Michigan Knock-knock-knocking on Top Ten's Door

The AP and Coaches Polls are out (the BCS Poll comes out today), and Michigan is on the rise! But as U-M fans know, there is ONE poll that EXPLAINS the status of each team in the top 25-and-more: <b>The Ouimet Poll</b>. Where does the former Michigan staffer place the Wolverines? And, more importantly, why?

For the AP and Coaches Polls (on ESPN.com), click HERE.


Ouimet's Top 25 (Week 9)

1. USC – The Trojans are able to beat teams the way they should as they beat the Washington Huskies 38-0 this past Saturday. Good teams that play consistent on both sides of the ball will take care of teams the right way and not give up too many points to lesser teams, which is why the Trojans are the top ranked team in the nation and just not another Top 25 team. The Huskies are going to have their first losing season in 28 years and in the process the Trojans were able to stop the 271 game scoring streak after the shutout. The Trojans defense played very well and was able to hold the Huskies to six first downs and 113 total yards on the day. The Trojans have a great defense that will continue to frustrate offenses as they now go on the road to a struggling Washington State team, who has a new quarterback that will see how tough the Trojans defense can be this week. Quarterback Matt Leinart continues to be the Heisman front runner as he completed 24 of 43 for 217 yards and threw two touchdowns. Matt has now thrown two or more Touchdown passes in 18 of his 20 games at USC, so there isn't a question who is the most valuable player in this Trojan offense and to coordinator Norm Chow. Look for the continued success for the Matt and the Trojans this week, because the Trojans are playing as a team right now!

2. Oklahoma – The Sooners were able to blowout Kansas 41-10 as Quarterback and the reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jason White was able to complete 27 of 44 for 389 yards with four touchdowns. Not only is the Big 12 shaping up as the Sooners are now 7-0, but the Heisman race is also becoming tighter as the Sooners have two guys that are now candidates. Freshman running back Adrian Peterson is without a question the best tailback right now as he gained 126 yards on 22 carries, while becoming the quickest freshmen to gain 1,000 yards as he finished the day with 1,027 yards. When you have two guys in the backfield in Jason White and Adrian Peterson as the Sooners have this year it would be hard for any defense to defend both of these outstanding players. The Sooners and Coach Stoops are trying to win the Big 12 Championship and get the bid to Miami for the National Title game, but will have to do it on the road as three of their last four games are away from Norman. Up next for the Sooners is their interstate rival game with Oklahoma State, but look for another blowout win against the Cowboys.

3. Auburn – The Tigers high powered offense continues in the 42-10 win over Kentucky as this team is coming together and playing for one common goal which is the SEC Championship. Running back Carnell Williams was able to rush for 149 yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns, while QB Jason Campbell completed 11 of 15 for 127 yards. Defense wins championships and Coach Tuberville has his defense playing very well and is attacking other team's weaknesses. The Tigers are playing great football, but to win their division they must finish the season strong with games against Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama ahead of them in the next four weeks with a bye before the Georgia game.

4. Miami (Fl) – The Wolfpack were leading the country in total defense, but the Hurricanes put up 416 total yards and Berlin was never sacked as he threw for five touchdown passes in the 45-31 win on the road. The Hurricanes are now 6-0 and control of their own destiny in the ACC as they do remain the only team without a conference loss. The Hurricanes came out and Hester was able to return the kick for a touchdown, but let's not forget about Quarterback Brock Berlin who probably played his best game of his career at Miami completing 15 of 30 for 265 yards and five touchdowns. The five touchdowns tied a school record with Bernie Kosar, Steve Walsh, and Ken Dorsey, so to say the least that is pretty good company. The Hurricanes are on the road again this week as they go to North Carolina to take on a team that is struggling and will be looking for a new coach very soon! Look for a blowout and the end of the North Carolina's tenure!

5. Texas – The Longhorns were able to win the time of possession against the Red Raiders with over 39 minutes worth, which is one major reason they won the game 51-21. QB Vincent Young led the way with a career high of 300 yards of total offense, while running for four touchdowns. Anytime you can control the clock against Texas Tech and keep their offense on the sidelines it usually results to games like the Longhorns were able to put together this past Saturday. The Longhorns answered a lot of critics and came out on the road hitting all cylinders offensively, while RB Cedric Benson finished with 168 yards on 38 carriers and one touchdown. Cedric is now the sixth player in NCAA Division I history to rush for 1,000 yards in four consecutive seasons. The Longhorn defense was able to come up with a good game plan to slow Texas Tech's offense and did not let them produce too many points that would build their confidence in this game. This is the Longhorns second straight win over the Red Raiders and Coach Brown has done a good job getting them to bounce back from the Oklahoma loss, but unfortunately they are in the same division as the Sooners. Look for the Longhorns to run the table to finish the season with games against Colorado, Oklahoma State, Kansas, and Texas A&M.

6. California – The Cal Bears did not have any problems with Arizona as they were able to shut them out in the 38-0 victory. RB JJ Arrington was able to top 100 yards for the sixth consecutive game and WR Geoff McArthur was able to catch six passes for 94 yards, which gave him the Cal Record of career yards with 2,768 yards. The Bears are playing good football and have a great leader offensively in QB Rodgers who completed 20 of 27 for 235 yards. This was the Golden Bears first shutout since the 17-0 victory over UCLA In 1999, while running up 489 yards of total offense and if there is anything Coach Tedford needs to worry about it is not stopping themselves on certain drives with turnovers. The Bears now will host Arizona State and Quarterback Andrew Walter, so look for a better performance from the Bears with minimal mistakes on both sides of the ball this week as they will have a tough week of practice with Coach Tedford.

7. Utah - The Utes are now 7-0 with another dominating win over UNLV this week in the Utes 63-28 victory. If they continue to win like this the Utes will get a Bowl Championship Series berth and the wins over Texas A&M, Arizona, and North Carolina. The Utes were able to force four turnovers and block two punts against the Rebels as one of the punt blocks was returned for a touchdown. This is with out a question a national championship caliber team, which is playing great football and never letting up against any team. Quarterback Alex Smith was 11 of 19 for 147 yards, while also running nine times for 77 yards as he is trying to stay in the Heisman race. Next up for the Utes is San Diego State, who is 2-5 on the year, but two of those losses were to Michigan and UCLA as the game against the Wolverines ending up being a tight 24-21 loss for the Aztecs. The Utes have a great offense and Coach Urban Meyer is a hot commodity on the job market! Look for another blowout win this week as the Aztecs will not have played a better team than Coach Meyer this year!

8. Wisconsin The Badgers are now 8-0 with the 24-12 victory at home in Madison with RB Anthony Davis scoring two of the touchdowns. Coach Alvarez Badgers did not have any trouble with Northwestern's spread offense and were able to stop the Wildcats without their star player Erasmus James. The Badgers are playing great defense as the Wildcat Quarterback was just 5 of 18 for 34 yards in the first half as Wisconsin was able to take a 24-0 lead. After winning on the road against Purdue some might have thought there might be a let down from the Badgers, but Coach Alvarez has his Badgers are well focused and on a mission for the conference title. The Badgers now have a bye as they get prepared for the stretch run of games against Minnesota, Michigan State, and Iowa with the last two on the road. The Badgers shouldn't have any problem with Minnesota as they are a one dimensional team, while Michigan State and Iowa will present some problems for the Badgers. The Badgers don't have to play Michigan this year and are undefeated which would give them the Big Ten Championship with the bid to the Rose Bowl. Look for the Badgers to win their last three games as the Big Ten conference is very weak and do not have solid teams with good defenses. Are the Badgers really the best team in the Big Ten?

9. Florida State – It was a surprise to see this game as close as it was as the Seminole's were able to pull out a 20-17 victory on the road against Wake Forest. Quarterback Wyatt Sexton had a terrible day has he helped Wake Forest build their 14-3 lead with an interception and a fumble that both turned into two touchdowns for the Demon Deacons. The Seminoles are now 4-0 with Sexton leading the way as he finished the day 17 of 39 for 194 yards with two touchdowns, but look for a Quarterback competition when Chris Rix gets back. The Seminole defense is playing well and was able to hold the Deacons to 133 yards on the ground, while only giving up 270 total yards. Coach Bowden now must take his team on the road again this week to Maryland as the Seminoles have been struggling on the road this year. Don't look for that to change this week as the Seminoles will pull out another close game!

10. Tennessee – With a 17-13 win over Alabama the Volunteers are now 6-1 with their only loss coming to Auburn at home. In this game against the Tide Coach Fulmer turned to his defense to pull out this win as the Tide have the best rushing offense in the SEC. The Volunteer freshman Quarterback didn't have his best game finishing 10 of 22 for 132 yards, but that was more to do with freshman Erik Ainge facing the third best total defense in the nation. This was a field position game between Tennessee and Alabama, while neither team could maintain any amount of momentum. The Volunteers will now travel to South Carolina to take on a well coached Lou Holtz team, which this game will present another field position game with good sound defenses. This will be a tight game on the road, but look for a Volunteer victory, while Lou Holtz will retire at the end of this season.

11. Georgia – A win is a win at this point for the Bulldogs, but they did not play particularly well this weekend in the 20-14 win against a short handed Arkansas team. The Bulldogs continuously hurt themselves with penalties, turnovers, and missed kicks. If there was anything positive it was Quarterback David Greene who was 22 of 29 for 382 yards with two touchdowns, while the Bulldog offense was able to put up 513 yards of total offense. Coach Richt needs to have a good week of practice, because this team needs to play much better to win the SEC Championship. I don't think the Bulldogs can pull out enough to win the SEC Championship and I wouldn't be surprised to see Florida upset them this week!

12. Louisville – The Cardinals bounced back from the 41-38 loss to Miami last week with a 41-9 blowout victory with the second leading pass efficiency quarterback in the nation. Quarterback Stefan Lefors was 21 of 26 for 242 yards, while completing his first 13 passes and having one touchdown this past Friday. Coach Petrino has an effective offense with a quarterback that is completing 76 percent of his passes and is playing very exceptional right now. This offense has the capabilities of throwing many different formations and is hard to get a feel for them offensively, which is why Coach Petrino offense is ranked third in the nation in total offense. Let's not forget about the defense which was able to hold the Bulls under 250 yards of offense, which is the fourth time this year for the Cardinal defense. Coach Petrino has an important date coming up in 12 days on the road against Memphis. This game against the Tigers will help decide who will win the Conference USA, but look for the Cardinals to come out of Memphis with a win in a very close game.

13. Texas A&M – Quarterback Reggie McNeal finished with 382 yards of offense as the Aggies now have their longest winning streak since 1998 with a 29-26 overtime victory over Colorado. The Aggies are now bowl eligible as the streak continued, which was the same year they last won their only Big 12 Championship. Coach Franchione will keep things rolling this week as they play lowly Baylor this week, but remember in two weeks they will host Oklahoma in College Station. With Quarterback Reggie McNeal playing well and rushing for a career high of 139 yards on 22 carries, while completing 23 of 38 for 243 he is giving the Aggie offense tons of confidence with the big game only two weeks out. Just keep your eye on this Aggie team, because they want a chance for payback with the Sooners after that 77-0 loss to Oklahoma last year.

14. Michigan – The Wolverines' Michael Hart was able to do it again, rushing for 206 yards in the 16-14 win in West Lafayette this past Saturday. It is amazing what Michael Hart is doing out there for the Wolverines, and in the process he's broken Ricky Power U-M freshman rushing record. The Michigan defense was able to hold Orton to 14 of 30 for 213 yards as Stubblefield had just one catch for 10 yards with All-American Marlin Jackson covering him like a blanket out there. Safety Ernest Shazor delivered the biggest hit of the day as the Boilermakers were driving and caused the fumble by hitting him high to seal the win. If the Wolverines can continue to win the turnover battle with each opponent they will continue to win games in the Big Ten. The Big Ten is a weak conference and only has two good defenses with Michigan being one of them, but with another spread offense ahead of them look for the some of the same strategies this week as last. You will see a lot of four defensive linemen again, but you might also see a U-M 'spy' since Quarterback Drew Stanton is the best running quarterback in the Big Ten! Look for another win ... but its unfortunate that the Wolverines don't get to play Wisconsin!

15. Virginia – The Cavaliers senior tailback Alvin Pearman was able to run for a career high 223 yards on 38 carries and a touchdown in the 37-16. After not showing well against Florida State last week the offense was very powerful this week with 511 total yards with 348 of them being with the ground attack. Coach Al Groh was able to have a good week of practice and the Cavaliers were able to regroup after the tough loss, but this team has a tough task ahead of them with four games left against Maryland, Miami, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers will have a bye before this four game stretch begins, but look for the Cavaliers to drop at least one or more of these games as the Cavaliers are a tad over ranked.

16. Purdue – The Boilermakers have run into the best two defenses in the Big Ten in consecutive weeks which has resulted in back to back losses with this weeks coming from the University of Michigan in a 16-14 loss. Let's not forget to mention that the Boilermakers did face the best two defenses in Wisconsin and Michigan but in both games they killed themselves in the fourth quarter with fumbles in each game. The Boilermakers were unable to stop Michigan's running back in Michael Hart as he was able to break tackle after tackle against Coach Joe Tiller's defense. Quarterback Kyle Orton was 14 of 30 for 213 yards with one touchdown and one interception, which has now taken him out of any Heisman chance. When you play in the Big Ten and you lose the turnover battle your chances of winning the game are very slim, which is exactly what has happened to the Boilermakers the past two weeks. WR Taylor Stubblefield was able to get only one catch in this game as Michigan CB Marlin Jackson did an outstanding job in man to man coverage all day in West Lafayette. The Boilermakers are now in a must win situation this week on the road in Northwestern, which will end up being a shootout in Evanston as the Wildcats are in the same situation. Are the Boilermakers even the third best team in the Big Ten?

17. West Virginia – The Mountaineers are probably the best team in the Big East, but that isn't saying much for a very weak conference as West Virginia beat Syracuse 27-6 on Thursday night. QB Rasheed Marshall was able to rush 14 times for 87 yards which brought his total to 1,605 yards for his career breaking McNabbs rushing mark of 1,561. The Mountaineers took sole possession of first place and Syracuse must now win three of its final four games just to make it to a bowl game, which I don't anticipate it happening and Coach Pasqualoni will probably be looking for a job after this loss to West Virginia. If the Mountaineers do anything this week they need to continue working on their red zone package, which should improve as West Virginia goes on the road to take on Rutgers.

18. LSU – It was a close one for the Tigers in Baton Rouge in a come from behind 24-20 victory over Troy. Coach Saban and his team found a way to win this game, but must stop turning the ball over as the Tigers turned it over four times this past Saturday. This was a defensive match-up between the two teams with the Tigers getting 386 yard to 150 for Troy, so Coach Saban can always rely on his defense to make some stands and now needs to find an offense that can put some points on the board to dominate the last four unranked teams on their schedule. Look for a strong game this week as Vanderbilt comes to Baton Rouge while Coach Saban will find some offense this week in practice!

19. Oklahoma State – The Cowboys bounced back from the loss to Texas A&M last week with a come from behind 20-17 win against Missouri. Coach Les Miles did a good job at half time in making the adjustments as the Cowboys were down 17 points and now are 6-1 overall which makes them bowl eligible. The Cowboys have the nation's 110th ranked passing offense but were able to move the ball down the field in the last two minutes of the game to set up the field goal. Running back Vernand Morency had 31 carries for 173 yards against the Tiger defense, which is going to be a must this week as the Cowboys take on the Sooners next in their instate rival game. The Cowboys need to win the turnover battle, time of possession, and keep the Sooners under 24 points to win this game, which means the defense has to plays its best ever. Look for a loss at home to the Sooners, but should be a close first half and look for about 35 carries from Mr. Morency.

20. Arizona State – After the Sun Devils were dominated for 60 minutes by the Trojans in the Coliseum but they were able to bounce back against UCLA with a 48-42 victory in Tempe. Quarterback Andrew Walter was 25 of 51 for 415 yards with six touchdowns with two of them coming in the fourth quarters. Let's not forget about the Sun Devil defense as they were able to for UCLA QB Drew Olsen into four interceptions as the momentum kept changing throughout this Pac Ten battle. Both teams had many opportunities to win this game, but the Sun Devils kept responding while Coach Koetter's team never gave up. This game was a must win situation for the Sun Devils with one loss to USC, but a road game with the Cal Bears is up next and is a must win to have an outside chance at the Pac Ten title or even a second place finish.

21. Virginia Tech – The Hokies had a bye week this past Saturday to get ready for this week's game on the road at Georgia Tech. Keep in mind the Hokies have two losses on the year to USC and North Carolina State. This is a young team, but does deserve to be ranked in the Top 25 even though they are a young team. If Coach Beamer can keep them focused this week as they go to Atlanta to take on the Yellow Jackets you can expect another victory as the Hokies have more talent. The Hokies have a better defense and should win the special teams battle in this game against Georgia Tech, so look for great Beamer Ball and a win in the field position battle! Don't forget about them in the ACC Title picture, because they aren't out of it just yet!

22. Boise State – The Broncos now have won 22 straight WAC games and are leading the country in scoring with 46 points per game, but this week it was the defense that showed it could play limiting Fresno State to 17 yards rushing in the 33-16 win. The Broncos are now 4-0 over the Bulldogs outscoring them in the process 131 to 54 in the last three games. Coach Hawkins went deep into his playbook this week as they used a double pass back to Quarterback Zabransky that went for 42 yards and eventually put the Broncos up by 20 points. The Broncos were able to score on four of their first five first half possessions, but three of them ended up with field goals instead of touchdowns. The Broncos were well prepared, especially on defense, which must continue this week as the University of Hawaii is coming to town with their own high powered offense. Look for a lot of points, but another Bronco win!

23. Iowa – The Hawkeye's were not playing the Boston Red Sox this weekend, but were able to hold off Penn State in a 6-4 as they gave up two safeties in this game. Coach Ferentz made the right calls down the stretch and it was a tough week as his father passed away, but let's remember that the Hawks were still well prepared for this game! Coach Parker has done an outstanding job with the defense and you can look for a better offensive effort this week against Illinois on the road. The Hawkeye's will be able to score some points this week as the will take on the Illini who is a team just trying to get the season over and get a new coach into Champaign. Look for a blowout win as they will play host to Purdue in two weeks, which will let us know who the third best team is in the Big Ten!

24. Florida – The Gators were outplayed this week at Mississippi State in the 38-31 loss, but this team is so talented and is without a question the best three loss team in the country. The Gator defense could not stop Mississippi State, which gave Coach Sylvester Croom is first SEC win as their new head coach. Speaking of new head coaches, the Florida Gators we be in the market for one very soon if Coach Zook does not come up with a win this week on the road against Georgia. The Gators are now in a must win situation as they now have lost three SEC games this year. Look for the Gators best game of the year, but the defense will give up too many points again as the Bulldogs will win at home! Is Urban Meyer looking for houses in Gainesville?

25. Southern Mississippi – A 51-10 blowout win against East Carolina as they are still undefeated in Conference USA, but they don't have Louisville on the schedule this year. The Golden Eagles have a bye this week in preparing for Cincinnati, so look for a well prepared team as they will play host to the Bearcats. Coach Brower has done a nice job getting is team back after a tough loss on the road to Alabama two weeks ago, but he must maintain the Golden Eagles focus on the Conference Championship and not look ahead to the game against the Cal Bears! Watch out for this team as they might tie for the Conference Championship!

Others to watch:

26. Michigan State – Will Drew Stanton be able to run against Michigan's Defense in the Bighouse?
27. Georgia Tech – Losses to North Carolina and Miami, up next is Virginia Tech! Can they win?
28. Minnesota – Two losses to Michigan and MSU, so we'll wait until Wisconsin and Iowa!
29. Pittsburgh –They are playing better and up next is a road game against Syracuse!
30. Boston CollegeNotre Dame is not a good football team, but in two weeks West Virginia is!
31. Ohio State – Three losses and finish with Penn State, Michigan State, Purdue and Michigan!
32. South Carolina – How good is this Gamecock defense, we'll find out with Tennessee next!
33. UCLA – Three losses to Oklahoma State, California, and Arizona State! Stanford is up next!
34. UTEP – Only two losses to Arizona State and Boise State! Can you say Mike Price!
35. Notre Dame – They couldn't even win a Big East Championship. Look for two more losses and maybe even three as they will only win 5 or 6 games!

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