Mark Ouimet's Top 25

Here is former Assistant Recrutiing Coordinator Mark Ouimet's pre-bowl Top 25.

Ouimet's Top 25
(week 17, pre-bowl)

1. Miami (Fl.) – Undefeated and ready to repeat are the Hurricanes. Ohio State will not be a problem for the Hurricanes in the Fiesta Bowl -- This isn't even going to be close. And look for the Heisman to come from this team with candidates in QB Ken Dorsey and RB Willis McGahee.

2. Ohio State – The Buckeye fans can't get enough tickets to the game, but little do they know they would benefit from staying home.

3. Iowa – Another good week for the Hawkeyes with Coach of the Year and Player of the Year for QB Brand Banks. They are headed to South Beach in the best bowl match up this season against USC in the Orange.

4. Georgia – The Bulldogs will run like dogs right through the Florida State defense in the Sugar this New Years and will move up in the polls. This team is better than Ohio State for sure, so they will at least move up one spot. LB Tony Gilbert is my MVP of this team with over 100 tackles this year. The Bulldog defense was underrated all year and showed it against Arkansas in the SEC Championship game.

5. Kansas State – This team beat USC earlier in the year and will stay ahead of them in my poll with the Cougars playing a decent Sun Devil team in the Holiday bowl. They are a team that can put some points on the board.

6. USC – Coach Pete Carroll and the Trojans have their hands full with the Hawkeyes, but this game will be a classic for sure in Miami. With Heisman finalist Carson Palmer directing this offense will they be able to pick apart the Norm Parker defense?

7. Oklahoma – This will be their first trip to the Rose Bowl and it will be a memorable one for the Sooners. Look for RB Quentin Griffin to slash right through the average WSU defense in this Rose Bowl game. The Sooners were angry after that loss to Oklahoma State, and Colorado couldn't hang with them in the championship game.

8. Texas – Texas/LSU is a great match up of two proud teams in the Cotton Bowl and the Longhorns are going to need a good day from the Offensive Line in this game to block those two spectacular Tiger defensive lineman.

9. Washington State – So much for the Rose Bowl tradition. With this match up against the Sooners you can look for the first non PAC Ten or Big Ten winner since 1946 except for last years National Championship game. The Cougars will not be able to move the ball against that Sooner defense.

10. Penn State – RB Larry Johnson and the Nittany Lions are headed to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando against the Auburn Tigers. Auburns defense will pose some problems for RB Larry Johnson and this game should go down to the wire. Look out for the underrated Tiger offense and two exceptional Tight Ends.

11. Alabama – With Coach Fran moving on to Texas A&M who will be the next replacement? The Tide might be able to sneak into the Top 10, but they must find a coach to get the ball rolling in recruiting. With limited scholarships it is a must to find kids that can play right away in this program.

12. Notre Dame – They should not have received a BCS bowl bid; the Gator Bowl is where they belong against North Carolina State. Look for NC State's QB Philip Rivers and RB TA McClendon to have some success moving the ball, but with the Irish defense keeping it close it will go down to the wire in Jacksonville.

13. Michigan – Headed to Florida again, but this time in the Outback bowl against QB Rex Grossman and the Gators. Will the Wolverines and Coach Herrmann be able to put the clamps on the Gator offense?

14. West Virginia – With the Irish bumping the Mountaineers out of the Gator Bowl they are headed to the Continental Tire Bowl against Virginia. This game will be a close game and they key to the game will be RB Avon Cobourne and his 1593 yards with a 5.1 per carry average.

15. Boise State – Coach Bleymaier and the Broncos get to play at home in the Humanitarian Bowl and take on the unranked Iowa State Cyclones and QB Seneca Wallace. It will be a test for Iowa State, but they have learned from many tough losses this season after that fast start in the beginning of the year.

16. North Carolina State – A school record ten wins this season and trip to the Gator Bowl against the Irish. QB Philip Rivers will need to move the ball against the Irish defense, and look for a Wolfpack defense trying to confuse the Irish with new fronts and coverages.

17. Colorado – The last time the Buffaloes met the Badgers in 1995 they won 43-7, and I wouldn't expect anything different again. The biggest question for Colorado is whether or not RB's Chris Brown and Bobby Purify will play in this Alamo Bowl game against the Badgers.

18. Florida State – We have a coaches' reunion in this game against the Bulldogs, but this game will be over at kick-off. The Seminoles aren't going to move the ball against this Bulldog defense in New Orleans.

19. Auburn – The last time the Tigers played Penn State the Nittany Lions defeated Auburn 43-14 in 1995 in the Outback Bowl. There isn't a doubt in my mind that this Capital One Bowl in Orlando will be much closer than the game from 1995.

20. Maryland – A bad loss at the end of the year gives them the chance of playing Tennessee in the Peach Bowl. This will be a good solid game and it is going to be interesting to see who wins this one.

21. Virginia Tech – Headed to the West Coast to take on Air Force in San Francisco and their option attack. Coming of a tough loss against the Hurricanes and a surprisingly high scoring affair can they stop Air Force in this game at Pacific Bell Park.

22. Florida – With QB Rex Grossman deciding on the NFL look for Coach Zook to have a great game plan on how to attack that Wolverine defense in Tampa. This is one of those matches that everybody has been waiting for; we will see who wants it the most.

23. LSU – A big come back loss kept them out of the SEC Championship game. Look for the Longhorns to have success in the Cotton Bowl against the Tigers on Jan. 1 in Dallas.

24. South Florida – With 19 Straight wins at home in Raymond James Stadium (second to the Miami Hurricanes) I can't leave this team out of the Top 25, which is why they should have received a bowl bid. But without a tie in with a conference this team will be left at home, but not out of my Top 25.

25. Arkansas – After a 30-3 loss to Georgia in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta he Razorbacks went from BCS to Music City in a matter of minutes. Look for QB Matt Jones and Razorbacks to beat the worst bowl bound team from the Big Ten in Minnesota.

OTHERS:

Colorado State – With three losses and the last loss to UNLV at the end of the season the Rams still are on the outside looking into the Top 25. With a good solid win against TCU they might sneak back into this poll after the Liberty Bowl.

Marshall – This team doesn't deserve to be in the Top 25 yet, but with the MAC Championship and a GMAC Bowl win against Louisville they will deserve a ranking.

Pittsburgh – Back to back losses to Miami and West Virginia dropped them out of my Top 25 until they beat a team to improve their 8-4 record, which they might accomplish at the Insight Bowl against Oregon State.

Tennessee – Will make it back into the Top 25 with a win over Maryland in the Peach Bowl. You can expect a huge Vol fan base down in Atlanta at this game on December 31.

Arizona State – A win against Kansas State at the Holiday Bowl and they will be the first five-loss team into my poll. The Sun Devils can put some points on the board, so they are not out of the game at anytime.

Virginia – With this match up vs. West Virginia played in the state of North Carolina you can expect a lot of fans to make the trip, but even with a win here it will be hard for the Cavaliers to make the Top 25.

Air Force – At 8-4 it is simple, if they beat Virginia Tech in San Francisco than they are in the Top 25.

Hawaii – A tough loss to Alabama this past weekend still keeps them out of my Top 25, but up next is San Diego State this weekend which will be a high scoring affair.

TCU – They are the best team in Conference USA, but face a must win against the Rams to even get consideration. They must stop RB Cecil Sapp and put some points on the board.

Oregon State – A middle of the road team in the PAC Ten, but a win in a bowl game against Pittsburgh might sneak them in.

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