3-point stance: Don't dismiss WKU's Smith

October, 3, 2012
10/03/12
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1. When a player like Western Kentucky senior defensive lineman Quanterus Smith leads the FBS with 6.5 sacks, there’s a tendency to dismiss it. Western Kentucky, right? But think again. The Hilltoppers, 4-1 and 1-0 in the Sun Belt, have played two SEC teams, losing to No. 1 Alabama and beating Kentucky. That’s a tougher schedule than most teams have played this season. Smith had three sacks and forced a fumble against the No. 1 Tide. In other words, next question.

2. Speaking of which, Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te'o has five turnovers, more than 19 FBS teams, including Michigan (four) and No. 17 Oklahoma (somehow, only one). The Fighting Irish have forced 13 turnovers this season, one fewer than in all of 2011. And Notre Dame has allowed only two touchdowns in 10 red zone trips (20 percent). Last season, opponents scored 25 touchdowns in 43 trips (58 percent). So that’s why the No. 9 Irish are 4-0.

3. With five new head coaches among its 12 members, Conference USA figured to endure a season of transition. But, oh, the humanity. The league is 7-31 against nonleague FBS foes, including a 1-12 record against the six AQ conferences. Let’s hear it for Rice kicker Chris Boswell, whose 45-yard field goal as time expired gave the Owls a 25-24 victory and is the only play that separates C-USA from being shut out thus far.

Ivan Maisel | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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