Ouimet's Top 25 (Week 2)

Former U-M staffer Mark Ouimet's Top 25 after Sept. 4th's games.

1. USC – The National Champions of last year and they started out on the road in the BCA Classic game against Virginia Tech with a 24-13 victory. During this game the Trojans found a new WR in Running Back Reggie Bush, as he came out of the backfield to give the Trojans three touchdowns. Reggie caught five passes for 127 yards as Quarterback Matt Leinart was 19 of 29 for 272 with three touchdowns to start his Heisman campaign. If Reggie Bush can keep those numbers up all year people will forget about Mike Williams in a hurry. The other Wide Receivers Steve Smith, Dwayne Jarrett, and Chris McFoy only combined for eight catches and 87 yards, while Matt Leinart hit for 11 straight passes at one point during the game. The Trojans were able to get some mismatches out there with Reggie coming out of the backfield and offensive coordinator Norm Chow did an outstanding job with the game planning. The Trojans play at home against Colorado State, which is coming off of a tough loss to Colorado, so look for more of the same this week from the defending National Champions!

2. Miami (Fl) – The Hurricanes end up with a bye this week due to Hurricane Frances as it moved a lot closer to Florida's east coast. This National Televised game which was scheduled for Labor Day, but is now rescheduled for Sept. 10 in the Orange Bowl. With both teams being in the top 10 this game will affect the National Title race. Quarterback Brock Berlin must be on top of his game as he will face the Seminole defense that will try and force him into mistakes with tons of zone blitzes and coverage's throughout this game. Brock must step up and deliver in a mistake free game for the Hurricanes to defeat the Seminoles this season. Brock has struggled in the past with aggressive defenses which have strong blitz packages, but with new offensive coordinator Dan Werner at the helm look for Brock's touchdown interception ratio to improve this year. The Hurricanes move up this week even though they didn't play a game!

3. Oklahoma – Ended last year with two losses to Kansas State and LSU, which is why the Sooners are happy with any kind of victory. They did struggle with Bowling Green at times in a 40-24 victory, but it still was the first game of the season. Jason White was 21 of 31 for 238 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. The Sooners were great in the ground game as Kejuan Jones and Adrian Peterson both rushed for over 100 yards out of the backfield. The Athletic ability of the Sooners in the end won the game against the Falcons and put them away, but they will find out the road is going to get tougher as the Big 12 season is right around the corner. Before the Sooners host Oregon in two weeks they get a date with the Houston Cougars, so Stoops needs to get his defense in order for the Championship run this season.

4. Florida State – The game was postponed until this Friday with Hurricane Frances on its way, but remember the Seminoles lost to the Hurricanes twice last year and have lost to them in five straight games now. There is not a question of how important this game is not only for the ACC Championship, but for the National Title picture. This is a must win for Bobby Bowden and Company and Quarterback Chris Rix must lead this team and put some points on the board. The key to this game is going to be the Seminoles defense and the success that it will have against the Hurricanes. They must come in with a Blitz package to get to QB Brock Berlin and find a way to stop the Hurricane ground attack. This is a field position game and one mistake could deliver a knock out punch for one of these teams. Quarterback Chris Rix is the key for the Seminoles and this team will be as far as Chris Rix will take them this season!

5. Georgia – The Bulldogs start the first game at home with a 48-28 victory over Georgia Southern and it was a true freshman that led the way in Running Back Danny Ware who rushed for 135 yards. The Bulldogs didn't have one 100 yard rusher in 14 games last year and it was the first freshmen since 1943 to start at tailback for the Bulldogs. He ran well all day showing his durability and his capability of finding the holes. Quarterback David Green completed 9 of 14 passes for 161 yards and now has a chance to become the quarterback with the most wins in NCAA history this season. The defense for the Bulldogs still has some work to do as they gave up 294 yards rushing as Georgia Southern kept this game respectable by playing hard all day long. The Bulldogs now travel to South Carolina to take on the Gamecocks in an SEC battle in which the defense must improve on stopping the run to win.

6. Texas – The Longhorns ran all over North Texas with 513 yards on the ground in a 65-0 victory and led at the half 44-0. The Longhorns put together a dominating performance with running back Cedric Benson leading the way for 181 yards and two touchdowns, while averaging 12.1 yards a carry. The offense picked up the running game right where it left off from last season and put together a third best school record of 673 yards. The Longhorns have put together a perfect start of the season by coming out and taking care of business, but this year they can not afford to look past Arkansas like last year and will have to answer to the tougher test this week against the Razorbacks. This will be an emotional game for the Longhorns after getting beat last year, but RB Cedric Benson has put together a great start not only for the Longhorns as well as run to New York City for the Heisman.

7. Florida – Not only the game of the week was canceled, but so was the Gators game against Middle Tennessee State. The Hurricane not only has affected the kid's lives, but also the college football schedule. They are scheduled to host Eastern Michigan this week, but there is another Hurricane on the way. If the Gators get a chance to play they will roll over the Eagles at the same speed as a Hurricane would hit the coast of Florida. The Eagles are one of the worst college football teams and not even a position coach from Northwestern can change the tune at Eastern Michigan. The Gators are young, loaded, and waiting to kick this season off this year so look for a hungry team in this game as they get there first chance this week at home in Gainesville before they have to go to Tennessee the following week. Coach Zook needs a great start to this season both offensively and defensively after back to back five loss seasons.

8. West Virginia – Kay-Jay Harris ran for a school record of 337 yard and four touchdowns as the Mountaineers ran all over East Carolina in a 56-23 victory. Harris had 25 carries and looks like he will be the next star at running back and will most likely become the Mountaineers ninth straight 1,000 yard rusher. If this team needs to improve on anything before they go down and take on George O'Leary's team in Central Florida it would be the elimination of the penalties. The Mountaineers had 141 yards in penalties and can't afford that many mistakes in every game. They only had a 143 yards passing but QB Marshall doesn't need to throw much when you have a ground attack that is in full force. This team as a great chance of going undefeated, so keep your eye out as the season pans out and don't forget that the Montaineers don't have to play Miami and the Virginia Tech game this year is a non-conference game!

9. California – The Bears got out to a great second half and pulled away from Air Force in the second half with a 56-14 win. It took some time to figure out the unbalanced offense, but did and made some great adjustments for the second half and was aligned correctly in the defensive scheme to stop the run. Coach Tedford did a great coaching job and kept his team poised all day while they got a good test for their defense. Offensively the Bears had touchdowns on their first three possessions and than five more in the second half finishing with 573 yards of total offense with an opening road win! QB Aaron Rodgers was 11 of 16 for 208 yards and a touchdown, while WR JJ Arrington had an outstanding game with 16 catches for 181 yards and three touchdowns. The Bears did a great job mixing up the offense and didn't waste any time moving down the field against the Air Force defense. Look for more of the same this week as the Bears take on New Mexico State and don't be surprised to see this team in a possible upset of USC down the road!

10. LSU – Yes, they shared the National Championship last year with USC and now they know they were lucky this weekend against Oregon State to escape with a win. The Beaver's Kicker Alexis Serna missed three extra points on Saturday and with that said the Tigers were able to escape a 22-21 victory in the opener. The Tigers trailed all night long, but fought as long as they could and without the defense continuing to give those shots there wouldn't have been an overtime game in Baton Rouge. The Tigers were able to score first and put the pressure on the Beavers in overtime and once again they missed an extra point that lifted the Tigers to victory, but that game for the Tigers will drop them in the poll after escaping a game that they should have lost. The Tigers have a lot of work ahead of them, because playing like that on the road will not help them in games at Auburn, Georgia, and Florida. The Tigers can't afford to play sloppy anymore!

11. Michigan – The Wolverines started there first Freshman Quarterback since Rick Leach did in 1975, but Chad Henne answered the call with a two touchdown day as well as completing 14 of 24 for 142 yards and had one interception, while getting two touchdown passes. This kid is a young pup, but has a strong arm and very poised for his age considering he hasn't even gone to class! It helps to have not only a talent team around him offensively, but one of the best young coaches in the game in Quarterback Coach Scot Loeffler. The Wolverines won in easy fashion, but the defense is what separated the difference by forcing five turnovers and scoring a touchdown. The Red Hawks had a 14 game winning streak coming into the game but now have book end losses to two different Big Ten teams during that stretch to Iowa and Michigan. Offensively the Wolverines were led by WR Braylon Edwards who had six catches for 91 yards and two touchdowns, while RB David Underwood had 22 carries for 61 yards and two touchdowns. The Wolverines are headed down to South Bend to take on the Irish next and look for another big win from the Wolverines as this Irish team can't put together anything offensively. The Irish are coming off a loss to a very bad BYU football team and in the process they only had 11 yards rushing. Look for an aggressive Michigan defense, while the Wolverine offense will dominate the line of scrimmage in this game and will not have any trouble moving the ball down the field both by air and ground. Turnovers are the only thing that will slow the Wolverines down against a very bad Notre Dame team that is now in a desperate need to get a victory for Coach Tyrone Willingham. Another loss to the Wolverines and Urban Meyer will be on his way to South Bend!

12. Auburn – The Tigers delivered a win as the offense was able to produce some points with RB Carnell Williams leading the way with 103 yards on 23 carries in a 31-0 victory over Louisiana-Monroe. This no name defense answered the call with a shut out, which is a different start to the season than last year's loss to the Trojans of USC. The Tigers were able to man-handled them up front as QB Jason Campbell was 11 of 18 for 110 yards, but did make a few mistakes in the process by fumbling once and having one interception on the day. This was a good tune up for the Tigers as they travel to Mississippi State this week and than follow that up with hosting LSU. We know the capabilities of this team, but they must compete in the conference and build on the success of each victory. This is team led by Coach Tuberville that builds on momentum from each victory and has tough times bouncing back from losses. Can this defense with that has a no name attitude continue to improve while putting together the right blitz and zone packages in the process?

13. Wisconsin – This was an easy victory for the Badgers at home in Madison, Wisconsin as they beat Central Florida 34-6 who were without Head Coach George O'Leary this week due to a death in his family. The Badgers might be the best team in the Big Ten and unfortunately they will not get the chance to play the University of Michigan this year. RB Anthony Davis had 13 carries for 78 yards and one touchdown than had to leave the game with an eye injury, plus it looks like he will be out three weeks and that hurts his chance at the Heisman. Look for the new tailback to be Booker Stanley this week for the Badgers as he will be running behind a solid offensive line in front of him. The Badgers are very sound offensively and will play consistent defense every week. The Badgers are hosting UNLV this week at home and are looking to avenge last year's loss to the Rebels this week. This team is very focused and are on a mission to get back in the thick of things in the Big Ten race come November. By the way don't ask Coach Alvarez if he likes instant Replay so far as they had one called back in this game!

14. Ohio State – The Buckeyes handed former defensive coordinator his first loss this past Saturday 27-6 in Columbus, Ohio. The Buckeyes defense was able to slow the Bearcats to just 238 yards of total offense and was great on third down. Offensively RB Lydell Ross rushed for 141 yards and a touchdown, while QB Justin Zwick was 14 of 26 for 213 yards and a touchdown. The Buckeye's started out slow, but remember the team had to replace 13 starters from last year, which is a team that finished 11-2 and looks like they are right on track so far as they look forward to the Big Ten race with Michigan this year. Look for a more focused team this year as they go through the Big Ten and not looking over anyone this year, because they must travel to NC State, Iowa, and Michigan State. Don't forget the two big games against Wisconsin and Michigan either!

15. Purdue – The first shut out by the Boilermakers in four years in a 51-0 victory over Syracuse. The Boilermakers did a great job getting to the ball and pursuing on each play. They were able to get penetration on the Orangeman offensive line and get in the back field to disrupt some plays. The defense played extremely well especially with eight new starters that the coaches thought would take some time to develop this year. They held Syracuse to 197 yards, while forcing four fumbles, three sacks, and two interceptions. Now Syracuse by no means is a great football team, but for the Boilermakers to put that kind of game together, stay in there alignment, and not over pursue like they have done in past games is a great surprise to start the season. Offensively, Quarterback Kyle Orton passed for 287 yards and four touchdowns as he led the team to 571 yards and seven touchdowns as he is trying to get a seat in New York for the Heisman. This is a lot better start to the season than last years loss to Bowling Green, so look for more of the same this week against Ball State and Coach Brady Hoke as they will try to prepare for a run at a Big Ten Championship Season!

16. Utah - The Utes had 435 yards of offense and QB Alex Smith made sure they justified their preseason ranking as they got past Texas A&M 41-21 as college football opened up. Coach Meyer loves to spread you out and make it tough to stop the Utes. QB Alex Smith passed for a personal best with 359 yards and Utah never looked back as he completed 21 of 29 passes, while running 13 times for 76 yards. This was a great win for the Utes has they lost to the Aggies last year 28-26 when a two-point play failed in the final seconds! The Utes will now travel to Arizona to take on the Wildcats and look for another strong game from Utah, while they look to repeat as Mountain West Conference Champions!

17. Iowa - The Hawkeye's were able to shut down the Golden Flashes of Kent State in the opening game with the final score being 39-7 as they only gave up 110 total yards. The Hawkeye's have a solid defensive unit led by LB Greenway who had 10 tackles and two picks with one being a touchdown! Iowa's offense was decent, but nothing spectacular as Drew Tate gave up an interception at the goal line for a 100 yard touchdown return for the Golden Flashes, but Tate did throw two touchdowns in his first career start. The Hawkeye's need to improve on the offensive side of the ball and in some other areas as well, but they are young and well coached so they should get corrected the longer we get into the season! The Hawkeye's get one more warm up game at home before they head on the road to take on Arizona State and Michigan in back to back weeks!

18. Kansas State - This game was a lot closer than everyone anticipated, but Heisman candidate Darren Sproles saved the day with 221 yards and a touchdown in the 27-13 victory in Manhattan, Kansas. It is obvious that Kansas State needs to improve and has some issues both offensively and defensively that needs to get corrected during this week. They have a great running back in Darren Sproles, but they will not win the Big 12 this year with only one horse, so they need to get QB Dylan Meier into the action as he gains more experience in running this offense. They need to create opportunities not only with his are, but also running the football like they did last year for Ell Roberson. They will not be able to make the mistakes or turn the ball over this week as they will take on Fresno State, which is a team that just went up to Seattle and beat Washington this past week.

19. Memphis – This might be the best team in the South and they were impressive in their 20-13 victory over Mississippi on the road. QB Wimprine was 21 of 43 for 266 yards and one touchdown as he led the Tigers in this wide open attack style offense, while RB Williams rushed for well over 100 yards. They have a great schedule without having to play TCU and with Southern Miss, Louisville, and Houston all at home, but they must stay focused as they have UT-Chattanooga this week at home in the Liberty Bowl. Did I say Liberty Bowl, that's right and that is exactly what the Tigers are trying to do as they make their run at the C-USA Title! The Tigers are loaded on offense with QB Danny Wimprine and RB DeAngelo Williams plus the return of the entire offensive line gives them the best 1-2 punch in this conference, but the offense can't do it all by themselves and must continue to play like they did against Ole Miss. The fate of this team will rest on the defense and defensive coordinator Joe Lee Dunn!

20. Missouri – Offensively with QB Brad Smith the Tigers are in good hands, but defensively is where they need to improve after the 52-20 victory in Columbia, Missouri. The Tigers gained 506 yards, while smith ran for 63 yards on six carries and completing 14 of 22 passes for 233 yards. With those numbers and the three touchdowns Brad Smith will be making a run at the Heisman as he is the leader of this Tiger team. Defensively the Tigers made too many mental mistakes, but Coach Pinkel prides himself on correcting errors and you should see a much improved team from week one to week two. They now will travel to Troy State who is a team that just beat Marshall 17-15, so if they continue with the lack of focus on defensive side of the ball, we might have a close game this week for the Tigers!

21. Nebraska – There was a massive change in Lincoln and Callahan got the Huskers out to a good start against Western Illinois with a 56-17 victory, but they still have a lot of work to do with a young quarterback who was 15 of 30 with four touchdowns and four interceptions. While putting the game away by halftime both tailbacks were able to rush for over 100 yards in this game. The Cornhuskers have gone to the west coast offense, but will the offensive attack be the same this week against Southern Mississippi. The Cornhuskers have won their nation leading 19th straight opening game, but must continue to manage this new offensive system and improve on special teams to even think about winning their division in the Big 12.

22. Virginia – The Cavaliers rolled over Temple with a 44-14 victory, while RB Wali Lundy ran for 104 yards on three touchdowns. Coach Al Groh has done a nice job with the Cavalier program and it is nice to see that the Cavaliers can win on the road even though the Owls have 13 straight losing seasons, but Virginia seems to be a Top 25 program again. Defensively the Cavaliers were able to force some turnovers and get the ball back into QB Marques Hagans hands as he finished up the game going 17 of 22 for 211 yards, while throwing and rushing for a touchdown. It didn't look like an opening game for the Cavaliers, but Coach Groh knew how to make his team feel comfortable with his play calling all day long. This is a well coached team that is now going to take on three bad football teams in successful weeks against North Carolina, Akron, and Syracuse. Watch out for this team!

23. Tennessee - Two freshman Quarterbacks led the way for the Vols after they both made there first career start in front of sold out house. Erik Ainge and Schaeffer both played well and the offensive unit lifted them up throughout the game as they finally settled down in the 42-17 win over UNLV. Both Quarterbacks bring something different to the table with Ainge's arm and Schaeffer's running ability, but you are probably going to see both of them all year long. Schaeffer was 7 of 10 for 123 yard and Ainge was 10 of 17 for 118 yards. The Vols did lose RB Cedric Houston with an ankle injury in the second half, but he still rushed for 97 yards. Look for Gerald Riggs to pick up the slack as he ran for 79 yard on 13 carries. Tennessee does have a bye this week before they will host the Florida Gators in a SEC Match-up, so look for a solid game in two weeks from Coach Fulmer's team!

24. Clemson – Coach Tommy Bowden was on the hot seat last year and the Tigers were looking for revenge in this game against Wake Forest after last years game. Charlie Whitehurst was 20 of 41 for 288 yards and two touchdowns, while also giving up two interceptions. This was game that gave the fans in Death Valley a little of everything in the opener during this two overtime thriller, but before next week the Tiger defense must improve as they have Georgia Tech next week. The Tigers couldn't slow down Wake Forest RB Chris Barclay, while he ran for 179 yards and breaking one of those carries for 50 yards. The defensive play of the Tigers is going to have to step up to plate and defend the run better or the Tigers will not be in the Top 25 for very long.

25. Oklahoma State – The Cowboys played a solid game on the road against the Bruins in a 31-20 victory at the Rose Bowl. Coach Miles has done a wonderful job with that program and the offensive unit was able to run the ball at will against the Bruins. RB Morency rushed 29 times for 261 yards and two touchdowns, which is unbelievable for a team that is trying to find itself after the loss to its standout wide receiver from last year. The Cowboys get a few weeks of rest as they get to play Tulsa, SMU, and Iowa State, so look for a continued rise in the Top 25 chart the next couple of weeks. The Cowboys will only go as far as the defense will take them this year, so we will have to wait and see as teams like Colorado, Missouri, and Oklahoma fall onto the schedule later on this season! But keep a close eye out for this team!

Others to watch:

26. Fresno State – A win at Kansas State means they stopped Darren Sproles!
27. Oregon State - If they can win a game against Boise State, they might sneak in!
28. TCU – Beating Northwestern won't get you into the Top 25 or even with a win against SMU!
29. Arkansas – A win against Texas in back to back years makes them 2-0 and in!
30. Minnesota – Wins against Toledo and Illinois State, will not get you into the Top 25!
31. Louisville – Beating Kentucky and Army still won't get you in just yet!
32. Oregon – Indiana victory – no, but Oklahoma – yes to the Top 25!
33. Virginia Tech – You have to beat someone to get in!
34. UConn – Watch out for this team, because a win at BC they might be in!
35. Washington State – A long ways to go, but Colorado this week!
36. Arizona State – They play Northwestern this week, so it might be a couple weeks still!
37. UCLA – A must win on the road at Illinois, just to stay here!
38. Maryland – Play West Virginia in two weeks, need I say more!
39. San Diego State – What can they do in the big house next week?
40. Navy – A ways to go, but they could do it!

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