This team as be over ranked all year long and will have to play its best to win a bowl game.

19. Bowling Green – The Falcons took care of Toledo this past weekend with QB Josh Harris leading the way again. They now get a second change against Miami of Ohio in the MAC Championship, so they need to come in with a good game plan offensively to keep their defense off of the field. A must win to stay in the Top 25!

20. Nebraska – A win on the road against Colorado, a 9-3 finish, in the top 25, and they fire Frank Solich! That is not right when a guy can win 10 games and gets fired. It is too bad when college football comes to that point, but they will play in a bowl game and probably will win! Stay tuned, because it will not take long for them to get a new coach.

21. Oklahoma State – They didn't play this week, but with Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech losing they move up in the polls. The Cowboys have beaten all the teams they should have this year with the three losses coming to Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. They should get a good match-up in a Bowl game and will pose some problems with WR Rashuan Woods.

22. TCU – With the combination of losing last week to Southern Mississippi and barely beating one of the worst teams in college football 20-13 this past week they have dropped in the polls for consecutive weeks. The Horned Frogs have been over ranked all year and it will be fun to watch them in their Bowl game, because this defense gives up too many points.

23. Minnesota – A good year, but finished the season with a bad loss to Iowa. They moved up two spots in the polls without even playing a game and RB Laurence Maroney was named freshmen of the year in the Big Ten. Coach Mason has the ground game in full affect, but must improve the passing attack in bowl preparation this year to stay in the Top 25. Remember this is the same team that beat Arkansas last year in Nashville!

24. Maryland – With 28 points in the second half they overcame the halftime deficit against Wake Forest to pull out the victory and now are back in the Top 25. The Terps have accepted to play in the Gator Bowl and should be able to match-up well with an opponent. They have finished second in the ACC and have bounced back well from the early loss to Northern Illinois.

25. West Virginia – The Mountaineers are the second best four loss team in the country this year behind the Gators from Florida. They took care of the Temple Owls this past weekend and finished with only one loss in the Big East. They will have to wait to see where they will be sent for the Bowl game, but with this offense they will give someone a great challenge defensively.

Southern Mississippi – They finished up the victory against TCU with another victory against ECU, so Southern Mississippi is playing well to close the season. They are the winners of the C-USA Championship and will present a challenge to whoever they get in a bowl game. Look for this team and Coach Bower to crack the Top 25 after bowl season!

Pittsburgh – Tough losses to finish the year in the last three weeks against West Virginia and Miami, but the Panthers are probably the third best team in the Big East. Coach Harris needs to win the Bowl game and stop worry about his next job! Look for WR Larry Fitzgerald to be invited to New York City, but don't look for him to be the winner.

Virginia Tech – Four losses on the year with three of them coming in the Big East league play and that will drop you out of the Top 25. They are going to their 11th consecutive bowl game, but three losses in four weeks don't go over well in Blacksburg with the trip to the bowl being the Insight Bowl game. Look for a better prepared Hokie team that finished the regular season in horrible fashion.

UConn – The Huskies are better than people think with their three losses coming to Boston College, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina State. They are hoping for a chance to play in a bowl game, but haven't been invited yet! They will be in the Big East soon and they better watch out for the Huskies!

Utah – In Coach Meyer's first year he wins the outright title in the Mountain West, but this conference was also down a little this year. The Ute's played well all year while beating California, Colorado State, Air Force, and Oregon with the losses to hard to overcome against Texas A&M and New Mexico to get into the Top 25. They will get a decent team in the Bowl game, which a win will put them into the Top 25.

North Texas – This Sun Belt team has won their Conference Championship two weeks ago and followed up with a victory on the road against New Mexico State. Coach Dickey has the Mean Green going to its third straight bowl game and might be able to surprise someone who will look past them. The Mean Green's three losses on the year are against Oklahoma, Air Force, and Arkansas with all three coming on the road, which aren't bad teams to lose against.

The Michigan Insider Top Stories