Projections for No. 11-15
11. UCLA: The Bruins have been a bit of a surprise this season, having been lost in the preseason glow of their cross-town rivals, the USC Trojans. Despite some of the off-the-field stories about the lack of fan support during home games, UCLA has managed to stay undefeated at the Rose Bowl against some good programs.
12. Illinois: The Fighting Tom Fornellis are ranked and hold the reins in a relatively weak Big Ten West. They have been playing strong football and have slowly been creeping up the rankings.
13. Utah: The Utes lost early against Florida and then tripped up against UCLA. For much of the season, they didn’t have the schedule to prove how good they were until they got a shot at USC and made the most of it. They followed that up with a win on the road at Wazzu.
14. Kansas State: The performance against Oklahoma State couldn’t have come at a better time for the Wildcats. Just imagine how high they would be ranked if they hadn’t dropped a game to Tulane. They will be having nightmares about that for months.
15. North Carolina: Need to replace your starting quarterback? No problem, just put in a guy who will compete for freshman of the year. Anyone can do it, right? The Tar Heels did do it, and despite a less-than-stellar defense, North Carolina has control of the ACC Coastal and will be one of the ranked teams in preseason that no one saw coming.