Posted: Sunday October 7, 2012 8:39PM ; Updated: Monday October 8, 2012 11:22AM
Stewart Mandel

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Spreading the field

Arkansas defense
Arkansas held Auburn to 281 yards and forced five turnovers and eight sacks in a win over the Tigers.
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

• John L. Smith earned a one-week reprieve from his season-long nightmare at Arkansas. Perhaps he can share some advice for the soon-to-be-crucified Gene Chizik. The Razorbacks' (2-4) previously woeful defense sacked Auburn's hapless quarterbacks eight times for 80 yards in a 24-7 win that officially ends whatever honeymoon period BCS title-winning coach Chizik was still enjoying on the Plains.

Chizik called his 1-4 team's offensive showing "one of the most poor performances I have seen in a long time," but it was somewhat par for the course for the nation's 113th-ranked attack. Only this time the struggles came against the nation's 110th-ranked defense. "I'm never concerned about my job security," said Chizik, and the fact that he has to say that shows just how ugly the situation has become. "I plan on being at Auburn next year," he added. So did Terry Bowden.

• Remember when Stanford purportedly dashed USC's national title hopes in the third week of the season? Will we ever learn? Just three weeks later, the Trojans (4-1) are back up to No. 9 in the Coaches' Poll. After a bizarre start (two botched center-snap exchanges that led to two Utah touchdowns), USC's offense rediscovered its groove in a 38-28 win in Salt Lake City last Thursday. Matt Barkley finished 23-of-30 for 303 yards, three touchdowns and no picks.

• Despite USC's turnaround, No. 2 Oregon (6-0) remains the prohibitive Pac-12 favorite. The Ducks notched their ninth straight win over rival Washington, 52-21, and have now scored at least 43 points in five of the past six meetings. Tight end Colt Lyerla has emerged as a valuable piece of the offense. With two touchdown catches against the Huskies, the sophomore now has 10 touchdowns on 31 career touches. "It is nice to know that we have him as a weapon," said quarterback Marcus Mariota.

• Louisiana Tech (5-0) cracked the AP Poll Sunday for the first time since 1999 following a 58-31 win over UNLV -- the fourth time in five games coach Sonny Dykes' offense has cracked the 50-point mark. Now comes the crucial week if the No. 23 Bulldogs hope to become this year's BCS buster. They face No. 22 Texas A&M (4-1) in Shreveport in a matchup of similar up-tempo offenses. Louisiana Tech, off to its best start since 1975, ran 97 plays against the Rebels.

• Either a bye week did Oklahoma's offense some good, or Texas Tech's No. 1 defensive ranking was a mirage. Quarterback Landry Jones bounced back from his bad night against Kansas State to go 25-of-40 for 259 yards, two touchdowns and no picks in a 41-20 rout of the Red Raiders (4-1). Remarkably, it was the Sooners' (3-1) first win in Lubbock since 2003. Even more astounding: That's also the last year Bob Stoops' team lost two games in a row.

• No. 19 Mississippi State is currently sitting on the quietest imaginable 5-0 record for an SEC team. Perhaps that's because the Bulldogs have beaten two SEC foes (Auburn and Kentucky) with a combined 2-9 record. Quarterback Tyler Russell looked sharp again in Saturday's 27-14 win over the Wildcats, but we'll get a better feel for Dan Mullen's squad when it hosts Tennessee (3-2) this week. Mississippi State won't play its first ranked opponent until Oct. 27 at Alabama.

• No. 20 Rutgers is off to an even quieter 5-0 start, presumably because it plays in the Big East. But the Scarlet Knights can play some defense. After a 19-3 win over Connecticut, coach Kyle Flood's team is allowing 10.8 points per game, fifth-best in the nation. "If you could bottle today's game, you'd have Rutgers football," Flood said after the Scarlet Knight edged the Huskies 280-244 in total yardage. The Big East is the only league outside the SEC with three undefeated teams.

• At this point, we can safely surmise that Virginia Tech is not off to a typically slow start. The Hokies' (3-3) streak of eight straight 10-win seasons is in jeopardy. North Carolina running back Gio Bernard burst for a career-high 262 yards, the most ever against a Frank Beamer-coached team, in the Tar Heels' (4-2) 38-24 victory Saturday. "It's very frustrating," said defensive end James Gale. "I came to Virginia Tech because we know how to play great defense. I feel like today we let the team down."

• The luster is gone from UCLA's once-torrid offense following an embarrassing 43-17 loss at Cal (2-4). Quarterback Brett Hundley threw four interceptions, while perennially erratic Bears counterpart Zach Maynard threw for four touchdowns against the Bruins (4-2). "It was much needed, no doubt about it," said embattled Cal coach Jeff Tedford. "It's been a tough few weeks. That's definitely going to give us a boost."

• Michigan's Denard Robinson passed former Indiana star Antwaan Randle El as the Big Ten's all-time leading rusher among quarterbacks (3,905) with a 235-yard outburst in a 41-13 rout of Purdue.

• Missouri (3-3) fell to 0-3 in SEC play with a 19-15 home loss to Vanderbilt. Even worse, quarterback James Franklin will miss several weeks with a sprained MCL.

• No. 10 Oregon State's (4-0) offense cooled off in a 19-6 win over Washington State. But cornerback Jordan Poyer stepped in with three interceptions.

• It probably sounds like a broken record, but 6-0 Ohio's march to the BCS continues after yet another scare. The Bobcats rallied to beat Buffalo (1-4), 38-31.

• Congratulations to Army (1-4) for snapping an eight-game losing streak. The Black Knights embarrassed Boston College (1-4) on a 29-yard Trent Steelman touchdown run with 45 seconds left.

• Congrats also to Navy (2-3) for its 28-21 overtime win over Air Force (2-3). The victory avenged last year's overtime defeat.
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