OFD Pre-Fall Top 25: No. 11-15

We'll get this Monday started by unveiling our next five teams in the One Foot Down Pre-Fall Top 25 countdown. Irish fans hold on to your hats because Notre Dame makes its appearance today.

If you've missed the first two installments click here, and here.

For those of you who are attending the Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Don't Read Good and Wanna Learn to do Other Stuff Good Too, here is a quick breakdown of the first 10 teams:

25. Texas

24. Auburn

23. Mississippi State

22. Missouri

21. Ohio State

20. Michigan State

19. Florida

18. Virginia Tech

17. Georgia

16. Nebraska

There wasn't a whole lot of controversy or bickering about the list above, but I think we'll start really debating things with the next two posts.

Here are the next five teams:

*Spring rankings in parentheses

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No. 15 Oklahoma State Cowboys (11)

Many publications have OklahomaState inside the preseason top 10 and they are one of the media’s favorite dark horse national title contenders. However, I’m having a hard time putting them that high when just about every team in this poll has a better defense than the Cowboys.

For sure their offense will be electric, but they did lose OC Dana Holgorsen and one of the nation’s most productive running backs. Even if they do return nearly every starter and a great quarterback-receiver duo, they are likely to not be as deadly as last year.

With a whole collection of tough games (Arizona, @ Tulsa, @ Texas A&M, @ Texas, @ Missouri, Oklahoma) I foresee the Cowboys splitting these six contests and taking a small step back from last year’s 11-win season.

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No. 14 Southern California Trojans (13)

Despite not having an all-world defense anymore, some very serious depth concerns, and an unproven head coach, the USC Trojans still remain a dangerous team.

If they can stay healthy on offense they should be one of the nation’s best, but you do wonder how they will be able to stop teams like Oregon, Stanford, and Notre Dame on defense if they’re healthy, let alone if injuries hit that side of the ball.

There’s no mistaking their high level of talent, but the schedule is brutal in 2011 (12 BCS teams) and I’m not sure USC will be able to make up for their suddenly average defense. I do think they will improve upon their record from last year and possibly notch a big upset this fall, but a major bowl game is probably unlikely even if they were eligible for one.

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No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers (22)

This high ranking and big jump from the last poll is based on QB Russell Wilson transferring to Madison and Ohio State’s precipitous fall from grace during the offseason. They are now my favorite to win the Big Ten and go to a second straight Rose Bowl.

The Badgers did lose some key pieces from their Rose Bowl team last year, but their defense should remain pretty good and the running game could be better than ever with Russell under center.

As always, the schedule is tailor-made to win 10 games and Wisconsin should be able to navigate through those waters with only 3 ranked teams likely to line up against them in 2011.

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No. 12 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (16)

In terms of talent, coaching, experience, size, power, speed, and depth…this is the best team Notre Dame has had in about 18 years. The same can be said for the talent and playmaking ability of the defense as a whole unit.

Not that the team is without flaws (depth at corner and running back especially), but there simply hasn’t been a Fighting Irish team this well-rounded since about 1994.

We can talk about Notre Dame’s recent past of underachieving, but with a proven coach like Brian Kelly, a ton of starters returning, and a defense that looks to be very good...this should be a comfortable spot in the preseason for the Irish---even if some of the fans don't think so.

More to come with our season preview later this week...

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No. 11 Arkansas Razorbacks (15)

Talent-wise I think Arkansas deserves to be here, but with their schedule and brutal road trips within their division, it’s hard to imagine another trip to the Sugar Bowl.

In a lot of ways, the Razorbacks remind me of a slightly more explosive team offensively in comparison to Texas A&M, but with not quite the defensive pedigree. They sneaked past the Aggies last year and the 2011 matchup should be another great one, but it’s just too bad Arkansas has to play at Alabama the week before.

It might not seem right to have the third SEC West team this high in the rankings, but all three (Alabama, LSU, and Arkansas) finished in the top 12 last year.

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