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Illinois running back Chase Brown announced Friday he will enter the NFL draft and won't play in the ReliaQuest Bowl on Jan. 2.

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What's that you wrote? Illinois football is back in The News-Gazette's Top 25? After a win against 1-11 Northwestern?

Hmmm.

Well, let me explain. By far the most impressive performance of the weekend was Michigan's ransacking of favored Ohio State at the Horseshoe. Not many people saw that coming. Especially, if they watched the Wolverines in their previous game against ... Illinois.

This week's Top 25

Only the talented foot of Jake Moody kept Michigan from losing at home on Nov. 19 to Bret Bielema's team.

Nobody has given the Wolverines a better game this season, including the Buckeyes. Thus, Illinois earns a spot back in my Top 25 after a few weeks off.

Bielema on Saturday night took to social media to congratulate the Wolverines and their opponent in Indianapolis, Purdue, while again referencing what he considers questionable officiating in the Illini's close losses to the Big Ten title contenders.

Congrats to both teams and all they have accomplished. Saw both teams on the field and didn’t get it done. Would love the opportunity to meet both again on a neutral field and officials. Can’t happen this year but #famILLy we will be there sooner than later #ILL

Next Sunday, Illinois will learn its bowl assignment. Take that game, no matter who the opponent, to finish 9-4 and the 2022 team will end in the Top 25. That's permanent marker. It doesn't wear off.

Illinois was helped in this week's ballot with a spate of upsets in the lower half of the Top 25. And losses by some contenders too.

Enough dilly-dallying, here is the rest of my poll (the AP Top 25 is expected out early this afternoon):

TEAM PREVIOUS

1. Georgia 1

2. Michigan 3

3. TCU 4

4. Southern California 5

5. Ohio State 2

6. Alabama 7

7. Penn State 8

8. Tennessee 11

9. Kansas State 12

10. Washington 14

11. Clemson 9

12. Utah 17

13. Florida State 15

14. LSU 6

15. Oregon State 23

16. Oregon 10

17. Notre Dame 13

18. Tulane 16

19. Texas 24

20. UCLA 22

21. South Carolina --

22. Mississippi State --

23. UTSA 25

24. UCF --

25. Illinois --

Bob Asmussen can be reached at 217-393-8248 or by email at asmussen@news-gazette.com.

College Football Reporter/Columnist

Bob Asmussen is a college football reporter and columnist for The News-Gazette. His email is asmussen@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@BobAsmussen).

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